A Brief Guide to the Different Varieties of Psilocybe Mushrooms (Magic Mushroom)
Psilocybe mushrooms, Shrooms, the blue mushroom, or, as they are most commonly known, Magic Mushrooms, whatever you call them they are an incredible fungi and offer a beautiful experience for those that consume them. This is due to the magical compounds found within and the general psychedelic properties they bring.
But something you may not know about Magic Mushrooms is that there are nearly 190 different species growing around the world all containing psilocybin, the compound that creates the euphoric feelings those consuming them are looking for. That’s not to mention the dozens of different strains available for each species, each with their own shape, size, and flavor as well as their own special trip.
In this article we are going to break down some of the more popular Psilocybe varieties and discuss what makes each one special. Let’s start with a comparison of the potency of the various species covered in this guide:
Comparison of different Magic Mushrooms and their potency:
|Mushroom Name||Potency (Given in the level of psilocybin in the mushroom)|
|psilocybe cyanescens||0.3% to 1.68|
Strains of Psilocybe cubensis are the most commonly consumed Magic Mushroom in the world. The popularity is driven by the ease at which they can be cultivated and the fact that they can be grown in-doors with very little effort or skill using a mushroom grow kit or pre-sterilized mushroom substrate.
Cubensis shrooms can be found growing in the wild all across the world in the Southern US, Central America, and Mexico, but the cultivated in-door grown varieties typically have a far higher psilocybin content for a more potent and longer lasting high. That’s why the majority of dried mushrooms you pick up on the market are often stronger than the ones you would find in nature because they’ve been bred specifically for strength.
When found in the wild, cubensis often grow in dung and prefer to live in well-manured soil. Growth is normally at its highest during the spring and summer, but you will still find them popping up in the later Autumnal months too.
Cubensis mushrooms are the most majestic of Psilocybes and are easy to recognize due to their golden colour and large size. Once handled they may display a blueish tint as the psilocin oxidizes. Cubensis caps are generally bigger than other Psilocybe species and will widen as the mushroom matures with age.
When dried the Cubensis will give a moderate high in doses up to 3 grams, with higher amounts leading to more intense experiences.
Psilocybe semilanceata (aka Liberty Caps)
Psilocybe semilanceata, also commonly known as Liberty Caps, is one of the most widespread naturally growing magic mushroom varieties in the world. On top of this, they are also considered the third most potent with 0.98% psilocybin contained within their stalks and caps.
This variety of magic mushroom was first identified in 1838 and became the first psilocybin containing mushroom native to European soil to be formally recognized for its psychoactive properties.
Semilanceata is still a wildly popular magic mushroom today due to its abundance and is especially common in England where the first stories of families ‘tripping out’ where reported in print in 1799.
Liberty caps are often called Witch’s Hats due to their unusual pointy shaped, conical crown, and they grow wild across most of the Northern Hemisphere, including Germany, France, Italy, Bulgaria, Iceland, Finland, Russia, and Turkey. They can also be found in North America on the West Coast from California all the way up to British Columbia during the Autumn or early winter months, and in lesser proportions on the East Coast from Newfoundland to the cold wilds of Nova Scotia in Canada. Some varieties are also known to grown in small quantities in South America and New Zealand in more temperate climes.
The preferred growing spot of Liberty Caps is in rich, acidic soil that has been heavily fertilized by cow manure or sheep dung. As such, Semilanceata is often found growing in meadows, grasslands, pastures, and sometimes even on or around lawns.
Liberty caps are one of the smallest varieties of magic mushroom and are easily overlooked as they can blend into the foliage and grass cover. They are 40mm to 100mm in stem size (that’s 1.5 inches to 4 inches long) and have a bell-shaped or conical cap (hence the Witches Hat resemblance). Taste wise most consumers report that they resemble flour and are starchy.
Unfortunately, Semilanceata is difficult to cultivate indoors so is usually only consumed when found outside. You do have to be careful when picking this variety of shroom though, as they bear a striking resemblance to quite a few poisonous mushroom species that grow in similar conditions.
When consumed Liberty Caps will give a slightly stronger high than Cubensis with doses up to 2.5 grams recommended for a standard high.
Psilocybe azurescens (aka Flying Saucer Mushrooms)
The Psilocybe azurescens species of magic mushrooms is also known by a variety of other names including Flying Saucers, Blue Angels, Blue Runners, or Azzies. It is the strongest psilocybin containing mushroom growing in the wild today and, if the story’s true, are reported to have first been found and consumed by a Boy Scout troupe on an Oregon camping trip in 1979.
Azurescens are a rare breed of magic mushroom and are generally only found on the West coast of the U.S. from Southern California to Northern Washington, with most clustering on or near the Columbia River delta in Oregon. The reason for their sparsity is that they prefer to grow in soils that are sandy in composition and will clump together in or around dunes or sea grasses and are often to be found on rotting or decaying wood.
They don’t mind the cold either and unlike other psilocybin mushrooms can withstand temperatures between 16° C to 24° C (that’s 60° F – 75° F folks). It is this hardiness that allows Azzies to be easily grown and cultivated by growers outside for their own consumption. Psilocybe Azurescens require a wood and lignin based material to grow on unlike Psilocybe Cubensis which need manure based grow material.
Taste wise, azurescens is not blessed and is often described as incredibly bitter on the tongue. But the good news is that they have some of the highest levels of psilocybin (an incredible 1.78 percent) in the Magic Mushroom family. This makes them three times more powerful than cubensis and just one gram of Azzies is often enough to experience an intense high due to the high level of psychoactive compounds. Best to take this species of Psilocybe in moderation.
Shape wise the azurescens is not nicknamed the flying saucer for nothing and its largish cap is unique in its UFO shape and can grow up to 100mm in diameter. They are light to dark brown in colour and may begin to show dark blue or black pitted marks as they age.
Psilocybe cyanescens (aka Wavy Caps)
Psilocybe cyanescens are often called the Wavy Cap due to the rippled, wavy shape of its cap. They were first found and identified for their psychoactive properties in England in 1946.
They are probably the most widespread psilocybin-containing mushrooms growing wild in the world and are native to most of the Pacific Northwest and Central Europe. Their common nature is down to the decaying wood environment they prefer to habitat. Anywhere that wood is rotting or mulching they will grow, that includes gardens, trails, parks, and places containing woodchip.
Despite the ease at which they populate outdoors, they are tough to grow indoors as the conditions needed are difficult to simulate.
If you do manage to get your hands on some Wavy Caps, then you are looking at a low to intense high with anywhere between 0.3 percent to 1.68 percent psilocybin. They are also one of the few Magic Mushroom varieties that are stronger when eaten fresh than dried.
Panaeolus cyanescens (aka Blue Meanies)
Panaeolus cyanescens, sometimes referred to as Blue Meanies, are the first species of mushroom in our list that isn’t part of the Psilocybe genus, and instead belongs to the Panaeolus species. That doesn’t make them any less potent and they are in fact one of the strongest psilocybin containing shrooms in the world.
Cyanescens grow mainly in dung and manure on pastures and fields. They prefer warmer, subtropical climates and as such are most common in places like Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi in the US, and the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Mexico, South America, Australia, Africa, Thailand, Japan, New Zealand, and some parts of Southern Europe (France and Spain primarily).
Young Blue Meanies start out light brown before fading to an off-white or grey color by maturity. They may also have yellowish or brownish tones and develop cracks during dry weather. When damaged they will turn a blue color, hence the Blue Meanie nickname.
Taste wise they are again considered starchy or flour like and the psilocybin level is enough to give a moderate high when 2.5grams of dried mushrooms is consumed.
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