How do you view mushroom gills without breaking mushroom?

I know part of ID’ing a mushroom is looking at the gills (or lack of gills). I have had issues where a mushroom is too short for me to get a picture. I feel bad breaking or picking the mushroom just to get an ID, so I just give up and don’t get pictures of under the cap. My question is, do mushrooms grow back? Am I feeling bad for no reason? Can you dig up a mushroom and re-plant it? I am a total mushroom newbie.

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You can use a small mirror to peek underneath. Or slide your phone under if there is a gap.

This is a hot debate. Mushroom ID almost always requires damaging the mushroom at least a little. This does not harm the main organism, as a mushroom is only the reproductive part that makes spores.

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I use a telescoping inspection mirror with LED lights. This pic shows how I use it to examine undersides of zucchini leaves for squash vine borer moth eggs. Very handy for all sorts of situations.

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There’re also some suggestions in this thread https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/life-hacks-for-naturalists/4636
Shrooms are just fruiting bodies, so you have to take this in mind, you can read it up here: https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/reasons-not-to-pick-mushrooms/9024

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If you want to ID, you will have to damage at least one fruit body. Not only presence/absence of gills are important, but also the surface of stem along the whole length, colour ant its changes of the flesh - best when the fruit body is cut in halves lengthwise (thus you might also see some inhabitants of the fungus). Mushroom is a fruitbody, you really won’t harm the organism. However, take care to examine mature (but not overmature) mushroom: only such will have necessary characteristics, besides, at least part of its spores will spread even from the damaged parts.

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I like this idea!

Most of the mushrooms I come across are solo which is why I don’t want to harm them. Thank you for your reply!

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If I have to pick a mushroom in order to photograph the relevant parts, after I am finished, I always put the cap gills down onto the soil, hoping that will enable the spores to fulfill their purpose.

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I understand not wanting to disturb fungi in public areas (so others can enjoy them too), but there is no need to worry about picking them in general. You do not harm the organism in any way by picking the fruiting bodies (think of it like picking an apple from a tree), and you may actually aid in spore dispersal by picking them! As some of the others here have pointed out, picking the entire mushroom/fruiting body can be very important if you want to get a solid identification.

Also, replanting fungi will not accomplish anything. You can leave them for other critters to eat though!

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If I pick a mushroom, I typically will scatter it/throw it to better aid in spore dispersal. I would think that leaving it face down on soil would limit this ability (as fungi often depend on wind/air currents for dispersal)?

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I use a small mirror; you can angle it as necessary, e.g. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/69449926

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Lots of great suggestions here. If you really still don’t want to pick the mushroom, I have previously turned the camera on my cellphone around to “selfie” mode so I can see what the picture looks like as I’m taking it. I’ve used that feature to peek into bird nests that are open top and above my head too.

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I use selfie mode when I can, sometimes the mushroom is just too dang short to get good lighting and focus. Thank you for your response!

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