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Showing how spores are borne]

The little plants which make up these molds are called _fungi_. Some

fungi, such as the toadstools, puffballs, and devil's snuff-box, are

quite large; others, namely the molds, are very small; and others are

even smaller than the molds. Fungi never have the green color of

ordinary plants, always reproduce by spores, and feed on living matter

or matter that was once alive. Puf
balls, for example, are found on

rotting wood or dead twigs or roots. Some fungi grow on living plants,

and these produce plant disease by taking their nourishment from the

plant on which they grow; the latter plant is called the _host_.

The same blue mold that grows on bread often attacks apples that have

been slightly bruised; it cannot pierce healthy apple skin. You can

plant the mold in the bruised apple just as you did on bread and watch

its rapid spread through the apple. You learn from this the need of

preventing bruised or decayed apples from coming in contact with healthy


The spores are borne on stalks]

Just as the fungus studied above lives in the apple or bread, so other

varieties live on leaves, bark, etc. Fig. 113 represents the surface of

a mildewed rose leaf greatly magnified. This mildew is a fungus. You can

see its creeping stems, its upright stalk, and numerous spores ready to

fall off and spread the disease with the first breath of wind. You must

remember that this figure is greatly magnified, and that the whole

portion shown in the figure is only about one tenth of an inch across.

Fig. 114 shows the general appearance of a twig affected by this


Mildew on the rose or on any other plant may be killed by spraying the

leaves with a solution of liver of sulphur; to make this solution, use

one ounce of the liver of sulphur to two gallons of water.

The fungus that causes the pear-leaf spots has its spores in little pits

(Fig. 115). The spores of some fungi also grow on stalks, as shown in

Fig. 116. This figure represents an enlarged view of the pear scab,

which causes so much destruction.

You see, then, that fungi are living plants that grow at the expense of

other plants and cause disease. Now if you can cover the leaf with a

poison that will kill the spore when it comes, you can prevent the

disease. One such poison is the Bordeaux (_bor-do_') mixture, which

has proved of great value to farmers.

Since the fungus in most cases lives within the leaves, the poison on

the outside does no good after the fungus is established. The treatment

can be used only to _prevent_ attack, not to cure, except in the case of

a few mildews that live on the outside of the leaf, as does the rose



Why do things mold more readily in damp places? Do you now

understand why fruit is heated before it is canned? Try to grow

several kinds of mold. Do you know any fungi which may be eaten?

Transfer disease from a rotten apple to a healthy one and note the

rapidity of decay. How many really healthy leaves can you find on a

strawberry plant? Do you find any spots with reddish borders and

white centers? Do you know that this is a serious disease of the

strawberry? What damage does fruit mold do to peaches, plums, or


Write to your experiment station for bulletins on plant diseases

and methods for making and using spraying mixtures.