Number Of Mushroom Species. Mycology And Mycophagy

The special character of my volume, then - the collateral consideration of the fungus as food - will be sufficient excuse for the omission of a merely technical discourse upon the structure, classification, and vegetation of fungi as a class - a field so fully covered by other authors more competent to discuss these lines of special science, and to a selection of whose works the reader is referred in the list herewith appended, to a number of which I am indebted for occasional quotations. A general idea of the methods of dissemination and habitats of fungi will be found in the final chapter on "spore-prints," while under the discussion of the "Amanita," Agaricus campestris, and the "Fairy Ring" the reader is referred to a condensed account of the methods of vegetation and growth of fungi sufficient for present purposes. Other references of similar character will be noted under "Fungi," in Index.

Need Of A Practical Work. Limitations Of This Volume

The most conspicuous disciple of mycophagy - almost the pioneer, indeed, in America - was the late Rev. M. A. Curtis, of North Carolina, whose name heads the bibliography on page 325. For the benefit of those of my readers who may wish to follow the subject further than my pages will lead them, I append the list of edible species of fungi contained in Curtis's Catalogue, each group alphabetically arranged, the esculent qualities of many of which he himself discovered and attested by personal experiment. The favorite habitat of each fungus is also given, and to avoid any possibility of confusion in scientific nomenclature or synonymes, the authority for the scientific name is also given in each instance:

The pioneer American mycophagist

In the contemplation of such a generous natural larder as the above list implies, Dr. Badham's feeling allusion to the "hundred-weights of wholesome diet rotting under the trees," quoted in one of my earlier illustrated pages, will be readily appreciated.

In the purposely restricted scope of these pages I have omitted a large majority of species in Dr. Curtis's list, known to be equally esculent with those which I have selected, but whose popular differentiation might involve too close discrimination and possibly serious error; and while my list is probably not as complete as it might be with perfect safety, the number embraces species, nearly all of them what may be called cosmopolitan types, to be found more or less commonly throughout the whole United States and generally identical with European species. It will be observed that the list of Dr. Curtis is headed by three members of Amanitae. The particular species cited are well known to be esculent, but they are purposely omitted from my list, which for considerations of safety absolutely excludes the entire genus Amanita of the "poison-cup" which is discussed at some length in the succeeding chapter.

For popular utility from the food standpoint my selection presents, to all intents and purposes, a more than sufficient list, the species being easily distinguished, and, with proper consideration to their freshness, entirely safe and of sufficient frequency in their haunts to insure a continually available mushroom harvest throughout the entire fungus season.