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Amazon Shop for: Microscope

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Registered: 03/21/04
Posts: 7
Last seen: 12 years, 3 months
Positive ID with a Microscope
    #2459069 - 03/22/04 01:15 AM (13 years, 11 days ago)

I'm new to the mushroom community and I have been reading the forums the past few days. I noticed that it is always mentioned that the only way to positive ID a mushroom is with a microscope.
My question is if this is only possible with a very high powered microscope being used by an expert, or if it is possible to see definining traits with a microscope at home (up to 1000x).
If it is possible, are there any books or websites that have pictures of the different species under a microscope of this power?

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Registered: 02/13/04
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Re: Positive ID with a Microscope [Re: sublimished]
    #2459386 - 03/22/04 03:57 AM (13 years, 11 days ago)

If you can narrow it down to one species based on the macroscopic qualities of the mushroom, you can be pretty certain what a mushroom is.

Don't give me that load of bunk~!

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Registered: 06/28/03
Posts: 247
Loc: Australia
Re: Positive ID with a Microscope [Re: sublimished]
    #2459421 - 03/22/04 04:35 AM (13 years, 11 days ago)

teen's advice is great.

However, when macroscopic features are similar between differing specimens... which can often be the case the use a a scope would be wise, and yes 1000x is more the sufficient to see certain defining characteristics.

Depending on your location others may be able to suggest some books.... but any field guides (with keys) specific to you local area would be a good start....good luck.


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Re: Positive ID with a Microscope [Re: sublimished]
    #2459476 - 03/22/04 05:47 AM (13 years, 11 days ago)

The accuracy of an identification made without a microscope depends quite a bit on which mushrooms are being identified.

From Keys to Agarics and Boleti by Meinhard Moser:


Amateurs are often unprepared to identify fungi on the basis of anything other than macroscopic characteristics. This may be an attitude still prevailing from the time when the concept of the species was very much wider than it is today, when knowledge of fungal structure was not as extensive as modern research techniques have now made it. In view of these developments many amateurs are driven, on the other hand, to the false belief that while it was once possible to identify fungi macroscopically it is no longer possible to do so today. The fact of the matter is that it never was possible, that there was only the illusion (sincerely believed, certainly) of correct identification. The identifications were either inexact or actually completely wrong. The re-examination of old herbaria can be extremely surprising! For this reason older flora lists are usually more or less unusable. Certainly there are genera, a large proportion at least, of whose species can still be identified accurately with the help of macroscopic characteristics. Naturally, too, the main emphasis is laid on macroscopic characteristics in this book wherever this is reasonable. There are other genera, however, for which keys based on macroscopic characteristics would only lead to false identifications which would not stand up to close examination.

The sorts of things you need to see to verify an ID with a microscope sometimes only require 100x or 400x magnification, for example spore size and shape. When you need to verify spore ornamentation, you are likely to require 1000x and oil immersion.

Some genera are farily easy to identify mushrooms in. Others are really tough, even with a microscope.

There are a lot of common mushrooms that can be identified with good certainty without a microscope, including most of the better edible species. If you can find a mushroom guide (by a reasonably authoritative author) that tells you how to identify a species without resorting to using a microscope, then you're probably in luck.

Happy mushrooming!

Happy mushrooming!

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Registered: 03/21/04
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Re: Positive ID with a Microscope [Re: ToxicMan]
    #2461116 - 03/22/04 07:20 PM (13 years, 10 days ago)

Thanks for all the info :smile:

I guess it just depends on what kinds of books and guides I can find that will determine my method of identification

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Re: Positive ID with a Microscope [Re: sublimished]
    #2464941 - 03/23/04 08:54 PM (13 years, 9 days ago)

Great advice from the previous posters.

If you live on the west coast, Mushrooms demystified by David Aurora is excellent. It is also just a great general ID text for mushrooms throughout the USA.

After refrencing a Large general text good for general ID, then you might be able to find LOCAL guides specific to your area.

Absolute ID, requires all available resources, including microscopy for many species.

The reasons microscopy are required for some edible species is there may be posionous lookalikes.

If you are interested in Hallucinogenic mushrooms, Psilocybe Mushrooms of the World, by Paul Stametes is the most thorough refrence to date for macroscopic Identification. That book will keep you from making mistakes.

Keys based on macroscopic features are in Auroras book, for all the major genera of edible fungi.

Fungi perfecti offers a series of books on Identification. One of them is Identification to genus using microscopic features. THIS IS A MUST for using a microscope and determining what it is you are looking at. It is an all around GREAT TEXT for microscopy and fungi. A MUST READ if your are seriously interested in fungal microscopy, and IT IS INEXPENSIVE, and easy to read.

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