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Spore prints should be obtained from woody polypores before they are dried, stored or treated to kill insects. If the polypore specimen appears very dry after collecting store it in damp newspaper overnight in a cool place and then place a piece of the fresh hymenium pore side downwards over a glass slide inside a closed plastic container. The specimen should be set so that the tubes are vertical, as they are in nature, otherwise the spores cannot escape. One way of achieving this is to insert pins to varying depth in the underside of the specimen and use these as ‘adjustable legs’ to level it properly. It may help if a small piece of wet tissue is placed in the container to maintain the humidity that is essential if spores are to drop.

Field books

Mycologists have personal methods of treating field notes when they return to the workroom or laboratory. Some maintain a Field Book. This may be used for entering hand-written lists of species found at a given site, with spaces left for names of unknowns to be added later, after identification. Others use the Field Book for sketches and detailed macro and micro descriptions of unknown species, working towards a tentative or a confirmed identification with a note of references to relevant literature. Some mycologists, possibly the majority, accumulate loose sheets of paper with sketches, notes, spore measurements, which they may later clip to, or file with, their lists of foray finds. The method used is immaterial, but some system should always be employed so that information on doubtful or rare records can, if required, be retrieved and sent to a specialist for checking. The discipline of taking detailed notes also aids identification as observation will be more thorough and key features will not be overlooked or forgotten.

Difficult species are often identified days, or even months, after being collected, so good field notes are essential. It goes without saying that the notes should be kept in a safe place, not just discarded after the specimen has been named. It may be that some records will cause a raised eyebrow. There are many common species that most recorders will accept without back- up notes, particularly if they could be expected in the specific habitat where recorded. If, however, an unnamed, or a named but new or very uncommon species is found a ‘referee’ is likely to ask for a fresh or dried specimen with accompanying field notes. A small sketch or coloured illustration or a photograph will then be very helpful. Failing such evidence, the record may be rejected (or reduced to genus name only), particularly if it is a species rare in Britain, or one that is considered to be very unlikely with the stated associated organism or substrate, or to be found in a particular locality or ecosystem. Aim to acquire the reputation of being a careful identifier. If there is any doubt at all about the identity of a fungus, signal the fact. Better still, attempt to have it confirmed by a more experienced person. This will provide a higher quality and more useful record.

Anyone reading this Guide as a novice identifier/recorder should ensure that records are confirmed by an accomplished mycologist. If trying, with varying degrees of success, to identify mushrooms and toadstools from a Field Guide obtained in a local bookshop, contact your nearest Fungus Recording Group (See the list in Appendix 8). They will be pleased to have your records, and you will get help and encouragement in your study of fungi.

Index cards

This was the time-honoured way of keeping records and can be perfectly satisfactory. One could opt for having one record, or several, per card. If opting for the one record per card, then a small card, of size 5 × 3 inches, or the metric equivalent, and ruled feint, will be quite sufficient. With the name of the fungus in the top left hand corner, the genus, group, type or order can be entered

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