How To Make A Spore Print

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Last Autumn, T and I spent a number of weeks exploring all things autumnal for our learning theme. As well as looking at changes in the natural world, we learned about Harvest, Bonfire Night, and Remembrance Day. One of the things we spent some time looking at was fungi, and by the end of the season T was an expert fungi-spotter!

A mushroom growing on the forest floor

As well as learning about how fungi grow, what the different parts of a mushroom are called, and having a go at growing our own mushrooms, we decided to have a go at making some spore prints.

Under the cap of the mushroom, between the gills, are the spores. They are microscopic and usually, it’s impossible to see them! But taking a spore print is a bit like magic really – it’s as though the print appears from nowhere!

To make a spore print, all you need is:

  • an open-capped mushroom (like a Portobello mushroom)
  • a piece of light coloured paper
  • A glass bowl
  • A little water

You can do this with mushrooms from the supermarket or ones you’ve picked yourself. However, if picking your own mushrooms, ensure that the mushrooms you’ve picked are safe, as the spores can be poisonous.

Four mushrooms caps on a piece of paper, covered by a glass bowl.

To make your spore print:

  1. Remove the stipe (stem) from the mushroom using a clean, sharp knife, ensuring you don’t touch the gills.
  2. Place the mushroom cap on your paper and add a drop or two of water on top.
  3. Cover the mushroom with an upturned glass bowl and leave for several hours or, ideally, overnight.
  4. In the morning, carefully remove your mushroom. Lift it straight up from the paper, so as not to smudge your print.

That’s it! Simple, huh?

Spore print shown through a magnifying glass.

Once you’ve made your print, have a good look through your magnifying glass! I’ve heard you can plant spore prints and grow mushrooms – I need to do a bit more investigation, but I’d love to give it a go! If you make your own spore prints, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram – I’d love to have a look!

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