5 May 2009

Mushroom spore prints

Rabbit trails.

That's what happened to my mind this morning...Two posts ago I started out to write about mushroom spore prints. I got distracted. Obviously. By the beautiful autumnal weather. By my home decoration. By that magnificent inspiring hymn.

Now I'm back on track. Honestly. Blame the packing...and the ironing...and the fact that I'm only halfway through my bookclub book and the meeting's tonight...Oh well.

We grow fantastic fungi in our garden in autumn - if it rains. It's hard to identify most of them, but there are gorgeous yellow waxy capped fellows, tiny white fairy umbrellas, common old puffballs, black fragile elongated toadstools, miniature white perfectly shaped ones and mushrooms, lots of mushrooms.

Most of these are edible field mushrooms, Agaricus campestris, and that's what we love to do with them - eat 'em.

Now I'm not advocating here that you go out and eat the mushrooms that are growing in your garden - especially if you live in Australia. The edibility of most Australian mushrooms is untested, and some, like the relatively similar looking death cap mushroom, Amanita phalloides are deadly. You can get more info on this from this Gardennote from the Western Australian Department of Ag.

Last week after the rain, mushies popped up everywhere. We gathered them in baskets, and had a lot of fun cooking them up. There were some though, that the flies had got to before us, and they were looking decidedly maggoty. Old maggoty mushrooms are responsible for a significant number of the supposed mushroom poisonings reported each year, and while not deadly, we weren't going to take our chances with those ones. We put them aside to do something else with...spore prints.

Following the instructions linked above, we chopped off the stem of our specimen and sliced the top off the cap.

We placed it then on a white piece of paper and covered it with a bowl overnight. It was a simple as that. In the morning it looked like this:

This is it enlarged:

We gave the whole thing a spray with hairspray to 'fix' it, and then Jemimah mounted it in her nature notebook with a little bit of an explanation about the whole process.

Making spore prints was really cool. We're going to do it with some of the weird and wonderful fungi next time and see what we get from them. If they're as successful as these were, I'll post the photos!


  1. Sounds like you both had a great time gathering mushys!

  2. Yummy! Autumn is Joshua's favourite season because we go hunting for field mushrooms! What a great idea with the spore prints!

  3. I got up early to have coffee with you. Max and Luca joined me - leaving little time to comment as we meandered through your peaceful day and watched the hymn video twice :)

    We will be setting our mushrooms up to do spore prints shortly! -R


    Hi Jemimah! Love, Max

  4. Shamefacedly admitting that despite my passion for nature, we have yet to try mushroom spore prints. Not sure why. But we must.

  5. That looks nice. I would like to try that one too.

    spore syringe


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...