Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mushroom Spore Prints

It's been a little rainy around here lately in the evenings. Absolutely not complaining - the more little rain storms we get, the less watering of the plants and veggies do I have to do. Along with the benefit of watering my gardens, the rain also provides some nice moisture perfect for the growth of mushrooms. Today we went on a mushroom hunt with the plan to take some mushroom spore prints. I remember doing this as a child - my parents never throw anything away so if you visit my childhood home, you will probably see at least one or two really great specimens lining the plate rail in my parents' living room. I am not sure that I can promise my children the same, but they seemed to love this project just as much as I did.

What the heck is a mushroom spore print?

A mushroom spore print is the imprint of the spores from the underside of a mushroom cap on a piece of paper. Different mushrooms leave different spore prints so, if you are into identifying mushrooms (confession: me, me!), a mushroom spore print will aid in proper identification.

How To:

For this project, all you need are some newly grown mushrooms - if they are too old, they will have already dropped their spores outside - and some colored construction paper.

Different mushrooms have different colored spores. Some spores are white or gray, others could be black or red. Let the kids choose different colors of paper to make this even more experimental.

All you need to do for this experiment is to carefully remove the stem from the mushroom and place the mushroom on a piece of paper. If the mushrooms are bigger, the kids can probably remove the stems themselves. Because these mushrooms were so tiny, I snipped off the stems with my kitchen shears. Cover the mushroom with a water glass so little fingers don't try to check the progress! Let the mushroom sit for a few hours - we gathered our mushrooms before swim team practice and let them sit for about 5 or 6 hours before we came back to check on them.

When the time is up, lift your mushroom and look for the spore imprint. The kids were thrilled that their little mushrooms left such vivid spore prints! Ours were a lovely rust-colored orange! We can't wait to see what our next mushroom discovery looks like...

For more information about mushrooms: 

The American Mushroom Institute put out a mushroom workbook for kids

The Cap Crew - a website about mushrooms from Canada

Information about identifying different types of mushrooms


  1. Its really nice to look at spore prints. And it is also easy to do. Fun time.

    cubensis spore syringe

  2. I wanted to thank you a lot more for your amazing website you have developed here. It really is full of useful tips for those who are seriously interested in this specific subject, especially this very post.

    spore syringe