* Tremella. l. 427. Clandestine marriage. I have frequently observed fungusses of this Genus on old rails and on the ground to become a transparent jelly, after they had been frozen in autumnal mornings; which is a curious property, and distinguishes them from some other vegetable mucilage; for I have observed that the paste, made by boiling wheat-flour in water, ceases to be adhesive after having been frozen. I suspected that the Tremella Nostoc, or star-jelly, also had been thus produced; but have since been well informed, that the Tremella Nostoc is a mucilage voided by Herons after they have eaten frogs; hence it has the appearance of having been pressed through a hole; and limbs of frogs are said sometimes to be found amongst it; it is always seen upon plains or by the sides of water, places which Herons generally frequent.

Some of the Fungusses are so acrid, that a drop of their juice blisters the tongue; others intoxicate those who eat them. The Ostiacks in Siberia use them for the latter purpose; one Fungus of the species, Agaricus muscarum, eaten raw; or the decoction of three of them, produces intoxication for 12 or 16 hours. History of Russia. V. I. Nichols. 1780. As all acrid plants become less so, if exposed to a boiling heat, it is probable the common mushroom may sometimes disagree from being not sufficiently stewed. The Ostiacks blister their skin by a fungus found on Birch-trees; and use the Agaricus officin. for Soap. ib.

There was a dispute whether the fungusses should be classed in the animal or vegetable department. Their animal taste in cookery, and their animal smell when burnt, toge∣ther with their tendency to putrefaction, insomuch that the Phallus impudicus has gained the name of stink-horn; and lastly, their growing and continuing healthy without light, as the Licoperdon tuber or truffle, and the fungus vinosus or mucor in dark cellars, and the esculent mushrooms on beds covered thick with straw, would seem to shew that they approach towards the animals, or make a kind of isthmus connecting the two mighty kingdoms of animal and of vegetable nature.


 [ return to text ]