Making And Fixing Spore-Prints. Various Colors Of Spores





Occasionally we shall look in vain for our print, which may signify that our specimen had already scattered its spores ere we had found it, or, what is more likely, that the spores are invisible upon the paper, owing to their whiteness, in which case black or colored paper must be substituted for the white ground, when the spores will be beautifully manifest in a white tracery upon the darker background. One of these, from the Amanita muscarius, is reproduced in Plate 37. If the specimen is left too long, the spore-deposit is continued upward between the gills, and may reach a quarter of an inch in height, in which case, if extreme care in lifting the cap is used, we observe a very realistic counterfeit of the gills of the mushroom in high relief upon the paper. A print of this kind is of course very fragile, and must be handled with care. But a comparatively slight deposit of the spores, without apparent thickness, will give us the most perfect print, while at the same time yielding the full color. Such a print may also be fixed by our present method so as to withstand considerable rough usage, by laying the paper upon a wet towel until the moisture has penetrated through and reached the gum. The spores are thus set, and, upon drying the paper, are securely fixed. Indeed, the moisture exuded by the confined fungus beneath the glass is often sufficient to set the spores.

Invisible Prints. Fixing The Print

A number of prints may be obtained successively from a single specimen gathered at its fruitful prime. To those of my readers interested in the science of this spore-shower I give illustrations of examples of the two more common groups of mushrooms - the Agaric, or gilled mushroom, and the Polyporus, or tube-bearing mushroom. The entire surface of both gills and pores is lined with the spore-bearing membrane or hymenium, the spores being produced in fours from each of the crowded sporophores, and, where all air is absolutely excluded, permitting them to fall directly beneath their point of departure as indicated; in the case of the Agaric, in radiating lines in correspondence with the spaces between the gills; and in Polyporus, directly beneath the opening of each pore, whose inner surface is lined with the sporophores, as shown in Plate 36.

This dust-shower is continuous in nature after the perfect ripening of the spores, but it is almost impossible to conceive of such an entire absence of moving air under natural conditions as to permit even a visible hint of the spore-shower to appear beneath its respective fungus. An exception to this rule is sometimes to be seen in fungi of massed growth - as, for example, beneath such a cluster as that shown on page 147. Indeed, a correspondent recently described such a cluster as "enveloped in a mist of its own spores floating away in the apparently still air."

In Plate 38 is shown a spore-print with a peculiar elongated tail. Such was the specimen which I ob-