Sunday, April 3, 2011


The following notes on the fungus trade of New Zealand appear in a scientific contemporary: — During recent years the exportation of the edible fungus, Hirneola, has become an important industry in New Zealand. This fungus is saucer-shaped, 3into 7in in diameter, reddish brown or the inside whcnuneci, and gray on the outside. It is said that the odour of these plants distinguishes them for botanists, but their chief peculiarity is their growth. They spring up, it is believed, by hundreds and thousands in a single night, being produced, not from seed, but from a spawn which bears organs of fructification. Another peculiarity is that they absorb oxygen and give out carbonic acid, like animals, while other plants absorb the latter and give out the former. The commercial fungus of New Zealand is found in the North Island, on various kinds of decayed timber, all the fungi, it is well known, favoring damp situations. Nine-tenths of the Province of Taranaki, 80 miles by 70 in extent, where it is found, is densely wooded.The plant is found in what is called new bush settlements, made by laborious clearing. Tbe brandies are lopped off and burned, the trunks resting on their own spurs, and sometimes on scaffolds built for them to fall on, begin to decay— not tying prone on the ground — and the fungus grows. It is prepared simply by letting it dry. China is its market, and it was first bought up by collectors at a cent per pound, and sold in San Francisco for fifteen, and in Hong Kong for twenty-three. According to the Colonial Secretary of Hong Kong, the fungus is much prized there as a medicine, administered in the form of a decoction to purify the blood ; it has also been reported to be in use in China and Japan as a dye for silks. But its principal use among the Chinese is as an article of food ; it forms the principal ingredient in fheir favorite soup, for which it is highly regarded on account of its gelatinous qualities and its rich flavor. West Coast Times , Issue 4006, 13 February 1882, Page 3

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