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Fungus

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FUNGUS.

Ti-rh ; Muh-rb, . Cumz. ' Shirian of . . JitELuir. Cbampignon, Fongus, FR. Kulat, Chandawan,MaLar Schwamm, . . . GER. llat-bakri of . . . Kari. Kana kuchu, . . limn. 'Longo, Sr.

Fungo IT.

Under this yam° botanists comprehend not only tho various races of mushrooms, toadstools, and similar productions, but a large number of micro scopic plants forming the appearances called mouldiness, mildew, smut, rush-brand, dry-rot, etc. They are cellular flowerless plants, and are arranged into mushrooms, puff-balls, smuts, mildews, truffles, morelles, mould.s.

They are numerous in India, growing ou or in damp vegetable mould. The conamon field mush rooms are eaten. But several poisonou.s fangi so closely resemble the common mushroom, that the utmost caution is necessary in their use. No test whatever, whether bottuaical or chexuical, can be relied ou to distinguish the dangerous from tho wholesome kinds. Special cultivation is the only sure mode of procuring the mushroom of invari ably good quality. One fungus resembling a mushroom grows at the foot of the bamboo, and is regarded by the Burmese as a valuable specific in worms. Few fungi were found by Dr. Thomson in the N.W. Himalaya, and for the most part differed but little from the produce of a European wood. Some, however, grow to a very large size, as for instance Polyporus fomentarius, on poplars near Iskardo, exceeding in dimensions anything which this species exhibits in Europe. A very fine Ecidium (E. Thomsoni) also infests the fir tree Abies Smithiana, hexenbesen of the German forests, but is a finer species, and quite distinct. Polyporus oblectans, Geaster limbatus, Geaster mammosus, Erysiphe taurica, a boletus infested -with Sepedonium mycophilum, Scleroderma verru cosum, an Ecidium, and a Uromyces, both on Mulgedium tataricum, about half-a-dozen agarics, one at an altitude of 16,000 feet above the Nubra river, a Lycoperdon, and Morchella semilibera, which is eaten in Kashmir, and exported when dry to the plains of India, make up the list of fungi.

The Sikkim region of the N.W. Himalaya is perhaps the most productive in fleshy fungi of any in the world, both as regards numbers and species ; and Eastern Nepal and Khassya yield also an abundant harvest. The forms are for the most part European, though the species are scarcely ever quite identical. The dimensions of many are truly gigantic, and many species afford abundant food to the natives. Mixed with Euro pean forms, a few more decidedly tropical occur ; and amongst those of East; Nepal is a Lentinus, which has the curious property of staining every thing which touches it of a deep rhubarb yellow, and is not exceeded in magnificence by any tro pical species. ' The Polypori are often identical with those of Java, Ceylon, and the Philippine Isles ; and the curious Trichocoma paradoxum, which was first found by Dr. Junghuhn in Java, and later on by Dr. Harvey in Ceylon, occurs abundantly on the decayed trunks of laurels, as it does in South Carolina- The curious genus Mitremyces also is scattered here and there, though not under the American form, but that which occurs in Java. Though Hymenomycetes are so abundant, the Discomycetes and Ascomycetes are comparatively rare, and very few species indeed of Sphxria were gathered. One curious matter is, that amongst the very extensive collections which have been made, there is scarcely a single new genus. The species, moreover, in Sikkim are quite different, except iu the case of some more or less cosmopolite species, from those of Eastern Nepal and Khassya ; scarcely a single Lactarius or Cortinarius, for instance, occurs in Sikkim, though there are several in Kbassya. The genus

Boletus through the whole district assumes the most magnificent forms, which are generally very different from anything in Europe.

A fungus has done enormous damage in the Ceylon coffee plantations. When a coffee tree is a. ttacked by the bug, it is deprived of its sap and its nomishment, whilst the fungus, which never fails to attend on the bug, prevents restorations by closing the stomates throu.gh which the tree breathes and respires. About the year 1880, a new fungus in Ceylon was causing the leaves of the coffee trees attacked with it to fall off. The Rev. M. J. Berkeley says of it, that amongst more than a thousand species of fungi previously received from Ceylon this had not occurred ; and it is not only quite new, but with difficulty referable to any recognised section of fungi. Indeed, it seems just inter mediate between true mould and Uredo, allied on the one hand to Trichobasis, and on the other to Rbinotrichum. Though the fung-us is developed from the parenchym of the leaf, there is not any covering to the little heaps, such as is so obvious in Uredo and its immediate allies, while the mode of attachment reminds one of Rhinotrichum. He was obliged, therefore, to propose a new genus for its reception. As the fungus is confined to the under surface of the leaves, and the mycelium is not superficial, it may be difficult to apply a remedy ; but he would be inclined to try sulphur by means of one of the instruments which are used in the hop-grounds in Kent, or syringing with one of the sulphurous solutions which have been recommended for the extirpation of the hop mildew.

The Ti-rh or Mub-rh Of China are fungi growing on trees, and preferred by the Chinese to the more delicate mushrooms.

Colonists in New Zealand have exported to China a fungus growing abundantly on decaying timber in all the forest districts of the colony, known as Hirneola polytricha, much resembling the variety commonly known as Jew's-ear ; a considerable tmde in this commoditysprang up since 1872. One year the total quantity exported amounted to about 250 tons, which, at 144 a ton, represented a value of £11,000. The selling price retail in China is about 1s. per lb. It is used by the Chinese in the shape of a decoction, and is sup posed to purify the blood. It is also largely con sumed in soups, and as an ingredient in various farinaceous dishes.

A dried fungus, used as food in Singapore, does not appear to differ from the Hirneola auricula Judaz of Britain, which has a wide range.

The Shirian of Jhelum, and Bat bakri of Ravi, is a thin, flat, ragged-looking fungus, yellow above and with white gills below, which is got on dead trees in various parts of the Panjab Himalaya at 8000 to 8500 feet. The natives slice and cook them, either fresh or dry, and eat them as a relish with bread. Dr. Stewart tried them in stews, etc., but found tbem leathery and flavourless. The Buin phal of the Panjab is an underground mushroom, mentioned by Edgeworth as found in cultivated ground near Multan, and eaten by natives, but which he did not find at all palatablc.—O'Sh.; Hooker's Him. Jour. ii. p. 381 ; Nietner ; Smith's China ; Powell; Dr. J. L. Stew. ; Rev. 2If. J. Berkeley.