Nature Notes

Vol. XI June - 1933 No. 4

Spring Fungi

The fungi embody an interesting group of the plant kingdom which affects each and every one of us - directly or indirectly - in some form mushrooms or another. They assume wide variety of form and structure, in fact it might be safe to say that they vary more in this respect than the flowering plants. Some are so small that they may be seen only under a powerful microscope while others are large, the plant extending for great distances through the tissues of great trees. Agriculture, commerce, industry and health must oftentimes pay the fungi tribute while at the same time many serve a useful purpose in man's wide fields of endeavor as well.

For ages they have been subject to many popular superstitions and misrepresentations. Various "rules of thumb" have been advanced for distinguishing edible species for poisonous and in most cases these have no foundation in fact.

At this time of the year in the park anyone hiking through the deep forests will be apt to find growing from the humus two fungi forms that will be certain to attract considerable attention. The Morel Mushroom with its wrinkled cap held aloft by a stout, hollow and thin walled stem is the earliest of our common mushrooms. And in the same situations we also find the Gyromitra with its irregularly gnarled cap which has the appearance of pictures of the brain in a physiology text. They are early spring representatives of a host of similar plants that will be found here during the summer and fall.

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