The history of ergot of rye (Claviceps purpurea) I: From antiquity to 1900

This article outlines the history of ergot of rye up to 1900. Ergot is a fungal disease that affects many grasses but is particularly damaging to rye. It occurs as the result of an infection by the parasitic organism Claviceps purpurea, which produces characteristic black spurs on the grass. When incorporated into grain, the ergot fungus can cause severe outbreaks of poisoning in humans called ergotism.

The history of ergot of rye (Claviceps purpurea)III: 1940–80

The period 1940–80 in the history of ergot was dominated by two investigators, Arthur Stoll and Albert Hofmann. There was great excitement when their group isolated from ergot preparations the powerful psychotropic agent lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). It was thought that this substance would help to find the cause of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, but it would prove to be a great disappointment and Hofmann would say later, in private, that he regretted having spent so much time on the compound.