By Vera Evenson, Curator
RosaLee Brace, Volunteer

Some suggestions for collecting mushrooms for further study and identification from the Herbarium of Fungi at the Denver Botanic Gardens. When you find a mushroom that you want to show to an expert for identification (and possibly have it preserved for further study), here are some reminders:

Collect only fresh, moist, whole specimens. Unless you believe it to be very rare or unusual, do not bring in a “singleton”. Try to get buttons along with other young to mature individuals. Use good collecting techniques, getting base of stipes. Brush dirt off lightly and make sure too much dirt doesnʼt damage the specimen. Include a few notes. On a small piece of paper to include with the specimen, record habitat, putting sprig or leaf of host plant or tree in with the specimen as a reminder. If the mushrooms are small and in moss or other bryophytes, leave that plant material around the specimen to help keep it moist. If possible, write down obvious features that might disappear, such as veil attachment, colors, odor, or taste. Make a note where you found the mushroom. Put specimen in a container using a firm container for small, delicate specimens and waxed paper for larger ones. Keep each collection separate from other kinds. Place it in a firm container such as a cottage cheese box or other small, lidded box (if the mushrooms are small). We find compartmented boxes used by fly fishermen excellent. Place a piece of damp paper towel in the bottom to keep the specimens moist. Desiccated specimens are hard to identify. Make a spore print for assessment of spore color to help with identification. Slip a piece of white paper under the gills. By the time you get home, you may have a usable print if you arrange the paper just below the gills. RosaLee uses the shiny side of freezer paper!


  • Do NOT freeze or wash or put specimens in water.
  • Do NOT leave specimens in a hot car. Refrigerate or put in cooler.
  • Do NOT collect specimens in plastic bags. They sweat!
  • If you give a properly collected specimen to an expert (or bring it in to the Fair in August), your specimen may be preserved “in perpetuity” for science! We at the Herbarium are always grateful for your contributions.

You may bring us a new Colorado record, or a new species! We have hundreds of great specimens (and some very rare ones) donated by members of CMS. Come see them!