This section is from the book "Our Edible Toadstools and Mushrooms and How to Distinguish Them", by W. Hamilton Gibson. Also available from Amazon: Our Edible Toadstools And Mushrooms And How To Distinguish Them.
The structure of these mushrooms is clearly shown in Plate 38, in my chapter on "Spore-prints," the hymenium being here spread upon the honey-combed pore surfaces, and shedding its spores from the tubes. Each of these tubes is distinct and may be separated from the mass.
The ideal form as shown in Plate 20 is perfectly symmetrical, in which condition the pores would naturally be perpendicular. But this perfection seldom prevails, and we continually find the specimens more or less eccentric in shape, especially where they are crowded or have met with obstruction in growth. But in any case, no matter what the angle or distortion of growth during development, the lubes are always adjusted to the perpendicular, or in malformed individuals as nearly so as the conditions will permit, as shown in the section on next page.
The Boleti are in general a salubrious group. Certain species have long been accredited as being poisonous, and others excluded from the feast as "suspicious." The early authorities caution us to avoid all Boleti having any shade of red on the spore-bearing surface beneath, even as it was originally claimed that all red-capped toadstools were poisonous. But from the writer's own individual experiments, reinforced by the experience of others, he is beginning to be persuaded that the Boletus as a genus has been maligned. Many species accredited as poisonous he has eaten repeatedly without the slightest deleterious consequences, including the crimson Boletus, Boletus alveolatus (Plate 24, fig. 2), with its red spore surface, and the Boletus subtomentosus (Plate 22, fig. 1), whose yellowish flesh, like the species just mentioned, changes quickly to blue upon fracture, a chemical feature which has long stamped both species as dangerous.
Section Of Boletus Showing Perpendicular Tubes
It is interesting to note that the ban is gradually being lifted from the Boleti by mycophagists of distinction, largely through their own experiments. Thus I note that Mr. Mcllvaine, who has made a close study of esculent fungi, in a recent article claims that "all the Boleti are harmless, though some are too bitter to eat"; and Mr. Palmer, in his admirable portfolio of esculent fungi, includes among his edible species one of those whose flesh "changes color on fracture," and which has hitherto been proscribed as "off color." Of course, this food selection would obviously apply only to species of inviting attributes, possessing pleasant odor, agreeable taste, and delicate fibre. The selection comprised in this volume is confined to a few varieties of established good repute. As to the rest - if only on the consideration of idiosyncrasy - it is wiser to urge extreme caution on the lines laid down on page 34.
The Boletus, like all other mushrooms, passes through a variety of forms from its birth to maturity, at first being almost round, then convex, with the spore surface nearly flat, horizontal, the profile outline finally almost equally cushion-like on both upper and lower surfaces, or the upper surface absolutely flat. Mere outline drawings of a number of Boleti would be almost identical. The form alone, therefore, is of minor importance in their identification. Among those more readily recognized by their color and structural features, may be classed the following common species:
Maligned species. Changes of form in growth