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These charts are prepared for popular use, rather than for students of botanical science; all technical terms are, therefore, as far as possible, avoided.
The names “mushroom” and “toadstool” are indefinite, are both applied with equal reason to any fleshy fungus, and are here used as synonymes, like the corresponding term “plant” and “vegetable,” or “shrub” and “bush,” in common conversation.
No general test can be given by which a poisonous mushroom may be distinguished from an edible mushroom. But each species of fungus has certain marks of identity, either in appearance, quality, or condition of growth, which are its own, and never radically varied; none can contain a venomous element at one time, and yet be harmless under other conditions. Like other food, animal or vegetable, however, mushrooms may, by decay or conditions of growth, be unfit for table use; yet in this state no fatality would attend such use.
There are about one thousand varieties of mushrooms (exclusive of small or microscopic fungi) native to the United States; many will therefore be found which are not represented on either of these plates. Those here depicted are of three classes, namely, the Lycoperdaceæ, or Puff-ball fungi; the Agaricini, or Gill-bearing fungi; and the Boleti, which last is one division of the Polyporei, or Pore-bearing fungi.

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