What Are Some Tips for Identifying Fungi?


Quick Answer

One tip for identifying fungi is to determine spore color by creating a spore print. Another tip is to examine habitats of fungi to identify them.

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Full Answer

To get started identifying fungi, find a quality field guide book on mushrooms that is relevant to the area. It is best to also bring a local mushroom expert or mycologist along for more hands-on tips. Learn the poisonous fungi first so that danger is minimized.

Spore color is determined by making a spore print. The spore-producing segment of the fungus is placed on a sheet of dark and white paper or clear plastic for a few hours. The spore imprint is visible once the fungus is removed from the paper. Professional mycologists use microscopes to quickly and accurately determine spore color, but this is not essential. Spore imprints come in varieties of white, cream, black, brown, purple and red.

It is sometimes possible to examine the forest floor and see spore dust coating the area around a fungus. This makes it clear what the spore color is without needing to make a spore print.

Habitat is also useful in fungi identification. Not all mushrooms grow in the same type of location, and some mushrooms can only grow in one specific area. Look at the soil and trees around a fungus and determine the substrate. A mushroom's substrate is the substance from which the mushroom emerges. Substrates can be straw, logs, sawdust, stumps, compost and most organic materials.

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