Mushroom Spores: What Are They & How To Get Your Own (2024)

Most people don’t think about cultivating mushrooms. We go to the grocery store, pick them up from the vegetable section (even though fungi are not plants!), and leave them at that.

However, if you’re interested in growing mushrooms, from functional kinds to magic mushrooms or any other kind of fresh mushroom, you might be wondering - did the spore or the mushroom come first? We're not here for a philosophical wander down the fungal version of the chicken or the egg - but instead, we are here to help educate you about the beauty of mushroom spores and how you can begin cultivating them.

What Are Mushroom Spores?

Before we get into more detail about how to grow mushrooms, it’s a good idea to explain what spores are.

Even though you find mushrooms in the vegetable section of the grocery store, and they’re usually grouped with veggies, they’re not actually vegetables at all. In fact, mushrooms are a type of fungus and belong to a group of plants known as thallus plants.

That is to say, they’re a simpler form of plant that doesn’t have all the characteristics of more advanced plant species – and one of the differences is how mushrooms reproduce.

Unlike more evolved plant species, mushrooms don’t create seeds. Instead, they have what are called “spores” which are self-contained cells that are designed for reproduction. When the spores spread, they are fertilized, and when they land on a suitable material, they put down “roots” and grow.

These tiny one-celled organisms can be found in some of the most unfavorable conditions within the harshest environments on Earth. From there, the spores begin to germinate or grow, before the mycelium, or branching cells, begin to form. Once they branch out, the fruiting body takes shape before evolving into its mature body.

What Do Mushroom Spores Look Like?

Mushroom spores look like fine dust, and they can be a variety of colors. Some spores, like the ones from portobello mushrooms, are dark brown. But others could be white, cream, red, purple, or even (usually with poisonous mushrooms!) green.

Mushroom Spores: What Are They & How To Get Your Own (1)

If you've ever brushed a fresh mushroom cap, you might see a cloud of smoke or mist arise from the mushroom. Those are microscopic spores beginning their adventure as they seek refuge among the soil or the stars.

Cultivation Methods for Spores - Prints and Syringes

In the wild, mushroom reproduction is mostly about luck and wind – the wind catches the spores, and then it’s a matter of luck that they’re fertilized and find a suitable place to grow. However, it’s possible to do this yourself too, and because you’re in control, it’s more a predictable and controllable process!

Proper planning is required for mushroom cultivation. Before you begin it's important to note, cultivating using spores can be a tricky process, as it requires the individual to start at the very beginning of a mushroom's life cycle. And with more steps in place, there's an increased chance of something controllable or uncontrollable going wrong. A great way to hedge against these factors is using tin foil rather than paper or glass. Tinfoil is more sterile (as it can be cleaned with alcohol) and makes transferring the spores much easier.

More importantly, for you, the fungi, and the ecosystem - spores aren't produced until near the end of the mushroom life cycle, so be sure to try and find a mushroom that is mature in age!

How to Cultivate Using Spore Prints

  1. Carefully remove the stem from the fully matured mushroom you want to grow.
  2. Remove any remaining pieces of “skirt” which is the “frill” around the top of the stem that protects the dark spores on the gills.
  3. Place the prepared mushroom cap spore side down on a sheet of tin foil and cover it with a small glass container, bowl, or cup.
  4. Leave the mushroom cap face down under the glass for a day.
  5. Depending on the maturity of the mushroom - reliable spore prints can take an hour to a day to result in a worthwhile spore print.
  6. After the time is up, remove the glass and lift the cap – you should see a spore print on the tin foil/paper.
  7. Now, fold the tin foil to cover the spores and place them in a sealed plastic bag.
  8. These prints can be stored at room temperature and can last decades.
  9. The standard method is scraping off the spores from the print into a nutrified agar plate.

How to Cultivate Using Spore Syringes

  1. Follow steps 1 - 6 as listed above, step 7 is where the change begins when using mushroom spore syringes.
  2. Place the spores in sterilized water.
  3. You can buy sterilized water or make it yourself! To sterilize water, place water in a covered pan and boil it for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Once the sterilized water and spores have been mixed, you can inject the spore solution back into the spore syringe for storage.
  5. With the spore syringe, you can also inoculate sterilized grain or inject it right into the substrate.

Now that you know how to grow mushrooms, it’s easy to see that this is not particularly hard. It just takes a little time and some attention to detail. Add some nutrient-rich material and a dark, warm place in your home, and you should soon have your own crop of mushrooms!

In a nutshell, rather a fruiting body, spore syringes suspend the spores in a solution without destroying them (hence the importance of sterilized water). Spore prints are more like a stamp that can be left overnight and then tucked away for years and years to come. Maybe the fungal prints can be your next white elephant gift!

Mushroom Spores: What Are They & How To Get Your Own (2)

Where to Buy Mushroom Spores

As you can see from the growing instructions above, you could harvest your own mushroom spores from mushrooms themselves. But there are also many websites that sell special types of mushrooms including psilocybin mushroom spores, so if you’re looking for something specific, the internet is a great place to look!

Buying mushroom spores and even premium spores is relatively easy, depending on what kind of mushroom you’re looking for. You can also buy full mushroom growing kits, which have all the stuff you need to start growing your own mushroom crop included. It’s as easy as putting the contents of the syringe on the growing material and waiting for them to sprout!

Where's the best place to buy mushroom spores?What about the best place to buy psilocybin spores? Who are the best mushroom spore suppliers?

Our favorite place tobuy the best shroom spores online is Spores Lab. They have a variety ofmushroom spore strains and psilocybe cubensis spore syringes.

How Long Do Mushroom Spores Last?

Mushroom spores have a very long “lifespan.” In fact, mushroom spore prints can last many years. Some have even been known to remain viable for as long as 18 years!

Once mushroom spores have been prepared in a syringe, they will deteriorate faster, because the water encourages bacteria growth. So, if you have a prepared syringe, you should aim to use it in about 8 to 10 months.

Are Mushroom Spores Legal?

The legal status depends on the type of mushroom you want to grow – and where you live! are always legal, everywhere.

In short, yes. Whether it's medicinal mushroom sporeslike lion's mane, oyster, or shiitake mushrooms, or even psychedelic mushroom spores, it is legal to buy mushrooms spores. When buying psilocybin spores, these spores don't yet contain the magical compound which means they're technically legal. Think about it as a mycelial loophole.

Mushroom Spores: What Are They & How To Get Your Own (3)

The illegality comes into play around germinating or cultivating the spores into psilocybin mushrooms. Since buying spores is supposed to be only intended for educational or research and identification purposes, most people can buy spores so long as they do not germinate.

Sopsilocybe cubensis spores are technically legal. But both the mycelium and fruiting mushrooms contain psilocybin, a controlled substance, making them illegal. So once the magic mushroom spores begin to germinate, technically law enforcement can legally charge you with cultivation or possession of a controlled substance. The same holds true for the possession or sale of fresh and dried psilocybin mushrooms.

So, if you're fruiting bodies are free from psilocybin, you're good to go! Popular strains are lion's mane, reishi, turkey tail, oyster, or shiitake mushrooms to name a few. There are spore vendors far and wide, so make sure you read the reviews or even pop the companies in Reddit for a deeper dive into the legitimacy to sell spores.

But, if the spores will evolve into psychedelic mushrooms, cultivating these fresh mushrooms is still illegal. While the narrative is shifting and powerful research is coming around in the psychedelic landscape, these laws have not bent, although, in time, we believe they will have no choice to bend or reshape completely.

No matter the personal use of your particular mushroom strain, make sure you do your research, understand the rules and laws at play, and decide accordingly.

The Come Down

Spores are literally everywhere! From space to our lungs, to the moldy food we need to toss, and everywhere in between. There are some estimates that we breathe in up to 10 billion spores a day!

As you continue learning if the grow-at-home movement is for you, understand the rules in place. Where your particular mushroom strains lie and why it is you want to grow in the first place matter. To connect with the life cycle of one of Earth's most ancient organisms is... magical. Whether you're talking to the spores or the fruiting bodies, taking pictures and sharing them with friends, or simply being present as you garden, enjoy the process, learn from the outcomes, and have fun growing your fungi (or fungals).

Further Reading

How to Grow Psychedelic Mushrooms

Ayahuasca retreats in the USA

How to pass a drug test

Mushroom Spores: What Are They & How To Get Your Own (2024)


What are mushroom spores? ›

Mushroom spores are the reproductive organs of the mushroom. They are similar to seeds, but instead of being contained inside an outer coating, or fruit, they are released into the air as tiny dust-like particles. Each spore contains all the genetic information needed for a new mushroom to grow and reproduce.

How do you grow mushroom spores at home? ›

Growing mushrooms at home starts with making a spore syringe from mature mushroom caps. Keep the growing medium moist and warm, around 70°F, for spores to thrive and turn into mushrooms. Harvest mushrooms when the cap separates from the stem and store them in paper bags in the fridge.

How do you make a mushroom spore solution? ›

Making a Mycelium Liquid Culture
  1. You can also use your spores to make a mycelium liquid culture that can be used to inoculate the substrate. ...
  2. In a Mason jar, mix a 25-to-1 ratio of distilled water and light corn syrup. ...
  3. Now, sterilize the solution in a pressure cooker.

Where do the spores of a mushroom come from? ›

Many basidiomycete fungi produce annual ephemeral sexual fruit bodies from which billions of spores are spread into the air within a time span that often lasts for only a few days. In temperate and boreal ecosystems, most mushrooms (Agaricomycetidae) fruit during the autumn.

What do mushroom spores turn into? ›

Key Takeaways. Mushroom spores are not seeds but are vital for fungi reproduction, spreading their genetic material to create new mushrooms. Spores travel through the air, hitch rides on animals, or get moved by water and can germinate into mycelium under the right conditions.

Can you collect your own mushroom spores? ›

Collecting spores

A mature mushroom is said to contain up to 16 billion spores and so this gives plenty of opportunities to propagate. It is relatively easy but quite time consuming to collect your own spores as all you need is a mushroom (but make sure it's a known edible variety), some paper and glass.

Where is the best place to plant mushroom spores? ›

Mushrooms are best grown under-cover, where temperature and moisture can be controlled. A shed, garage, garden cold frame or cellar will work well – anywhere out of the sun where it's possible to give mushrooms their optimum growing temperature of around 15°C (the temperature shouldn't go below 10°C or above 20°C).

Can you breathe in mushroom spores? ›

Mushroom spores can cause lung problems like hypersensitivity pneumonitis and asthma attacks if inhaled. Symptoms of inhaling spores include coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. Severe cases may need medical treatment with steroids or hospital care.

Can I grow a mushroom from another mushroom? ›

The Cloning Process

All you need to do is harvest a piece of tissue from a mushroom fruitbody, place it on agar, and allow the mycelium to grow out until you have pure culture. Easy! This strategy works because the mushroom fruitbody, even after being picked, is still a living, breathing, manifestation of mycelium.

How long can you keep mushroom spores for? ›

Key Takeaways. Mushroom spore syringes can last 4 to 12 months in the fridge, and high – quality ones may last up to 24 months. Keep them away from light for best results. Spore prints should be stored dry and away from sunlight to remain viable for years.

What is the most common store bought mushroom? ›

Button mushrooms are the most common type of mushroom you'll find at the grocery store—in fact, an estimated 90% of the mushrooms we eat in the US are of the button variety. Less intensely flavored than many of their kin, button mushrooms (scientific name, Agaricus bisporus) are the mildest-tasting mushroom around.

What do I inject mushroom spores into? ›

Inject the needle into the self-healing injection port (grey square). Squirt 5-10cc of spores towards the bottom and side of the grain bag. Some liquid may be visible through the bag after injection.

Can you put mushroom spores directly into substrate? ›

In nature, spores germinate and grow very poorly; therefore, another method to seed the mushroom substrate is required. The mushroom mycelium (threadlike filaments that become interwoven) is propagated on a base of steam sterilized cereal grain (usually rye or millet).

How do you inject spores into a mushroom bag? ›

Push the needle about 1/2 inch into the bag and inject spores. Pull the needle half way out and angle it in a different direction and inject another 1-2 cc's of spores We recommend a total of 4-5 cc's of spores per bag. Depending on how easily/ affordably you can access spores - the more you use, the faster it grows!

Are mushroom spores toxic? ›

They also may contain significant amounts of mycotoxins. Diseases associated with inhalation of fungal spores include toxic pneumonitis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, tremors, chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney failure, and cancer.

Are mushroom spores healthy? ›

Breathing in mushroom spores might lead to diseases like lycoperdonosis or hypersensitivity pneumonitis, especially for people with asthma. To stay safe, wear masks around mushrooms, improve indoor ventilation, control humidity, and keep living areas clean.

Why are mushroom spores important? ›

Millions of tons of fungal spores are dispersed in the atmosphere every year. These living cells, along with plant spores and pollen grains, may act as nuclei for condensation of water in clouds. Basidiospores released by mushrooms form a significant proportion of these aerosols, particularly above tropical forests.

Are spores harmful to humans? ›

Exposure to a large number of mold spores may cause allergic symptoms such as watery eyes, runny nose, sneezing, itching, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, headache, and fatigue. Repeated exposure to mold can increase a person's sensitivity, causing more severe allergic reactions.

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