With last weekend’s rains, mushrooms have sprouted up all over Raleigh yards, neighborhoods and parks. The above is a composite sketch of all the beautiful mushrooms I observed while on a hike at our local state park.

Did you know that mushrooms aren’t the actual “body” of the fungus? They’re the fungus’ reproductive structure. The real “body” — called the mycelium — grows through the soil or logs in bazillions of microscopic filaments.

Look carefully under the mushroom’s cap. There you’ll find gills loaded with spores — each spore, if it lands in a suitable place, is capable of producing a whole new fungus.

If you want to know how many spores each mushroom releases, or perhaps are curious about what species of mushroom you’ve found, put a mushroom cap (gill side facing down) on a piece of paper and let it dry. The spores will fall out and make a “spore print” — you’ll end up with a beautiful image that could also help you determine the identity of your found fungus.