From The Button Stage To The Mushroom

If we split several of the buttons of different sizes down through the middle, we shall be able to see the position of the gills covered by the veil during their formation. These stages are illustrated in Fig. 4.

As the cap grows in size the gills elongate, and the veil becomes broader. But when the plant is nearly grown the veil ceases to grow, and then the expanding cap pulls so strongly on it that it is torn. Figure 5 shows the veil in a stretched condition just before it is ruptured, and in Fig. 6 the veil has just been torn apart. The veil of the common mushroom is very delicate and fragile, as the illustration shows, and when it is ruptured it often breaks irregularly, sometimes portions of it clinging to the margin of the cap and portions clinging to the stem, or all of it may cling to the cap at times; but usually most of it remains clinging for a short while on the stem. Here it forms the annulus or ring.

Figure 7. Agaricus campestris

Figure 7

Agaricus campestris. Plant in natural position just after rupture of veil, showing tendency to double annulus on the stem. Portions of the veil also dripping from margin of pileus. (Natural size.)

The Color Of The Gills

The color of the gills of the common mushroom varies in different stages of development. When very young the gills are white. But very soon the gills become pink in color, and during the button stage if the veil is broken this pink color is usually present unless the button is very small. The pink color soon changes to dark brown after the veil becomes ruptured, and when the plants are quite old they are nearly black. This dark color of the gills is due to the dark color of the spores, which are formed in such great numbers on the surface of the gills. Structure of a Gill. - In Fig. 8 is shown a portion of a section across one of the gills, and it is easy to see in what manner the spores are borne. The gill is made up, as the illustration shows, of mycelium threads. The center of the gill is called the trama. The trama in the case of this plant is made up of threads with rather long cells. Toward the outside of the trama the cells branch into short cells, which make a thin layer. This forms the subhymenium. The subhymenium in turn gives rise to long club-shaped cells which stand parallel to each other at right angles to the surface of the gill. The entire surface of the gill is covered with these club-shaped cells called basidia (sing. basidium). Each of these club-shaped cells bears either two or four spinous processes called sterigmaia (sing. sterigma), and these in turn each bear a spore. All these points are well shown in Fig. 8. The basidia together make up the hymenium.

Figure 8. Agaricus campestris

Figure 8

Agaricus campestris. Section of gill showing tr = trama; sh = subhymeni-um; b=basidium, the basidia make up the hymenium; .st=sterigma; g=spore. (Magnified.)