Learn how to make a spore print
Making spore prints is a really fun activity to do with kids and some prints are even pretty enough to frame! (Download my one page cheat sheet on how to make a mushroom spore print.)
And if you would love to learn to identify and even possible consume wild mushrooms, then making a print in order to determine their spore color is an essential activity to complete. Spores are the reproductive structures of all mushrooms and can be any color, including white, cream, yellow, green, purple, brown, rust or black. They are produced by the gills and released from them by the millions when the mushroom is mature. They are then blown away by the wind and settle in a new location to begin a new generation in the life cycle of the mushroom.
Steps in making a spore print
- Cut off the stem from a fresh specimen that has been open for less than two days.
- Set cap over adjacent black and white papers (this is because the spores may be black or white, thus wouldn’t show up if you chose just one of these paper colors.
- Cover mushroom cap with a sturdy box in order to increase humidity and prevent air currents from displacing the spores.
- After 24 hours, remove the box and the mushroom cap. Your spore print will be visible on one of the two pieces of paper.
- Once you have determined the spore color and which color of paper shows them off the best, you may want to repeat this process with that color of paper and a fresh mushroom cap in order to make a beautiful spore print suitable for framing!
Download my one page cheat sheet on how to make a mushroom spore print
LEARN MORE ABOUT MUSHROOMS
1) Read a book
The quintessential book for identifying North American mushrooms is All That the Rain Promises and More , by David Aurora.
2) Join a mushroom lovers club
Autumn is the best time for mushroom hunting, and you can join a local mycological society for organized walks, classes where you can learn how to collect, identify your local species and how to cook the edible ones.
When I lived on the California coast, I belonged to an excellent one, The Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz, and their website is a great resource for mushroom lovers, as is the North American Mycological Association. http://www.namyco.org/
What’s your coolest mushroom story? Share it in the comments below.