How to Make Spore Prints – Fun With Mycology! Mushrooms Are Cool!
Changing seasons has brought rain to the low desert of Arizona so 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 mane) they do provide the opportunity for some fun with mycology. Follow along as I explain how to make spore prints, a fun and simple mycology project for anyone interested in mushrooms.
How to make spore prints
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. We removed the stems and placed the caps on a white piece of paper in a glass container.
The lid was then placed on but not sealed shut because we need to allow for air exchange that will allow the cap to start to dry slowly. 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. Because slowly drying the cap simulates the ideal condition in nature, this technique triggers the mushroom to release spores.
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The container is left at room temperature for several hours and spores slowly drop. The fallen spores leave an image on the paper of the space between the mushroom gills which is a unique spore print. Spore prints are also used to identify a mushroom species. For example, the green print left in our experiment is a sure sign that this mushroom is a Chlorophyllum Molybdites.
Go Do It!
Now that you know how to make spore prints, I hope you find some mushrooms and experiment. Mycology is a really fascinating science and a great way to connect to the natural world.
Get The Original Spore Print Shirt
Not only do you know how to make a spore print, you can also wear one! Back in 2013, my partner Cristina suggested that I put one of the spore prints I had made onto a shirt. After conducting some Google searches, I found that no spore print shirts were available anywhere online at that time. So, I selected a print from a Psilocybe Cubensis B+ variety and created the Original Spore Print Shirt. Below are a few of the options I now offer.