Page images
PDF
EPUB

ground to put forth mushrooms at all seasons of the year fit to be eaten. Some add to the mixture leaven of bread dissolved in water.

548. It is reported, that if a hilly field, where the stubble is standing, be set on fire in a showery season, it will put forth great store of mushrooms.

549. It is reported, that hartshorn, shaven, or in small pieces, mixed with dung and watered, putteth up mushrooms. And we know hartshorn is of a fat and clammy substance : and it may be ox-horn would do the like.

550. It hath been reported, though it be scarce credible, that ivy hath grown out of a stag's horn ; which they suppose did rather come from a confrication of the horn upon the ivy, than from the horn itself. There is not known any substance but earth, and the procedures of earth, as tile, stone, etc. that yieldeth any moss or herby substance. There may be trial made of some seeds, as that of fennel-seed, mustard-seed, and rape seed, put into some little holes made in the horns of stags, or oxen, to see if they

will grow.

551. THERE is also another imperfect plant, that in show is like a great mushroom: and it is sometimes as broad as one's hat; which they call a toad's stool; but it is not esculent; and it groweth, commonly, by a dead stub of a tree, and likewise about the roots of rotten trees: and therefore seemeth to take his juice from wood putrefied. Which sheweth, by the way, that wood putrefied yieldeth a frank moisture.

552. THERE is a cake that groweth upon the side of a dead tree, that hath gotten no name, but it is. large, and of a chesnut colour, and hard and pithy; whereby it should seem, that even dead trees forget not their putting forth ; no more than the carcases of men's bodies, that put forth hair and nails for a time.

553. THERE is a cod, or bag, that groweth commonly in the fields; that at the first is hard like a tennis-ball, and white; and after groweth of a mushroom colour, and full of light dust upon the breaking; and is thought to be dangerous for the eyes if the powder get into them; and to be good for kibes. Belike it hath a corrosive and fretting nature.

554. THERE is an herb called Jew's-ear, that groweth upon the roots and lower parts of the bodies of trees; especially of elders, and sometimes ashes. It hath a strange property ; for in warm water it swelleth, and openeth extremely. It is not green, but of a dusky brown colour. And it is used for squinancies and inflammations in the throat; whereby it seemeth to have a mollifying and lenifying virtue.

555. THERE is a kind of spongy excrescence, which groweth chiefly upon the roots of the lasertree; and sometimes upon cedar and other trees. It is very white, and light, and friable; which we call agaric. It is famous in physic for the purging of tough phlegm. And it is also an excellent opener for the liver; but offensive to the stomach : and in taste, it is at the first sweet, and after bitter.

556. WE find no_super-plant that is a formed plant, but misseltoe. They have an idle tradition, that there is a bird called a missel bird, that feedeth upon a seed, which many times she cannot digest, and so expelleth it whole with her excrement: which falling upon the bough of a tree that hath some rift, putteth forth the misseltoe. But this is a fable ; for it is not probable that birds should feed upon that they cannot digest. But allow that, yet it cannot be for other reasons : for first, it is found but upon certain trees; and those trees bear no such fruit, as may allure that bird to sit and feed upon them. It may be, that bird feedeth upon the misseltoe-berries, and so is often found there; which may have given occasion to the tale. But that which maketh an end of the question is, that misseltoe hath been found to put forth under the boughs, and not only above the boughs; so it cannot be any thing that falleth upon the bough. Misseltoe groweth chiefly upon crab-trees, apple-trees, sometimes upon hazles, and rarely upon oaks; the misseltoe whereof is counted very medicinal. It is ever-green winter and summer; and beareth a white glistering berry: and it is a plant utterly differing from the plant upon which it groweth. Two things therefore may be certainly set down: first, that superfætation must be by abundance of sap in the bough that putteth it forth: secondly, that that sap must be such as the tree doth excern, and cannot assimilate; for else it would go into a bough; and besides, it seemeth to be more fat and unctuous than the ordinary sap of the tree; both by the berry, which is clammy; and by that it continueth green winter and summer, which the tree doth not.

557. This experiment of misseltoe may give light to other practices. Therefore trial would be made by ripping of the bough of a crab-tree in the bark; and watering of the wound every day with warm water dunged, to see if it would bring forth misseltoe, or any such like thing. But it were yet more likely to try it with some other watering or anointing, that were not so natural to the tree as water is; as oil, or barm of drink, etc. so they be such things as kill not the bough.

558. Ir were good to try, what plants would put forth, if they be forbidden to put forth their natural boughs; poll therefore a tree, and cover it some thickness with clay on the top, and see what it will put forth. I suppose it will put forth roots ; for so will a cion, being turned down into clay: therefore, in this experiment also, the tree would be closed with somewhat that is not so natural to the plant as clay is. Try it with leather, or cloth, or painting, so it be not hurtful to the tree. And it is certain,

that a brake hath been known to grow out of a pollard.

559. A MAN may count the priekles of trees to be a kind of excrescence; for they will never be boughs, nor bear leaves. The plants that have prickles are thorns, black and white; brier, rose, lemon-trees, crab-trees, gooseberry, berberry; these bave it in the bough: the plants that have prickles in the leaf are, holly, juniper, whin-bush, thistle; nettles also have a small venomous prickle ; so hath borage, but harmless. The cause must be hasty putting forth, want of moisture, and the closeness of the bark; for the haste of the spirit to put forth, and the want of nourishment to put forth a bough, and the closeness of the bark, cause prickles in boughs; and therefore they are ever like a pyramis, for that the moisture spendeth after a little putting forth. And for prickles in leaves, they come also of putting forth more juice into the leaf that can spread in the leaf smooth, and therefore the leaves otherwise are rough, as borage and nettles are. As for the leaves of holly, they are smooth, but never plain, but as it were with folds, for the same cause.

560. THERE be also plants, that though they have no prickles, yet they have a kind of downy or velvet rind upon their leaves; as rose-campion, stock-gillyflowers, colt's-foot; which down or nap cometh of a subtile spirit, in a soft or fat substance. For it is certain, that both stock-gilly-flowers and rose-campions, stamped, have been applied with success to the wrists of those that have had tertian or quartan agues; and the vapour of colt’s-foot hath a sanative virtue towards the lungs; and the leaf also is healing in surgery:

561. Another kind of excrescence is an exudation of plants joined with putrefaction; as we see in oak-apples, which are found chiefly upon the leaves of oaks, and the like upon willows: and country people have a kind of prediction, that if the oak-apple broken be full of worms, it is a sign of a pestilent year; which is a likely thing, because they grow of corruption.

562. THERE is also upon sweet, or other brier, a fine tuft or brush of moss of divers colours; which if you cut you shall ever find full of little white worms. Experiments in consort touching the producing of

perfect plants without seed. 563. It is certain, that earth taken out of the foundations of vaults and houses, and bottoms of welts, and then put into pots, will put forth sundry kinds of herbs: but some time is required for the germination : for if it be taken but from a fathom deep, it will put forth the

if much deeper, not till after a year or two.

first year;

564. The nature of the plants growing out of earth so taken up, doth follow the nature of the mold itself; as if the mold be soft and fine, it putteth forth soft herb; as grass, plantain, and the like; if the earth be harder and coarser, it putteth forth herbs more rough, as thistles, firs, etc.

565. It is common experience, that where alleys are close gravelled, the earth putteth forth the first year knot grass, and after spire grass. The cause is, for that the hard gravel or pebble at the first laying will not suffer the grass to come forth upright, but turneth it to find his way where it can; but after that the earth is somewhat loosened at the top, the ordinary grass cometh

up. 566. It is reported, that earth being taken out of shady and watery woods some depth, and potted, will put forth herbs of a fat and juicy substance; as penny-wort, purslane, housleek, penny-royal, etc.

567. The water also doth send forth plants that have no roots fixed in the bottom; but they are less perfect plants, being almost but leaves, and those small ones; such is that we call duck-weed, which hath a leaf no bigger than a thyme leaf, but of a fresher green, and putteth forth a little string into the water far from the bottom. As for the water lily, it hath a root in the ground; and so have a number of other herbs that grow in ponds.

568. It is reported by some of the ancients, and some modern testimony likewise, that there be some plants that grow upon the top of the sea, being supposed to grow of some concretion of slime from the water, where the sun heateth hot, and where the sea stirreth little. As for alga marina, sea weed, and eryngium, sea thistle, both have roots; but the sea weed under the water, the sea thistle but upon the shore.

569. The ancients have noted, that there are some herbs that grow out of snow laid up close together and putrefied, and that they are all bitter; and they name one specially, flomus, which we call moth-mullein. It is certain, that worms are found in snow

« PreviousContinue »