Making Spore Prints

A reader has requested that I post instructions for making spore prints of mushrooms. I am happy to do so, but I must add a word of caution: Some mushrooms are extremely toxic! They must be handled with care. NEVER eat a wild mushroom unless it has been positively identified. Eating the wrong mushroom can prove to be fatal!!

Here are a couple of spore prints I made last fall. They aren't the best examples, but they are the only pictures I had on hand.

To make your prints you will need a few sheets of sturdy white paper. It is best to use white paper so that you can detect subtle shades of color in the spores. Mushroom spores come in a wide variety of colors, from white to green to pink to black. Sometimes you get quite a surprise!

Next, you will need a bowl or jar large enough to cover the mushroom cap you are printing.

Gather your mushrooms (gilled or spore-bearing caps work best), keeping each separate from the other. Twist or cut the stems off flush with the caps and place your mushrooms, gill- or pore-side down, onto a sheet of paper.

Cover each cap with a bowl or jar and leave everything undisturbed for several hours. If your mushroom is at the right stage of maturity, the spores will drop onto the paper and leave a nice print. This process can take up to twelve hours, so be patient!

Remember, some mushrooms are toxic. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling any species you aren't positively sure of -- better safe than sorry.

If you want to practice, you can use mushrooms you buy from the grocery store. If you can get them before they have thrown all their spores, portobellos make an impressive print.


Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Uh, Swampy? Not to like embarrass you or anything in front of all the bloggolites, but uh…these are pictures of your flattened coffee filters. I think you got in the wrong folder deary.

swamp4me said...

Aw man, I hate it when that happens. Note to self: Be careful when making coffee tomorrow morning. Is it a filter or is it a print?

Mr. Bloggerific Himself said...

Although, the portobellos are awesome sandwiches, maybe coffee...well, I'll let you be the expert and test that one yourself.

Ah, Lynn's Paradise Cafe with her huge concrete animals in bright colors in the parking lot and her chandelier made out of used tea bags inside…and wunnerful portobellos sammich on the plate. Mmmmm.

Rurality said...

Thanks! I'm going to try this.

Maktaaq said...

Those are amazing!

What do you do with them afterwards? How do you fix the spores onto the page? It looks like it would be the texture of pastels, so would you use a fixative?

Wow! I am going to try that!