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How to make a spore print?

a wooden cutting board

What is a spore and why do you care? A spore is a one celled reproductive unit of a fungi (i.e. its seed). Identifying spore colour of a mushroom can help you figure out if you are holding an edible giant horse mushroom or its poisonous friend. You can only check spore colour by seeing them in large groups (making a print) or through a powerful microscope.

Spore Print

  1. Take a white piece of paper and mark it with a black line. The black line is there so that you can see the spores if they are white.
  2. Dry your mature mushroom off lightly if it’s wet from rain.
  3. Place the mushroom cap gills down on the paper. 
  4. Leave it there for 2 hours – overnight.  The tiny spores will drop out onto the page. 
  5. Take note of the spore colour for identification purposes.

Learning how to make a spore print is step 1 for identifying a new wild mushroom.  Spore colour in mushrooms is relatively consistent which makes it a good feature to look at to correctly ID a mushroom.  The colour of the actual mushroom can vary wildly as it is more easily influenced by its environment.  Also, it’s just a really fun thing to do with the kids, like magic!

Please use caution when hunting for edible mushrooms.  These posts are just rough guides which is no substitute for going out with an experienced wildcrafter.  Most mushrooms aren’t deadly poisonous, but it’s no fun getting sick and not worth the risk!  Come with us on a mushroom tour to start you off on the right foot.  Or check out our online foraging programs.