Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 7
   October 2012
   Interesting Reads
Excerpt from The American Agriculturist, Volume 16, 1857.

Mushrooms and Toadstools

Mushroom (Agaricus compestris)

To "Wisconsin Reader," we reply that it is next to impossible to describe these two plants so as to enable the inexperienced to distinguish them unerringly, unless he has once had them both together, in which case he could very readily recognize the mushroom by its delicate agreeable odor, and he would not be likely to afterwards forget the peculiar smell. The main points of difference were set forth in our article in the last Agriculturalist, on the cultivation of the mushroom. We present above an engraving of the general form of the mushrooms, and below is a fair representative of the toadstools.

Toadstool (Agaricus curacus)

It will be seen that mushrooms and toadstools both belong to the same genus (Agaricus). Dr. Withering enumerates the 213 species of the Agaricus, only one of which, the Agaricus campestris, or mushroom, is selected for cultivating in gardens. When about half grown the gills of the mushroom—that is the part under the oval shaped crown—will be found loose, and of a pink or flesh color. On breaking one of these heads the savery [sic] odor will be plainly perceived, while that of the toad-stool is disagreeable. One method of testing mushrooms is to place a silver spoon in the vessel where they are being cooked. If a toadstool chances to be present, the spoon will be colored dark, which is not the case where there are only mushrooms. It is said that a similar effect is produced upon a white onion, used instead of a silver spoon.

Editor's Note: This is a reprint of an article published in 1857. It describes what was recommended in accordance with the knowledge and practices of the day. While reading it, please consider this fact.

   Other Articles from this Issue
  • Ornamental Grasses
  • Horrors in the Garden: Hazardous Plants
  • A Labor Of Love: My Own Orchard
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