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Ergot

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posted on 2023-11-22, 07:59 authored by William Webb Spicer
In a paper on alien plants which I had the honour to read before the Fellows of this Society at their last meeting, I took occasion to mention that one of the imported grasses a Lolium (known in England as Darnel), had an evil reputation, as it was believed to be poisonous—but that this was a calumny on the grass—the fact being, that the several species of Lolium though not themselves poisonous, are apt beyond other fodder grasses, to be infested by a very poisonous fungus, the well known Ergot. Curiously enough within the last few days, our Curator has placed in my hands specimens of a highly ergotised Lolium, not however the Darnel, Lolium temulentum, but a much more valuable plant, the common Rye grass, Lolium perenne. The specimens are before you, and I thought it might be of interest if I drew your attention to a danger which, where it exists is generally in great abundance. Ergot is a fungus, belonging to the genus Cordyceps, which, (like so many of the order to which it belongs) is parasitical upon other plants. Many of the species indeed attack the lower animals, and probably some of those present have witnessed its effects in what are called " vegetable caterpillars " where the fungus grows from the head of the victim and completely destroys it. One of the best known is Cordyceps robertsii peculiar to New Zealand; but we have one at least in this colony, Cordyceps gunnii.

History

Publication title

Papers & Proceedings and Report of the Royal Society of Tasmania

Pagination

75-80

Rights statement

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania..

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