Creating a Spore Print
Spore prints are an exciting, engaging experiment that gives you a quick reward, allowing you to:
- Grow many mushrooms from the spores of just one mushroom
- Identify wild mushrooms
- Make one-of-a-kind nature-themed artwork
Are you ready to begin?
You will need:
- A very fresh mushroom (we recommend shiitake, oyster, chestnut or a wild mushroom)
- Light and dark colors of paper OR a piece of glass/plexiglass
- Glass or bowl to cover the experiment
- Remove the stem from the mushroom
- Place the cap gills down on the paper towel/piece of paper. If you know the color of the spores, choose a contrasting color of paper. Shiitake and oyster mushrooms drop white or cream spores. Chestnut mushrooms drop brown spores. You can also use a piece of glass so you can move it over different colors of paper
- Place the glass over the cap and paper; let it rest for 24 hours. This time will allow for the spores to fall from the gills.
- Carefully remove the glass, and lift the cap from the paper to reveal your beautiful spore print! If you plan to grow mushrooms from your print, you can keep the print in a sealed bag in a dry, dark place until you’re ready to cultivate it.
Spore prints are unique just like snowflakes in that no two spore prints are ever the same. Maybe you’ll use your spore print to cultivate your own batch of mushrooms, or you’ll hang the spore print on your wall to show off your newly learned skill. Whichever you choose, spore prints are a fantastic activity to do to explore the life cycle of mushrooms, or do with your kids!
How do mushrooms grow from spores?
Growing mushrooms from spores is a challenge worth taking on for experienced mushroom connoisseurs. This is done through extracting spores from the head of a mushroom. Spores are microscopic organisms that essentially provide a blueprint for the growth of a new mushroom. Depending on the size, mushroom caps may host millions of spores ready to germinate. The process of successfully growing mushrooms from spores is somewhat tedious, but a rewarding one when done properly. See our blog post about creating a spore print here (link blog) to get started before you can begin the cultivating process.
There are two ways to start the process of germinating the spores that you have collected. First, many beginner growers simply spread the tiny spores over a container of soil with compost mixed in. The key component to seeing mushrooms pop up is giving it warmth and moisture. Mushrooms thrive in humid conditions, and make sure the container isn’t in direct sunlight. The time it takes for mushrooms to emerge varies, so patience is key!
For more novice growers, you can create a spore syringe. This method is slightly more challenging, as contamination is possible. Make sure you use a sterile syringe, placing the tip in flames for a few seconds should do the job. Use distilled water that has been boiled to remove all possible contaminants. Fill a sterile syringe with cooled distilled water. Combine half of the water in the syringe with the spores from the print in a sterile glass. To do so, shoot half of the water from the syringe into a sterile glass, then scrape the spores from the paper towel into the glass using a sterile utensil. Now draw the spore and water mixture back into the syringe.
Spores require another substance other than light to successfully germinate. Common substances include sawdust, straw, coffee grounds, and grain. Spawn is created when you blend the spores with said substance. Spawn allows mycelium to grow, which is the fungus that will grow mushrooms! In order to start the fruiting process, inject the spore syringe into the substance you chose, like moist coffee grounds. Creating your own spawn must be done in a sterile environment, and may present several challenges. There is a lot of information on the internet about creating your own spawn, we suggest looking into it before getting started.
This process has many variables, and is certainly not a beginner activity. Extensive research is recommended before attempting to grow your own mushrooms from spores. If this activity seems daunting, our grow kits are a great way to start learning about the mushroom growth process!
© Photo by Derek SooHoo