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PUFF-BALLS AND TOADSTOOLS.   161

 

around the stem, and remains a good mark of this family of Agarics. The toadstools are but the seed-bearing organs of this cellular cryptogamic plant, that flourishes in the dark soil in the form of rootlets and threads. The spores, or seeds, are formed in the gills by millions and continually shed, but we do not see them, and the lightest breath of air carries them away. However, it is an easy matter to get a view of them in this way : slice off the cap and care-fully place it on a bit of black paper, or even brown, and cover it over with a dish, and let it remain for a few hours. Upon examination you will find that the spores have dropped upon the paper, forming a beautiful wheel as each gill threw down its own portion directly under it. In some species the spores are dazzling white, in others pink, in others golden ; but in all, when under a good microscope, can be seen beauty and elegance of finish, as if each one was the pride of some master eye and hand. These wheel patterns are so beautiful that one may preserve them for the pleasure of looking at them. This is easily done by gumming the paper with a little mucilage and allowing it to dry, and placing on the top of the specimen a piece of damp cloth; this will yield enough moisture to make the paper slightly sticky,


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