Lycoperdon cervinum, Linn.; Cervi Boletus, I. Banh.; Elaphomyces officinalis, Nees; Tuber cervinum, Nees; Boletus cervinus; Hart's Truffles; Deer Balls. Sold at Covent Garden Market, as Lycoperdon nuts. (Elaphomyces, from ελαφος, a slag and μυκης, a fungus.) Rounded or oblong, from half an inch to two inches in diameter, brown, papilloso verrucose, hard. Peridium internally white. Sporidia abundant, globular, black.—Indigenous. Grows underground.
A very complete analysis has been made by Blitz [Trommsdorff's Neues Journ. d. Pharm. Bd. xi.]. The sporidia consisted of a disagreeable odorous volatile substance, soft resin, 0.325; hard resin, 0.052; red colouring matter, uncrystallizable sugar, with fungic ozmazome, 2.708; gum, 2.083; inulin, 8.333; soluble albumen, a trace; fungin, red colouring and albuminous matter, soluble in potash; free vegetable acid, vegetable salts of ammonia, potash, and lime, sulphate and phosphate of lime, chloride of sodium, silica, manganese, and iron. The ashes amount to 1.25. The peridium deprived of its warty coat consisted of yellow rancid, soft fat, 0.33; fungic ozmazome, with crystalline sugar, 12.000; gum, 10.40; albumen, fungin, gummy and albuminous matter, soluble in potash; free vegetable acid, vegetable salts of ammonia and lime, phosphate and sulphate of lime. The ashes amount to 1.1. The warty coat contains yellow, bitter fat, colouring matter, soluble in water and alkalies, but not in alcohol and ether; bitter and other substances, but neither sugar nor inulin. The capillitium contains sugar, but no inulin.
Though still retained in some of the best modern works on medical botany published on the continent, this subterranean fungus is no longer used in medicine, at least in England. As, however, I have met with it in the stock of a London herbalist, I presume at no very long period since it must have been in use. "It was formerly used by apothecaries for the preparation of the balsamus apoplecticus; and great power was ascribed to it in promoting parturition and the secretion of milk. Even now the country people in some places esteem it as an aphrodisiac, and prepare from it a spirituous tincture [Gleditsch, quoted by Nees v. Esenbeck and Ebermaier, Handb. d. med. pharm. Botanik, Bd. i. S. 28, 1832.]." Parkinson [Theatrum Botanicum, p. 1320, 1640.] says the dose of it is one drachm and a half in powder, taken with sweet wine, or with such other things as provoke venery.