How to determine the color of spore powder

We get a print of spore powder ("Spore print")

Sometimes it is necessary to know the color of the spore powder to accurately identify the fungus. Why are we talking about "spore powder" and not about the color of the spores? One dispute cannot be seen with the naked eye, but if they were poured massively, with powder, then they are visible.

Spore print

In foreign literature, the term "spore print" is used, which is short and capacious. The translation turns out to be longer: "imprint of spore powder", the word "imprint" here may not be entirely correct, but it stuck and is used.

Before starting the procedure for obtaining "spore print" at home, carefully examine the mushrooms in nature, right at the collection point. Adult specimens generously scatter spores around themselves - this is a natural reproduction process, because mushrooms, or rather, their fruiting bodies, do not grow in order to get into the mushroom picker's basket: spores ripen in them.

Pay attention to the colored dust covering foliage, grass or the ground under mushrooms - this is what it is, spore powder.

Examples, here is a pinkish powder on a leaf:

Spore print

And here is the white powder on a sheet under the mushroom:

Spore print

Mushrooms growing close to each other sprinkle spores on the caps of their stunted neighbors.

Spore powder on caps

However, under natural conditions, spore powder is carried away by the wind, washed off by rain, it can be difficult to determine its color if it is poured onto a colored sheet or a bright hat. It is necessary to obtain an imprint of the spore powder under stationary conditions.

There is nothing complicated about it! You will need:

  • paper (or glass), where we will collect the powder
  • a glass or cup to cover the mushroom
  • actually, the mushroom itself
  • a little patience

To get a spore print at home, you need to pick a relatively mature mushroom. Mushrooms with unopened caps, or too young, or mushrooms with a preserved veil are not suitable for making a print.

It is not recommended to wash the mushroom chosen for the "spore print". Carefully cut off the leg, but not under the very cap, but so that you can put the cap on this scrap as close to the surface of the paper as possible, but so that the plates (or sponge) do not touch the surface. If the cap is too large, you can take a small segment. The top skin can be moistened with a couple of drops of water. We cover our mushroom with a glass to exclude drafts and premature drying of the cap.

We leave it for several hours, preferably overnight, at normal room temperature, never in the refrigerator.

For a dung beetle, this period can be reduced, for them everything happens too quickly.

Spore print

For relatively young mushrooms, it may take a day or more.

In my case, it was only after two days that we managed to obtain an imprint of such intensity that it was possible to make out the color. The quality was not very good, but it helped to clearly identify the species, the powder is not pink, which means not entoloma.

Spore print

When you lift the cap, be careful, do not move it, do not smear the picture: the spores fell vertically downward without air movement, so that we will see not only the color of the powder, but also the pattern of the plates or pores.

That, in fact, is all. We got an imprint of spore powder, you can take pictures for identification or just "for memory". Don't be embarrassed if you don't get a pretty picture the first time. The main thing is the color of the spore powder - we found out. And the rest comes with experience.

Spore print

One more point remained unclear: what color of paper is better to use? For light "spore print" (white, creamy, cream), it is logical to use black paper. For the dark, of course, white. An alternative and very convenient option is to make a print not on paper, but on glass. Then, depending on the result obtained, you can examine the print by changing the background under the glass.

Similarly, you can get "spore print" for ascomycetes ("marsupial" mushrooms). It should be noted that axomycetes scatter spores around themselves, and not down, so cover them with a container wider.

Photos used in the article: Sergey, Vitaly Gumenyuk