Monday, November 09, 2009

Les Champignons

Edible & Poisonous Mushrooms

Amanita muscaria

Melleus, Ramenlacus et Mucidus spp.

Orange et Rubiscens caesarea

Amanita bulbosus et mappa et phalloides

Pyriobuchus, Velutinus, Aopendiculatus et Elaeodes spp.

Clypolarus, Mesomorphus, Amanthinus et Murinaceus spp.

Alnicola, Physaloides, Leucocephalus, Chrysentheus, Tonides et Hariobolum spp.

Nudus, Fumentaceus, Pyriodorus, Spectabilis et Oreades spp.

Acerbus, Tabularis, Arenalus, Nebularis, Cuneifolius et Ovinius spp.

Saponaceus, Ventricosus, Aquosus et Conloctus spp.

Foraminosus, Concephalus, Galviculatus, Collinus, Roseus, Cener, Epiphillus, Purus et al spp.

Piluliformis, Congugatus, Horizontalis, Flavo-albus, Gyroflexus et al spp.

Stypticus, Variabilis, Amadelphus, Clarus, Pygmoeus et al spp.

Orcella, Serrulatus, Prinulus, Mutabilis et Sericeus spp

Ovades, Aliaceus, Praciomus, Tiganus et Concalus spp.

Apucreus, Fusus, Conissans, Gymnopodius et al spp.

Compestris, Pudicus, Silvicola, Obturatus et al spp.

Firmus, Desbuetus, Collinitus et spp.

Comatus, Asbiamentaurus, Fimetarius et al spp.

Boletus edulis

Castaneus, Subtomentosus, Auranliacus, Cyanescens spp.

Juglandis, Giganteus, Elegans, Supdus et al spp.

Sulfureus, Versicolor, Obliquatus

Cristata, Amethystina, Condensata, Botrylis, Hava spp.

'Histoire Naturelle des Champignons Comestibles et Vénéneux' [The natural history of edible and poisonous mushrooms] by the French pharmacist, Guilliame Sicard, was published in 1883 and is online at Bibliothèque nationale de France. [note the thumbnails link in the sidebar] There are a few more in the set.

Other versions of this book are available (but I think the BNF copy has the best quality illustrations) from the Biodiversity Heritage Library [eg. one; two] and the Internet Archive. [Addit: Amazon has what appears to be a facsimile edition of the book]

The BNF librarian who originally logged Sicard's book was incredibly thorough: not only was there a library stamp on every single page, but they managed to ensure that the stamp was always at least partially covering an illustration. Bravo! I took the liberty of removing these as well as performing some occasional remedial cosmetic work to the background scuffs and splodges. There are doubtless errors in the Genus names in the title tags: either because I misread the handwriting or because the names have been superseded.

'Mushroom' and 'toadstool' are informal words without precise meanings, although in the modern parlance, 'toadstool' tends to be applied to poisonous or suspicious varieties of mushrooms.*

Picking and eating wild mushrooms has something of a romantic dimension and I totally understand the attraction of a half day romp in the forest with a special someone collecting a free evening meal. But there is an enormous body of literature out there devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and case studies of people who became gravely ill or died as a result of mistaking poisonous toadstools for yummy mushrooms.

I've done some really crazy and stupid things in my life [such as: redacted] but there are only two ways that I'd consent to eating the produce collected during a wild mushroom hunt: if I was accompanied by a mycologist - who took the first bite - or if I obtained a degree in mycology myself.

Via the BNF's Gallica blog post: 'La cueillette des champignons en forêt', which lists a number of other fungi-related works in the French National Library (that I haven't seen).

Previously: Forest Fungi and in general, flora.

Die Tode Stuhle -- Mushroom Observer -- Cornell Mushroom blog.


Khthonian said...

I have to know, are you you a polyglot? It seems you sort through vast reserves of foreign language archives to find these treasures.

peacay said...

It's a good question and one I have probably not directly addressed, save for occasional asides. The true answer is no, I am not anything approaching a polyglot, nor, do I suspect, could I ever be.

I could just about think in French by the end of high school, so that's one language with which I have more than a passing familiarity. But it's really only un petit peu, as far as recall goes, these days.

I pretend I can 'read' all the romance languages, but most of it is deductive guessing supplemented often by accompanying visual content and helped almost always by web translation and/or searching.

I was pretty good there for a while with conversational Vietnamese, after attending a dozen or more classes in Hanoi, but it took a LOT of practice just to get to the point where I could get some basic pronunciation right: in other words, it came neither easily nor as naturally as I suspect it would do with those with polyglot tendencies.

Beyond this meagre base I guess. A LOT. Having formally learned a 2nd language I think one gets an appreciation for there being different syntax systems that I tell myself helps with the mental callisthenics involved in the guess work.

Add to all this five years or so of doing this site and bits 'n' bobs probably sink in a little bit. But really, the internet can make anyone look smarter than they really are ;- P

DHD Design Studio said...

It is the season here in France. My French friends spend their weekends out in the forests. I am not so intrepid. I was in Northern Catalonia recently where mushroom hunting is also a big activity. I have enjoyed your virtual tour.

Julie Kwiatkowski Schuler said...

Mushrooms are so weird and sexy.

Kitty said...

just found your blog on liberty post. you wouldn't believe how many of these mushrooms grow in my yard in indiana. at one point, we had 12 varieties one one day! natch, we eat none of them save the shitakes from the mushroom log we got for christmas last year. very cool post! thanks, kitty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these beautiful old plates, it's the first time I've seen them. I love how some include delicate drawings of microscopic spore-bearing structures. They're lovely.

Anonymous said...

I strongly believe you are due for a noble award, a nobel award. As a retoucher and scanner, I know how much work is involved, and that you consistently dredge up and present such stunningly beautiful work, cleaned, de-stamped, with colors that sing...Thank YOU, thank you. I raise my glass--or psychedelic fungus--to you.

Lindsay Cuff said...

I find 19th century French naturalist illustrations so lovely. They reaffirm the notion that science and art can indeed coexist.
The UBC Library Vault (, based out of Vancouver, Canada has some wonderful illustrations in a similar vein.

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peacay said...

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SilkandBone said...

I just found your blog- wonderful! I love these illustrations of mushrooms- so beautifully painted.

Karla said...

I think you're a little over-cautious on the mushroom-eating. In much of Europe it's standard practice to be able to recognize and gather several kinds of edible fungi. Not, admittedly, standard in my neighborhood or I suppose yours. I get my mushrooms at the grocery store or farmer's market. (And eat 'em nearly every day!)

Isis Azimuth said...

i LOVE these images. thank you for them

Garden Lily said...

Those are great images. But I'd agree, there are a lot of mushrooms which look very similar, so I'd want someone else who was confident enough to take the first bite.

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