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How to Make a Spore Print

Sure, you can make beautiful pieces of art from the spores of a mushroom, but you can also learn more about the mushroom in the process, too!

Watch this video to learn how to make a spore print and explore more resources below.

Do you know what a spore is?

A spore is a reproductive cell. Some plants make them but bacteria, algae, and fungi make them too. Spores are to mushrooms as seeds are to plants. Spores are how mushrooms reproduce and make more mushrooms. 

The first step to making a spore print is collecting a mushroom.

You can collect from:

  • Your yard
  • Your friend’s yard (with permission)
  • Local city park. 

You cannot collect from:

  • Someone else’s property without permission
  • State parks

Please follow the rules of where you collect and make sure it is okay to collect from the area you are visiting. 

Bring something to carry your mushroom with, like a basket or paper bag. You don’t want them to get squished in your pocket! Only pick the mushroom if there are a lot around because they are important for the environment

Do you know why mushrooms are important? 

Mushrooms are decomposers which means that they break down dead materials such as fallen leaves and logs to make soil and nutrients that help other living things survive. Remember to wash your hands after handling mushrooms!

Once back home:

  1. Gather jars or containers big enough to place over the mushrooms. Gather white and black paper. It is okay if you only have white paper, but some mushroom spores are white and therefore they won’t show up on white paper that well. 
  2. Take the stems off the mushrooms using your hands or scissors. 
  3. Place the mushrooms with the gills or pores facing down onto the paper. Then place the container over the mushroom to create an airtight seal.
  4. Leave the mushrooms covered anywhere from a couple hours to overnight based on how fresh the mushrooms are.
  5. After you let the mushrooms sit for a while, carefully pick up the containers and the mushrooms to reveal the spore print. Spore prints are fragile, so try to avoid touching it. 

Resources for identifying mushrooms

Long-term lessons: Perspectives on three years of mushroom monitoring in the Santa Cruz Mountains with Christian Schwarz

As mushroom hunters, we enjoy traveling far and wide, bouncing from place to place and following the rains to stay with the season. But what happens when we focus on revisiting the same small areas whether there has been rain or not? And what if we take it a step further, and rather than just harvesting chanterelles or photographing the flashiest species, we take the time to pay attention to everything, counting individual fruitbodies and keeping track of changes from year to to year?

Christian Schwarz has been undertaking just such an effort for the past three years, supported by a grant from the Save the Redwoods League, and this year, some of his survey transects were burned in the CZU Lightning Complex fires. Join the Kenneth S. Norris Center for Natural History, the San Lorenzo Valley Museum, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History to hear what discoveries, lessons, and patterns have emerged from this ambitious project.

Resources

Watch past presentations from Christian:
Data is Not the Destination
Macabre Mushrooms: Ghouls of the Woods

Other resources:

About the speaker

Christian Schwarz is a naturalist currently living in Santa Cruz, the land of milk (caps) and honey (mushrooms). He studied Ecology and Evolution at UCSC, and now spends his time photographing, teaching about, collecting, and researching macrofungi. He is coauthor of Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast. Fungi satisfy his curiosity with their seemingly endless forms – from the grotesque to the bizarre to the sublimely beautiful. Besides dabbling in mushroom taxonomy, he loves fish, plants, nudibranchs, moths, and dragonflies. He is passionate about citizen science, especially iNaturalist.

This program is part of a series in support of the exhibit Look. Act. Inspire. and is presented in partnership between

Image result for san lorenzo valley museum

Rockin’ Pop-Up: The Varieties of Volcanoes

This month, the Geology Gents explore how varied volcanoes can be. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione, PhD candidates in geochronology at UC Santa Cruz, put on blast how lava type affects the appearance of volcanoes and the way those volcanoes erupt.

About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each month we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

Submit your questions ahead of time by emailing events@santacruzmuseum.org and feel free to include pictures of rocks you’d like identified! Note: you do not need to have a Facebook account to be able to watch the program live.

Watch Past Pop-Ups
Read our blog Rock Record

Collections Close-Up: Picturing Nature

From rediscovered family photos to contemporary takes on unprecedented times, pictures taken for all kinds of purposes illuminate our collective understanding of the changing world around us. This month we investigate and celebrate the capacity of photography to shape our relationship with nature, from our foundational collections to our current exhibits.

Resources


About the series: Zoom into the stories, secrets, and science of our collections during monthly webinars with Collections Manager Kathleen Aston. This live event is an extension of our monthly Collections Close-Up blog, with added insights and intrigue. Members are invited to participate in this program before it is made available to the general public as well as ask questions directly of Kathleen.

Not yet a Member? Join today!

Rockin’ Pop-Up: Paleoclimatology

This month, the Geology Gents explore what has happened to the Earth throughout its history when sudden climate change has occurred. Hint: it usually involves mass extinctions. Look back at last month’s episode exploring Ice Ages as a primer for this discussion of paleoclimatology, or the study of ancient climates.

About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each month we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

Submit your questions ahead of time by emailing events@santacruzmuseum.org and feel free to include pictures of rocks you’d like identified! Pro-tip: the better the picture, the better the ID.

Watch Past Pop-Ups
Read our blog Rock Record

Naturalist Night: Santa Cruz Sandhills

The Santa Cruz Sandhills are a rare habitat in the Santa Cruz mountains that support a very specific niche of plants and animals. Many of our endemic species in the County are limited specifically to the Sandhills. Join us for an overview of this habitat’s geologic history, rare plants and animals, and the human impacts that have added to its scarcity. This is a great class for budding naturalists and those looking to revisit the basics.

We are excited to be joined this month by paleontologist, science teacher, and Sandhills-local Wayne Thompson who will help us dig deeper into the geology of the habitat by showing off his fossil finds.

About the series: Join fellow nature enthusiasts for monthly explorations of the biodiversity of Santa Cruz County. Each month, our Public Programs Manager Marisa Gomez will share the stories of a specific Santa Cruz habitat as we develop our skills as naturalists.

This series will feature a presentation as well as an interactive session and is in partnership with Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Come prepared to share and to learn alongside naturalists deep in their journey and just starting out.

Resources

Watch other Naturalist Nights

Collections Close-Up: Tide Pools and Touch

Take the plunge into the interactive world of our intertidal touch pool exhibit, which has provided visitors with an intimate look at the interior world of the sea outside our doors for decades.

Museum staff explore the history of these hands-on exhibits, from beachside Victorian tubs to today’s collecting permits. We further investigate the care of these seaworthy collections, including the practical challenges of creating intertidal conditions, and their special capacity to connect people to nature.

Resources


About the series: Zoom into the stories, secrets, and science of our collections during monthly webinars with Collections Manager Kathleen Aston. This live event is an extension of our monthly Collections Close-Up blog, with added insights and intrigue. Members are invited to participate in this program before it is made available to the general public as well as ask questions directly of Kathleen.

Not yet a Member? Join today!

Rockin’ Pop-Up: Ice Ages

 Join the Geology Gents as they explore how Earth freezes over! Sure, the weather is getting cooler in Santa Cruz as we head into winter, but far cooler temperatures have prevailed on Earth during “ice age” climates. In this Rockin’ Pop-Up the Gents dive into the history of Earth’s ice ages. Some ice ages may have covered the entire planet with ice, while other periods are punctuated by cold “glacial” ice ages and warm “interglacial” periods — which is what our Earth is currently undergoing.

About the Series: Join the Geology Gents, Gavin and Graham, for monthly conversations about rocks live on Facebook. Each month we’ll explore a different geologic topic, from Santa Cruz formations to tips for being a more effective rockhound. Graham Edwards and Gavin Piccione are PhD candidates in geochronology with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

Submit your questions ahead of time by emailing events@santacruzmuseum.org and feel free to include pictures of rocks you’d like identified! Pro-tip: the better the picture, the better the ID.

Watch Past Pop-Ups
Read our blog Rock Record

Fire and Mud: Why Fires Cause Debris Flows in California with Noah Finnegan

Geomorphologist Noah Finnegan provides an overview of the science linking wildfires and debris flows in California, including lessons learned from the 2009 Lockheed Fire in the Santa Cruz mountains. Particular emphasis is paid to how residents impacted by the CZU Lightning Complex can navigate resources to better understand their debris-flow risks.

Resources

Below are resources referred to in the presentation and major take-aways from Noah Finnegan:

About the Speaker

Noah Finnegan is a professor in Earth and Planetary Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. Noah’s research and teaching are focused on processes of erosion and sediment transport on hill slopes and in river channels.

Naturalist Night: Coastal Prairies

California’s Coastal Prairies are a rare and incredibly biodiverse habitat found in Santa Cruz, and the most species-rich grassland type in North America. Despite its rarity and species-richness, this is a habitat-type at risk of continued range loss due to development, fire suppression, invasive plants, and other factors. During this interactive class we will explore these threats to this habitat type, as well as what makes coastal prairies unique, including the geology of coastal terraces, notable species, and ecological factors that have impacted the habitat type over millennia, including cultural burning by indigenous communities.

We are also excited to have a special guest join us this time! Justin Luong is a Ph.D. researcher in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, currently focused on grassland restoration in California, and will share his research regarding potential impacts on coastal prairies due to climate change and drought.

About the series: Join fellow nature enthusiasts for monthly explorations of the biodiversity of Santa Cruz County. Each month, our Public Programs Manager Marisa Gomez will share the stories of a specific Santa Cruz habitat as we develop our skills as naturalists.

This series will feature a presentation as well as an interactive session and is in partnership with Santa Cruz Public Libraries. Come prepared to share and to learn alongside naturalists deep in their journey and just starting out.

Watch other Naturalist Nights