No. 12 in a Series of 253,486.

MUSHROOMS.—The mushroom is not, strictly speaking, a member of the vegetable kingdom; but as it is not, strictly speaking, anything else, it may reasonably find a place in this Herbal.

Mushrooms are a little bit ashamed of themselves, for which reason they are most often found in dark or shady places. The visible part of the organism, which is what we commonly call the mushroom, is only a small projection of the true organism, which lives under the ground and plots revenge. It has been plotting revenge for eons, and by now it has long since forgotten who offended it, so we may regard ourselves as relatively safe.

It is a well-known fact that every mushroom in one hemisphere is counterbalanced by an equal and opposite mushroom in the other hemisphere. These antipodean mushrooms are the so-called toadstools, deadly poisonous growths that terrorize our woodlands and give the whole mushroom family a bad name. To avoid the risk of toadstools, it is best to eat mushrooms only from reputable growers, less than 3% of whose mushrooms contain deadly poisons.

Mushrooms are governed by the planet Neptune, where they grow in abundance and are much prized as both food and shelter by the elves and fairies who inhabit that happy world. But the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has asked Dr. Boli not to reveal any more about the planet Neptune pending an upcoming press conference, and Dr. Boli is happy to respect their wishes.


  1. Jeff says:


    As a boy, I was fond of treading the woodland paths you mention, where (I am told) I was discovered on more than one occasion by passersby, who were kind enough to transport me to a nearby infirmary. Unfortunately, there is little to be gained from pumping stomach contents into a bedpan, or onto the floor. Mushroom venom cannot be removed from the body in this way.

    Happily, there is a method with which I have become inadvertently familiar. Owing to my lifelong obsession with putting things in my mouth (many of which have been mushrooms) I, too, have developed a relationship with Neptune. I have discovered that his beard can be used as a straining device to filter mushroom venom, dramatically reducing the systemic damage that so often hampers the enjoyment of my favorite fruit.

    I mention, in passing, that your reference to Neptune as a “planet” caused many hours of turmoil and grief. When one of the orderlies pointed out that you had intended it as a “joke” to occult the “true meaning” of NASA’s scheduled press conference, I was reinflated.

    Now to the hangar, where my steed awaits!

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