Collecting mushrooms and creating spore prints is kinda fun. My 4-year-old enjoyed this activity for about as long as it took to pick a couple of mushrooms off the ground.
Spore prints show a powdery substance left behind on a surface that can help identify types of mushrooms based on the color of the deposit.
For example, portobellos have a dark print that show up well on white paper. Shiitake’s have a whitish print that show up better on black paper. Some will have both light and darker colors. Because of this discrepancy, it’s best to use a print as an aid and not a rule.
Once the mushroom is identified, it can be used for cultivation. It’s a slower and less predictable process than using a mycelium inoculation, which has already established hyphae that can absorb nutrients from a substrate. Spores will need to germinate and establish a new mycelium before growing into mushrooms. Sometimes spores fail to germinate or may not have strong mycelium.
However, printing is fun and easy to try:
- Find a mushroom(s),
- get some paper or aluminum foil,
- remove the stem,
- place the cap with the gills down,
- cover with a glass and wait