Making spore prints is like seed saving for Mushrooms, as it were.
And not only are spore prints an easy and fun way to get to know mushrooms, if you chose to do it carefully, they’re also a very cheap way to cultivate more mushrooms at home…
Spore prints are used for three main purposes – mushroom cultivation, mushroom identification (as different mushrooms have different coloured spores, and this is an easy way to figure out spore colour), and of course art.
The basic process is super simple.
For gilled mushrooms, simply cut off the stalk of a freshly picked mushroom and lay it gill side down on a piece of paper, or glass.
Covering your mushroom/s at this point with a glass vessel or similar is a good idea, as this will reduce evaporation and airflow, ensuring a clearer (and hopefully less contaminated) spore print.
In 6 – 12 hours, the mushroom should release its millions of spores onto the paper, in the radiating pattern of the gills. You now have a spore print.
– Spore prints are a great simple technique for capturing new genetics to add to your mushroom cultivation setup
– Spore prints can be made on the go – you can even seal them up and easily post them home if you’re mid-mushroom-hunt.
– Spore prints offer much more diversity of characteristics to the home mushroom grower than making a phenotypic clone – it’s just like the difference between growing from seed, as opposed to grafting.
Make sure you have a mature mushroom (no veil), which is as fresh as possible. Try and keep things as sterile as possible during the whole process.
Collecting spores on paper
Collecting spores on plates of glass
Germinating the spores from your spore print is best done on nutrified agar plates in a glove box setup, as with tissue/agar cloning.
Alternatively, a spore syringe can be made, but this is a bit more tricky.
Method 1: scalpel and streaking
Method 2: paper rubbing
Method 3: spore syringe
A spore syringe is a bit trickier to make. It contains sterile water with hydrated spores in it.
The advantage of a spore syringe is that this spore water can be used to inoculate the substrate of your choice. This way the chance that the spores will germinate is much higher.
The thing that I love about spore prints is that they are at once beautiful and practical – functional art that, if handled carefully, can result in yet another home harvest!
If you’d like to get started in home mushroom cultivation, we run comprehensive Gourmet Mushroom Cultivation workshops in Sydney that cover many different indoor/outdoor cultivation techniques.
Students go home from our workshops armed to the teeth with knowledge, confidence, resources, mushrooms and materials to get growing at home.