Creating spore prints is a fun way to observe spores, they are microscopic and otherwise hard to notice. This is a fun STEM activity for children of all ages. Making spore prints is also what people can do to collect the spores and grow mushrooms. spore prints also help you to identify the mushroom. We may cover germination, fruiting and identification in another blog post, for this blog post it’s all about creating the spore prints!
Going outside on an outdoor forest walk to hunt wild mushrooms is part of the fun. Mushroom hunting is one of our favourite activities because you never know what fungi you’ll find! It’s like a treasure hunt. If you don’t have a forest to hike in, you can often find wild mushrooms anywhere, including your own backyard. Try to stick with edible mushrooms that you are familiar with and if you are unsure, wear gloves and collect the spore prints outside.
Freshly picked wild mushrooms works the best for spore prints because store bought ones may be too old. However, if you can’t find any wild mushrooms, you could give store bought ones a go, but be aware that it may not work, or may be a much lighter colour.
fresh picked wild mushrooms
white paper or black paper (depending on the gill colour and spore colour)
a jar, bowl or glass
There are only 5 steps:
Go mushroom hunting and pick some wild mushrooms.
2. Remove the stem then place the cap (top of the mushroom) gill side down onto a white piece of paper.
We kept this as one step because after you remove the stem the cap will still be in your hand, so simply place it onto a piece of paper. .
3. Cover the cap with a bowl, glass or a jar. Anything airtight that will keep the spores from escaping.
4. Allow the mushroom to sit flat, undisturbed for two to 12 hours. The longer you leave it, the greater the chances of more spores being released, creating a darker print. Don’t leave it any longer of it could start to rot. We generally leave it 2-8 hours.
5. Lift the jar and remove the mushroom to reveal your mushroom spore print!
Allow it to air dry for two hours before storing it in a safe dry place. You can also fram the spore prints in a frame as art.
If you are allergic to spores, create this activity outside.
DID YOU KNOW? You can create dark spore prints by using dark gilled mushrooms on white paper. and
You can create white spore prints by collected white coloured gills and placing them onto black paper.
Some spore prints are orange and various other colours!
Tips on choosing the right mushrooms:
1. Mushrooms with large caps with flat gills work really well, but avoid any from the Amanita genus.
2. I’ll repeat, Avoid using poisonous mushrooms!
Spore prints help us identify the type of mushroom it is, it can help tell you a poisonous mushroom from an edible one, but if you are creating this with children, you’ll need to avoid these mushrooms entirely.
Common name’s from the Amanita species are death cap and destroying Angel, this is because they are super poisonous and could cause death if you consume it. Chances of getting sick just by touching is isn’t common but can happen if you don’t wash your hand properly. So it’s always important to use caution around these kinds of mushrooms.
The defining features of an Amanita species are:
Button stage when young which can look like a white puffy ball
A Volva (universal veil) attaches to the stem in the ground and looks like a round white bulb.
A ring around the stem (a concentration of the poison resides there).
warts on the cap from remnants of the universal veil.
They range from red, orange to yellow and a white cap depending on the species.
Can often have a strong odour, ammonia like (but not always).
Has a white spore print.
Here‘s what some Amanita Mushrooms look like, just to make sure you avoid using them!
Button stage: (young growth)