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speedily overruns books, papers, boots and shoes
or any other household articles when lying by
neglected in damp situations, or to the dry-rot
which is one of the greatest enemies of our
fleet, but all have a common origin. Their
tissues are composed of simple cells.

The primary form or element from which all
plants spring, is a little closed sack of transparent
colourless membrane, round or oval in shape
when existing separately, but assuming various
forms, depending upon the degree of pressure
against each other exercised by the cells, as
well as upon the position they occupy in the
structure of the plant. An acquaintance with
the cell in its normal state, must necessarily
precede all investigations into the different
forms it is capable of assuming. These
simple cells are large, and easily seen with the
naked eye in the pulp of a fully ripe orange,
owing to their being distended with the coloured
juice; and the pith of all plants is entirely
composed of loose cells. Another familiar illustration
is to be found in the fruit of the snowberry
tree. On removing the outer skin, this berry is
seen to be formed of small, slippery, shining,
white granules, each of which is a separate
perfect cell.

The whole process which is termed growth in
plants consists, in its essential elements, of a
continuous multiplication of cells of this kind.
If, says Schleiden, the nutrient matter within
the cell increases in quantity beyond a certain
measure, new cells are formed from it within the
first, called secondary or daughter-cells; they
propagate, and in the usual course the mother-
cell then gradually dissolves and disappears,
while the two, four, eight, or more young cells
produced by it occupy its place. From these
the number of cells becomes multiplied beyond
calculation, nay, almost beyond credibility.

Most funguses retain nearly the same dimensions
throughout their whole lives; but some
few species, nevertheless, seem to have a faculty
of almost indefinite expansion. The usual size
of a puff-ball is not much larger than an egg,
but they sometimes attain or exceed the dimensions
of the human head. A Mr. Berkeley quotes
the case of a Polyforus Squamosus, which in
three weeks grew to seven leet five inches, and
weighed thirty-four pounds. Clusius tells us of
a fungus in Pannonia, of such immense size,
that, after satisfying the hunger of a large
household, enough of it remained to fill a
chariot. Withering found an Agaricus, " which
weighed fourteen pounds;" and Mr. Stackhouse
another of the same species in Cornwall, "which
was eighteen inches across, and had a stem as
thick as a man's wrist." Mr. Badham mentions
having found a fungus in the neighbourhood of
Tonbridge Wells, which rose nearly a foot from
the ground, measured considerably more than
two and a half feet across, and weighed from
eighteen to twenty pounds.

The rapidity with which fungi grow is one of
their chief characteristics. Ward noticed Phallus
Impudicus shoot up three inches in the
course of five-and-twenty minutes, and attain its
full elevation of four inches in an hour and a
half. Pries saw a Bovista Gigautca, in a single
night, increase from the size of a pea to that of
a pumpkin, forming at the rate of twenty
thousand new cells every minute. Monsieur
Bulliard relates that, on placing a fungus within
a glass vessel, the plant expanded so rapidly,
that it shivered the glass to pieces, with an
explosive detonation as loud as that of a pistol.
Dr. Carpenter, in his "Elements of Physiology,"
mentions that, in the neighbourhood of Basingstoke,
a paving-stone, measuring twenty-one
inches square, and weighing eighty-three pounds,
was completely raised an inch and a half out of
its bed by a mass of toad-stools, of from six to
seven inches in diameter; and that nearly the
whole pavement of the town was heaving up
from the same cause. Mr. Badham states that
he himself witnessed an extensive displacement
of the pegs of a wooden pavement, which had
been driven nine inches into the ground, but
were heaved up regularly, in several places, by
small bouquets of mushrooms growing from

Funguses have a remarkable power of reforming
such parts of their substance as have been
accidentally or otherwise removed. Vittadini
found that, when the tubes of a Boletus were
cut out from a growing plant, they were after a
time reproduced; and where deep holes have
been eaten into these plants by snails, they have
been refilled. If the tender Polyporus is cut
across, the wound immediately heals itself, not
bearing even a cicatrice to mark the original
seat of the injury. Fries says that the
Lycoperdons, which are often accidentally wounded by
the scythe, have the same faculty of remodelling
the parts that have been cut from them.

To the peculiar growth of one species of
fungus is due those "green sour ringlets,"
commonly called fairy rings. These fairy rings,
varying in size from one and a half to thirty feet
in diameter, are formed by a floating sporule
falling in a locality suitable to its growth, and
on germinating, sending forth in all directions,
from itself as a centre, a number of branched
threads, which collect together and form a
circular network. At the edge of this network
the mushrooms or fruit are produced; and
gradually extending its boundaries as the central
part dies away, the fruit circle is year by
year increased in size. The grass at the edge of
the circle is always of a more vivid green than
that beyond or within it, caused most
probably by the recently decayed circle having
added to the fertility of the soil. Thus are
formed those emerald rings strangely attributed
by some authors to the effects of electricity, but
more picturesquely, and quite as truly, ascribed
by the poets to the fairies, either as the traces
of their moonlight revels

     O'er the dewy green,
     By the glow-worm's light,
     Dance the elves of night,
     Unheard, unseen.
     Yet where their midnight pranks have been
     The circled turf will betray to-morrow