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partly by the coldness of the ground, whereby the plants nourish less; and partly by the toughness of the earth, whereby the sap is shut in, and cannot get up to spread so frankly as it should do.
545. WE have said heretofore, that if trees be hidebound, they wax less fruitful, and gather moss; and that they are holpen by hacking, etc. And therefore, by the reason of contraries, if trees be bound in with cords, or some outward bands, they will put forth more moss: which, I think, happeneth to trees that stand bleak, and upon the cold winds. It would also be tried, whether, if you cover a tree somewhat thick upon the top after his polling, it will not gather more moss. I think also the watering of trees with cold fountain-water, will make them grow full of moss.
546. THERE is a moss the perfumers have, which cometh out of apple trees, that hath an excellent scent. Query, particularly for the manner of the growth, and the nature of it. And for this experiment's sake, being a thing of price, I have set down the last experiments how to multiply and call on
NEXT unto moss, I will speak of mushrooms; which are likewise an imperfect plant. The mushrooms have two strange properties; the one, that they yield so delicious a meat; the other, that they come up so hastily, as in a night; and yet they are unsown. And therefore such as are upstarts in state, they call in reproach mushrooms. It must needs be, therefore, that they be made of much moisture; and that moisture fat, gross, and yet somewhat concocted. And, indeed, we find that mushrooms cause the accident which we call incubus, or the mare in the stomach. And therefore the surfeit of them may suffocate and empoison. And this sheweth that they are windy; and that windiness is gross and swelling, not sharp or griping. And upon the same reason mush
rooms are a venereous meat.
547. IT is reported, that the bark of white or red poplar, which are of the moistest of trees, cut small, and cast into furrows well dunged, will cause the
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 shew 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 putrified. Which sheweth, by the way, that wood putrified 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 chestnut colour, and hard and pithy; whereby it should seem, that even dead trees forget not their putting forth; no more than the carcases of mens 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 Jews-ear, that grow. eth 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 swell eth, 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 spungy 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 superfœtation 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 soemeth to be more fat and unctuous than the ordi nary 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. IT 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 some what 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 prickles 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 have 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 subtil 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
563. It is certain, that earth taken out of the foundations of vaults and houses, and bottoms of wells, 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 first year; if much deeper, not till after a year or two.