The Earliest Mention of Dictyophora

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TWAN CHING-SHIH'S “Miscellanies,” compiled in the ninth century A.D. (Japanese edition, 1697, book xix. p. 7). has the following note:—“In the 10th year of the period (Tá-Tùng (544 A.D.)a fungus grew in Yen-hiáng Gardens owned by the Emperor Kién-Wan. It was eight inches long with a black heal resembling the fruit (that is, the Torus) of Euryale ferox; stem hollowed through inside like the root of Nelumbium speciosum; skin all white except below the root, where it was slightly red. Portion like the fruit of Euryale had below a joint like that of the bamboos, and was removable; from the joint a sheet was developed, simulating a network, five or six inches in circumference, surrounding the stem in the manner of a bell, but distant and separate from it. The network was fine and lovely, and also removable from the stem. It is allied to Weí-hí-chì (the Auspicious Fungus of Graveness and Pleasure) of the Taoist writings.” This description seems to have been passel over by readers as a mere fiction, but I find that it agrees very well with the figure of a Dictyophora, and may probably be the earliest mention of it. A Japanese botanist, Kōzen Sakamoto, has figured the two forms of Dictyophora in his “Monograveness Fungi” (1834, vol. ii. p. 15), but has not referred to the above-cited description.

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