Microscopy for Purposes of Identification (Newbie Question)

Tim and Runjuan Childress timantoi at crosslink.net
Sun Jun 1 22:28:03 EST 1997

Hello All.

   Please forgive the intrusion of a newbie in this scholarly company;
I would have been content to inhabit alt.mushrooms, but the focus
there seems to be a bit esoteric, specifically upon cultivation of
basidiomycetes from the genus Psilocybe.
   My own interest at present is in identification and collection of
mushrooms in the field, with a strong emphasis on mycophagy.  Given the
evident phenotypic variation among specimens, I would feel much more
secure if I could use microscopic characteristics as an aid to
identification.  In particular, I am thinking of spore shape, size
and color.  It so happens that I have a student-grade light microscope
which magnifies up to 1000X; in the past I've used it to view hair,
protists in pond water, and other such dabblings.  Now I wish to use it
to identify mushrooms, making permanent slides of spores from prominent
edible and toxic species, and perhaps doing a bit of photomicrography.
Can anyone point me to resources for help on technique, supplies,
references, online images of spores, etc.?

Thank you,

Tim Childress

P.S.  Mushroomers, you might find this anecdote interesting.  My
wife comes from Thailand ("Sawaddi khrab thugthug khon; phom phuud
phaasaa Thai dai nidnoi.").  Last Fall, we were
strolling through our woods when she spied a mushroom.  She was
overjoyed to find that America, too, has straw mushrooms, and assured
me it was edible.  Knowing even less about mushrooms than I do now,
but knowing the danger of not knowing, I advised her to leave it
alone.  If my memory serves me correctly, the specimen did indeed
resemble a straw mushroom -except for the presence of a ring on the

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