Agaric. Touchwood. Spunk. Tinder.
Nat. Ord. — Fungales, or Fungaceae. Sex. Syst. — Cryptogamia Fungi.
History. — This is the product of different species of a genus of mushrooms, denominated Boletus. The Boletus Laricis which grows upon the larch of the old world, is the white agaric, ox purging agaric of medical writers. It is of various sizes, from that of the fist, to that of a child's head, is hard, spongy, brownish or reddish externally, and internally of a light, white, spongy, somewhat farinaceous, friable mass, which, though capable of being rubbed into powder upon a sieve, is not easily pulverized in the ordinary mode, as it flattens under the pestle. It has a sweetish, very bitter taste.
The Boletus ignarius, or agaric of the oak, is compared in shape to the horse's hoof. Its diameter is from six to ten inches when young, it is soft like velvet, but subsequently becomes hard and ligneous. On the upper surface, it is smooth, but marked with circular ridges of different colors, more or less brown or blackish ; on the under, it is whitish or yellowish, and full of small pores ; internally it is tough and fibrous, and of a tawny-brown color. It is composed of short tubular fibers compactly arranged in layers, one of which is added every year. It has neither taste nor smell. The best is that which grows on the oak, and collected in August or September. It is prepared for use by removing the exterior rind or bark, cutting the inner part into thin slices, and beating these with a hammer until they become soft, pliable, and easily torn by the fingers.
Properties and Uses. — The White Agaric has been found useful in checking the night-sweats of phthisis, and other diseases, in the dose of eight grains, and gradually increased to a drachm during the day, and produces no inconvenience to the digestive functions. It is said to act as a cathartic with some persons, in doses of from six to thirty grains.
The agaric of the oak, is principally used for arresting hemorrhage from wounds, leech-bites, etc., it is immediately applied to the part with pressure, and acts probably mechanically, by absorbing the blood and causing it to coagulate. In severe cases it is not to be relied upon. It has sometimes been applied to the purposes of moxa. Steeped in a solution of nitre, and dried, it becomes very inflammable, and is used as a tinder under the name of Spunk or Punk.