By: Catherine Jevic
In this activity, you are going to collect the spores from your mushroom in a spore print.
Making a spore print is a fun way to learn about how a mushroom propagates (spreads its spores), assist you in identifying the mushroom and a creative way to make mushroom art.
What is a spore? A spore is the ‘seed’ of the fungus and is the means with which the fungus reproduces. Mushrooms, the fruiting bodies of fungi, carry millions of spores in a wide variety of ways, some of which include: on the underside of the mushroom cap or gills or in tubes, on spines, pores, or wrinkled surfaces of the mushroom, enclosed in fruiting bodies (puffballs) or in a saclike structure (flask, cup, brain or sponge fungi).
When the mushroom ages, it begins to drop its spores. The spores generally drop close to the mushroom, but can be carried to other places by the wind or by animals.
- Mature mushrooms ready to drop their spores.
- Construction or printer paper
- Cups or bowls large enough to cover the mushrooms
- Hair spray or aerosol fixative used for pastels or chalk drawings.
1. Find a place in the house that you can set up your spore print so that it can sit undisturbed. Once set up, it’s best not to move the spore print.
2. Cut the cap off the stem of your mature mushroom (Junior Mushroom Hunters: ask parent for permission first before using a knife).
3. Place the caps, gills facing down, on the paper. Cover the mushroom with a bowl or cup so it doesn’t dry out.
4. Let the sporulating mushroom sit, undisturbed, for at least 12 hours.
5. Carefully lift the cup or bowls off of the mushrooms and behold! You should see a beautiful spore print of your mushroom. If you do not see a spore print yet, place the mushrooms back on the paper and wait another 12 hours.
6. If you wish to keep your spore print, spray it with hair spray or aerosol fixative.
7. Move your mushroom to a different space on the same page or use a new page and repeat the process. You should be able to
create additional prints, sometimes up to 5-6 prints over the course of 5-7 days.