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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/377

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357
FUNGI.

stemonitis, only more delicate still both in form and color, are not infrequent. They are everywhere in the woodland—on leaves and sticks that lie close upon the ground, upon a thousand humblest things. Such forms are the Comatrichæ, Arcyriæ, Cribrariæ, etc. PSM V35 D377 Spores and elaters of trichia chrysosperma.jpgFig. 5.—Spores and Elaters of Trichia chrysosperma. Highly magnified. The arcyrias form their spores and the net which contains them all in a delicate spherical or obconical receptacle.[1] At maturity the upper part breaks away and the elasticity of the contained structures forces them out as a most airy puff, from which the spores may be driven by the wind while the base of the original envelope remains as an empty cup. Sometimes the entire structure is mounted upon a slender, polished stalk of appreciable length, and the whole colony of sporangia stand as tiny salvers whose shadowy contents rise like incense-wreaths. To find a rosy field of Arcyria puniceum, to safely box it and lodge it in one's collection, is enough to give a man joy, even of the aesthetic sort, from Sunday to Sunday. The tints in all these fruits are just right: they are the grays, the olives, the brick-reds, the browns, and yellows.

Of these that produce their fruit thus in spherical or cup-shaped receptacles, some are giants among the rest. One, very common, imitates the Lycoperdons, or puff-balls, and that so closely as to have deceived the botanists themselves. It has been named Lycoperdon again and again, and even carried over the whole tribe with which it is related into the order Gasteromycetes—the puff-ball order. The student finds a row of little spheres, ashy or rosy in color, about as large as bullets, resting side by side on some bit of rotten stuff in the woods, and forth-with thinks about Lycoperdon pusillum, or possibly some new species, and not until after much investigation and groping, and probably some outside assistance, does he at length reach the "true inwardness" of Lycogala.

  1. Stemonitis also has at one time in its development a delicate peridium around each sporangium. This, however, soon vanishes.