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Making A Mushroom Spore Print

Following on from my post earlier this week, here is a detailed guide on how to make a spore print from a mushroom - a really simple and fun activity to get involved with a little bit of nature's magic!

So, you've come across a new mushroom while out walking and you're not quite sure what it is. You've asked yourself a few key questions and you think you've narrowed it down, but you're still not a hundred percent certain. Taking a spore print, and examining the shapes and colours can sometimes mean the difference between mushrooms that otherwise look the same, and can be a really useful tool when trying to ID mushrooms. Its really simple and fun to do and you only need a couple of things you can find around the house, and of course a mushroom.

The mushroom in these pictures is a Velvet Shank which I found back in January. I was fairly certain of my ID, but with it being the first time I'd found this mushroom, I wanted to make doubly sure I was right.

Velvet Shank Mushrooms
Velvet Shanks

I came across them growing on a living Ash tree; their caps were waxy and they stems were a very dark, velvety brown - all the right id features. They are typically a Winter mushroom, so you won't find any around just yet, but they are now one of favorites and I just wanted to use these pictures to show how I went about making a spore print.

All you'll need to get started is:

  • Your mushroom

  • Black and white paper or card

  • Something to cover the mushroom with - either a class or a food container works well.

For mushrooms with gills:

  1. Remove the stem, carefully cutting it as close to the underside of the cap as possible.

  2. The spores lie on the surface of the gills so you'll need to lay the mushroom cap gill side down onto a piece of paper. If you have more than one of the same mushroom, experiment with both the black and the white paper. Spores tend to be either white or brown, with a few varying colours in between so if you can't see a result on white paper, try again on black.

  3. Cover the mushroom with a glass or food container and leave for several hours. Keep coming back to check on it regularly. Some mushrooms will take longer than others, and some will leave a clear spore print in 1 to 2 hours.

  4. Carefully remove the cap to reveal the magic underneath!

Velvet Shank white spore print on black paper
Velvet Shank spore print
Velvet Shank spore print
Side by side - you can see how the spore print is identical to the shape of the cap

For mushrooms with pores or other types, its can take much longer, and can sometimes be a little bit more awkward to get a good result. If you already have a good idea about the id of your mushroom and it doesn't have gills, then a quick Google search should be able to tell you the best way to make a spore print depending on how and from where that mushroom drops its spores.

I've experimented a little with trying to preserve them, simply because I think they're incredibly beautiful - and I've found the best way is to store them in the plastic wallets used for ring binders. Once the print is completely dry, they are relatively smudge proof, but I imagine would fade over time if left to the open air.

I hope you've found this little bit of nature's magic interesting and that you'll enjoy going out and about collecting different spore prints, and use them to help you to identify any mysterious mushrooms you might come across! If you do, please do share them with me over on Facebook or Instagram.

Happy foraging!



The Cramlington Forager

Here I share my own recipes which I use to make the most of seasonal wild food. You'll find handy foraging guides and plant profiles to help get to know the plants which grow all around us, and to start you down your own foraging journey.


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