Fall has arrived and brought rain to the low desert of Arizona. This is one of the rare times of the year when the fungi pop their heads above the soil. Although the mushrooms in my area are not edible (aside of the shaggy maine) they do provide the opportunity to learn more about mushrooms. I am going to explain how to make a spore print. This is a fun and simple mycology project for anyone interested in mushrooms.
These mushrooms popped up in the grassy areas near where I live. My daughter and I collected a few for our experiment.
How to make a spore print:
Mushrooms drop their spores at the end of their life cycle before they curl up and fade. In order to collect spores, the caps need to be open with the veil broken. With the stems removed, we placed the caps on a white piece of paper in a glass container.
The lid was then placed on but not sealed shut in order to allow for a slow air exchange. I have also done this with a single cap under an upside down mason jar. If you use a jar, place a penny under the lip for air exchange. This technique simulates the ideal condition in nature that triggers the fungi to release spores by slowly drying the open mushroom cap.
The container is left at room temperature for several hours. The spores slowly drop leaving an image on the paper of the space between the mushroom gills. Spore prints are often used to identify a species. For example, the green print left in our experiment is a sure sign that this mushroom is a Chlorophyllum Molybdites.
Now that you know how to make a spore print, I hope you find some mushrooms and experiment. Mycology is a really fascinating science and a great way to connect to the natural world.
I think spore prints are beautiful. In fact, I love them so much that I put them on some really awesome shirts in my shop.