|Excerpt from The American Agriculturist, Volume 16, 1857.
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
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
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.