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Mushroom Spore print guide?

 
Posts: 212
Location: near Athens, GA
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Can anyone recommend a good, very comprehensive guide to mushroom spore prints, with images for each, either in print or online?  I have a couple of field guides, but there are so many mushrooms I find that I just can't identify with certainty.  So, I end up puzzled and only eating maybe 10 types of wild mushrooms that are most common where I live.  
 
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You are playing with fire!  I would recommend looking online for a community of people who hunt mushrooms in your area.  Usually a picture posted online will get quick responses from other hunters.

This is a good guide: Mushrooms Demystified

I would wait for qualified mentor confirmation before noshing on the ones you find and think you identify.  The book has lots of spore print pics.  It does, unfortunately, focus on Western varieties of mushrooms.  It is mildly terrifying how a poisonous species can look exactly the same as an edible one, grow next to each other possibly even touching.  Close examination of spores reveals one will result in death, the other a happy tummy.  If you were going to forgo the mentor route I would not rely on the naked eye when looking at spores.  A good microscope would be a wise investment.

Maybe I'm paranoid.  
 
Wj Carroll
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Thanks, but I was unclear.  I have been foraging for mushrooms for around 25 years now, and did learn from older folks in the mountains of NC.  My area of the mountains is a temperate rain forest, with more varieties of mushrooms growing in the woods than can be found in any field guide I own - especially polypores and bollets.  I don't trust just going by color, size, shape, gills, habitat, etc to identify an unfamiliar mushroom with enough certainty to actually eat it, if it could in any way be mistaken for a poisonous mushroom or even one that just causes stomach upset (made that mistake one in my 20s).  What I am looking for is a comprehensive collection of spore prints for identification.  
 
Dominic Crolius
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Aah, sorry.  You have far more experience than I!  If it helps at all I use http://www.mycokey.com/ to identify down to the species, or a handful of possibles.  I would then do a google image search for the specific species I think I have with the almost 100% chance of someone posting a microscopic picture of the spore.  I rarely see a spore print online.  When I do, it was collected and photographed with an unhelpful resolution.  If you find a source I'd be interested!  Good luck!
 
Wj Carroll
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Very cool - never heard of this - thanks!
 
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also mushroomexpert . com
 
Wj Carroll
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Thanks!
 
pollinator
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You might ask The Mushroom Identification Group on Facebook.
 
pollinator
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These are all great responses. Mine, I fear, might be less helpful, but still relevant.

I was mushroom picking with my grandmother as soon as I could toddle down the dirt road with her and into the abandoned farmers' fields and through the woods in that part of Eastern Ontario. I don't remember ever being told, but I would never go pick the mushrooms myself, or even touch them at first. Eventually there were two or three seasonal varieties (one a type of Chanterelle that grows with Jack Pine) that I could recognise on site, and would get excited about.

She had a way of testing mushrooms she thought should be good, but wasn't certain about. She would first break open the cap and smell it, and then wait. If there were no obvious sinus reactions, she'd rub a little of the broken cap onto the inside of her wrist, and observe. If there was no swelling, numbness, tingling, or rash, or any other negative effect, she would then bite off a tiny piece, chew it up, and spit it out, and again, wait. She usually waited at least an hour for all of these steps. The last one involved actually taking a small bite, chewing, and swallowing it, and then going to bed. If she woke up, and if there were no adverse reactions, she tried more.

Maybe it was that she only used this method on mushrooms that were similar enough to ones she knew that their physical differences could have been explained by differences in growth stages, but she never had an issue. Not with testing mushrooms, anyways. I remember two stories about coming back from picking mushrooms at dusk, one involving a bull and the barbed wire of a farmer's fence, and one a bear leaning up against a tree, mistaken for a neighbour.

Good times.

-CK

 
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Wj Carroll wrote:Can anyone recommend a good, very comprehensive guide to mushroom spore prints, with images for each, either in print or online?  I have a couple of field guides, but there are so many mushrooms I find that I just can't identify with certainty.  So, I end up puzzled and only eating maybe 10 types of wild mushrooms that are most common where I live.  



spore prints Might try this site, The North American Mycological Association
 
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Chris Kott wrote:

She had a way of testing mushrooms she thought should be good, but wasn't certain about. She would first break open the cap and smell it, and then wait. If there were no obvious sinus reactions, she'd rub a little of the broken cap onto the inside of her wrist, and observe. If there was no swelling, numbness, tingling, or rash, or any other negative effect, she would then bite off a tiny piece, chew it up, and spit it out, and again, wait. She usually waited at least an hour for all of these steps. The last one involved actually taking a small bite, chewing, and swallowing it, and then going to bed. If she woke up, and if there were no adverse reactions, she tried more.



This is a good method for poisonous plants but fails catastrophically with mushrooms as a lot of the deadly ones are perfectly fine and tasty but dead comes from your liver and/or kidneys shutting down days after consumption.
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Oh I am well aware. I would never use this method myself. But she obviously survived. As did people for thousands of years before microscopes.

I do think this kind of knowledge is great for pushing beyond traditional culinary fare. And, of course, for safety, especially for those just getting into it.

-CK
 
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