Another very common example of mushroom in its season of early spring is the Agaricus gambosus, or St. George's mushroom, as it is popularly styled in Great Britain, from its usual appearance about the time of St. George's Day, April 23d. In addition to its unusually early season, which is the same with us, and which at this date would be a valuable hint in its identification, it has also the singular habit of growing in rings or clustered in crescents, after the manner of the Fairy-ring Champignon of our lawns. Add to this, also, a very strong odor, and we have at least three suggestive characteristics to aid us. This odor, according to Dr. Cooke, is so strong as to occasionally become oppressive and overpowering where the fungus is plentiful. Workmen employed to root them out are said to have been so overcome by the odor as to be compelled to desist. Other features of this fungus are noted in Plate 7. The cap varies in size in different individuals, but is occasionally very large - five inches or more in diameter, the average expanse, perhaps, being about three inches. The cap is smooth, thick, and fleshy, suggesting soft kid leather, at first rounded convex, ultimately expanding quite horizontally, and is commonly fissured here and there with irregular cracks, both in its expanse and at its edges. Its color is white, or yellowish white. In surface appearance Dr. Berkeley compared it to a "cracknel biscuit." The gills are yellowish white, very moist and densely crowded, and of various lengths, as indicated in my sectional drawing on the plate, and are, moreover, annexed to the solid stout stem by a toothed border, also shown herewith.

Remarkably Strong Odor

The season of this mushroom extends into June, and in its favorite haunt it may occasionally be gathered by the bushel. Opinions are at variance as to the comparative esculent qualities of this species. Certainly delicacy cannot be claimed for it; but those epicures who desire the characteristic fungus flavor at its maximum will find it in the Gambosus.

Toothed Gills

Toothed Gills

Epicurean opinions

Plate VII. St. George's Mushroom

Pileus: Three to six inches in diameter, occasionally much larger; rounded convex, at length more flat and commonly cracked here and there; surface smooth, thick, and fleshy, suggesting soft kid leather. Color, pale ochre or yellowish white.

Gills: Densely crowded; yellowish white; very moist; various lengths; each annexed to stem by a small sharp downward curve.

Stem: Solid; stout; substance creamy white.

Spores: White.

Taste: Highly flavored; by some considered "too gamy."

Odor: Powerfully strong, perhaps rank.

Habitat: Fields, lawns, and pastures, frequently growing in broken rings or crescents.

Plate VII. Agaricus Gambosus

Plate VII. Agaricus Gambosus.

By many fungus-feasters this species is prized as the ne plus ultra, and most various are the methods of its culinary preparation, either in the form of mince and fricassee with various meats, suitably seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter, or simply broiled and served on buttered toast. An appetizing recipe for this especial mushroom is given on page 313.