Spicer, William Webb 1877 , 'Ergot' , Papers & Proceedings and Report of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 75-80 .

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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.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Spicer, William Webb
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers & Proceedings and Report of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

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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