Edinburgh Journal of Medical Science, 1826.
Vol II. July 1, 1826 - January 1, 1827
Medical Intelligence - Botany.
Notices of Botanical Works.
Greville's Scottish Cryptogamic Flora.
No. 46. - T.226, Polyporus abietinus, Fries. - T.227, Stictis radiata, Pers. - T.228, Himantia candida, Pers. - T.229, Popuporus betulinus, Fries. - T.230. Chætomium elatum, Kunze. New to Gret Britain.
No. 47. - T.231. Protococcus nivalis, Ag. This is the Red Snow about which so great interest has been excited among botanists. Dr Greville has given a correct figure, exhibiting the plant in every stage; and, in the letter-press, besides giving a history of this extraordinary Alga, he has added a translation of the detailed memoir of Professor Agardh on the same subject. The native specimens examined by Dr. Greville were communicated by Captain Carmichael, who discovered them in the Island of Lismore. - T.232, Agyrium rufum, Fries. - T.233, Hysterium varium, Fries. - T.234, Thelephora Padi, Pers. All new to Great Britain. - T.235, Agaricus variabilis, Pers.
No. 48. - T.236, Chætopsis Wauchii, Grev. - T.237, Xylaria polymorpha, Grev. - T.238, Dædalea quercina, Pers. - T.239, Crystosphæ acuta, Grev. and C. doliolum, Grev. - T.240, Halymenia purpurascens, var. crispata A very curious variety.
We observe that Dr Greville has already illustrated no fewer than 112 genera in this work; and we are glad to find that the pressure of the times has proved bo obstacle to its sale.
Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society.
Vol. IV. Part II.
There is an article in this volume by Dr. Greville on the Esculent Fungi of Great Britain: and we are induced to notice it, although it has been published nearly two years, on account of some curious facts related by the author concerning the effects on certain species of Fungi upon the human system.
It may be observed, that the true Fungi are at present put to few uses, if we expect those of a culinary nature. But it is extremely probable they will hereafter be applied to many medicinal and economical purposes. Many species which are rejected as poisonous from their highly acrid properties, may, from the presence of so active a principle, be introduced with advantage into the Materia Medica, when experiment shall have ascertained their exact nature. The Russians have long employed in dyeing, those Boleti which change to a blue colour on being cut; and the Kamtschatdales are in the daily habit of intoxicating themselves with the fly agaric (Amanita Muscaria). It is the curious effects of this fungus, when taken into the stomach, that we proceed to give in Dr. Greville's own words.
"As the plant commonly known by the name of the fly fungus (from its property of destroying flies when steeped in milk) has made some noise of late on the Continent, I must warn those who might feel inclined to try it in this country of the danger they would expose themselves to. It has not been clearly ascertained whether the species which grows in this country, and in the south of Europe, be indeed the same as that which is found in Kamtschatka, and called Amanita Muscaria Kamtschatica. At any rate, our plant is known to be highly poisonour; and the Kamtschaka variety may be another species, or have partly lost its virulence from inhabiting a more northern climate. The properties of this variety are exceedingly curious, and as they are described in a German essay by Dr Langsdord, in Annalen der Wetternanischen Gesellschaft für die gesamente Naturkunde, I trust a concice account of them will not be unacceptable.
"This variety of Amanita Muscaria is used by the inhabitants of the north-eastern parts of Asia, in the same manner as wine, brandy, arrack, opium, &c. is by other nations.
"These fungi are found most plentifully about Wischna Kamptschatka and Milkowa Derewna, and are very abundant in some seasons, and scarce in others. They are collected in the hottest months, and hung up by a string in the air to dry: some dry of themselves on the ground, and are said to be far more narcotic than those artificially preserved. Small deep-coloured specimens, thickly covered with warts, are also said to be more powerful than those of a larger size and paler colour.
"The usual mode of taking the fungus is to roll it up like a bolus, and swallow it without chewing, which the Kamtschatdales say would disorder the stomach. It is sometimes eaten fresh in soup and sauces, and then loses much of its intoxicating property: when steeped in the juice of the berries of Vaccinium uliginosum, its effects are those of strong wine.
"One large or two small fungi is a common dose to produce a pleasant intoxication for a whole day, particularly if water be drunk after it, which augments the narcotic principle.
"The desired effect comes on from one to two hours after taking the fungus. Giddiness and drunkenness result from the fungus, in the same manner as from wine or spirits; cheerful emotions of the mind are first produced; the countenance becomes flushed; involuntary words and actions follow, and sometimes at last an entire loss of consciouness. It renders some remarkably active, and proves highly stimulant to muscular exertion: with two large a dose, violent spasmodic effects are produced.
"So very exciting to the nervous system, in many individuals, is this fungus, that the effects are often very ludicrous. If a person under its influence wishes to step over straw or a stick, he takes a stride or a jump sufficient to clear the trunk of a tree; a talkative person cannot keep silence or secrets; and one fond of music is perpetually singing.
"The most singular effect of the Amanita is the influence it possesses over the urine. It is said that, from time immemorial, the inhabitants have known that the fungus imparts an intoxicating quality to that secretion, which continues for a considerable time after taking it. For instance, a man moderately intoxicated to-day, will, by the next morning, have slept himself sober; but (as is the custom) by taking a tea-cupful of his urine, be more powerfully intoxicated than he was the preceding day by the fungus. It is therefore not uncommon for confirmed drunkards to preserve their urine as a precious liquoe, agains a scarcity of the fungus. This intoxicating property of the urine is capable of being propagated; for every one who partakes of it has his urine similarly affected. Thus, with a very few Amanitæ, a party of drunkards may keep up their debauch for a week. Dr Langsdorf mentions, that, by means of the second person taking the urine of the first, the third that of the second, and so on, the intoxication may be propagated through five individuals."