Saturday, February 25, 2006
Naughty Fungi Names
The prudish Thoreau (Journals, October 16, 1856) was shocked and fascinated to find one of these fungi on his rambles through the woods:
One of those fungi named impudicus, I think. In all respects a most disgusting object, yet very suggestive. . . . It was as offensive to the eye as to the scent, the cap rapidly melting and defiling what it touched with a fetid, olivaceous, semiliquid matter. In an hour or two the plant scented the whole house wherever placed, so that it could not be endured. I was afraid to sleep in my chamber where it had lain until the room had been well ventilated. It smelled like a dead rat in the ceiling, in all the ceilings of the house. Pray, what was Nature thinking of when she made this? She almost puts herself on a level with those who draw in privies.