The Wild and Wondrous World of Psychedelic Fungi Continue to article

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Mushly. Edible, Medical, Psilocybin & Mushroom Info
Common Mushrooms that make the brain go What?!

By Mushly.

Published on 06 October 2022

A gentle reminder that there are many types of Fungi and that some have very different effects and compounds, as such one should take the utmost care and consideration when picking fungi with the purpose of consuming them. Please err on the side of caution and always get experts' advice. Mistakes can be fatal and should always be considered.


On top of this, gathering as well as preparing remains illegal for most of the world. As such, this article's information is purely for educational purposes. Mushly in no way recommends harvesting wild fungi.


However the study of these naturally occurring compounds is a wholly inspiring field, there are more than 200 species of fungi that have some degree of psychedelic effects. Of all these the PSilocybe genus is the most widely known and researched. Some other top contenders are P. Cubensis, P. Semilanceata, and. Baeocystis, which are discussed below.


Fungi feature a variety of active compounds which lead to their hallucinogenic effects, such as psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin, all indole alkaloids.


Research has primarily focused on psilocybin and it continues to be the most widely known, now with reports of it having advantageous effects on those living with depression, anxiety, addiction, and many others.

The psilocybin process in the body begins via a process known as dephosphorylation, which converts the psilocybin to psilocin. This allows it to bind to serotonin receptors which in turn allows it to produce its unique effects.


In 1957 Albert Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, first isolated psilocybin out of P. Mexicana mushrooms. Hofmann noted that the structure of p[silocybin is similar to that of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), which he had successfully synthesized from a separate psychedelic fungus, Claviceps, several years earlier.


The effects of psilocybin and LSD are similar, although differing greatly in potency. Such as an amplification of one's mood and senses, visual distortions, and alterations to one's regular thinking patterns.


Psilocybe Cubensis


These mushrooms are amongst the most common and widely known psychedelic fungi, with names such as cubes or gold caps, when people think of magic mushrooms, this is what they are thinking. These grow naturally around the world, they have a strong association with cows and cattle as they can often pop up in their dung, especially after a lightning storm. These mushrooms are also some of the simplest to grow indoors.


They feature reddish-brown caps when young which eventually stretch and lighten into their golden caps. They ultimately have purple to black gills, but start out with pale and grayish. They tend to have a spore print that is between brown and dark purple.


A notable and distinguishing feature of these mushrooms is that their flesh may bruise blue when handled. This is a common feature among those in the Psilocybe species.


Psilocybe Semilanceata


This species is also known as liberty caps. These mushrooms are usually found naturally growing in open grasslands, such as meadows, parks, and lawns, all across North America and Europe.


P. Semilanceata caps feature a cream to whitish-gray color and are shaped like a bell, with a nipple-like protrusion (umbo) at the top. These start out with quite light and cream-colored gills, but they darken as they age and release purple-brown spores, all supported by long, slender stalks.


Psilocybe Baeocystis


This variety has many different names such as bottle caps, olive caps, bluebells, and knobby tops. While less common than their cousins P. cubensis and P. Semilanceata, they do also grow on the East Coast of the United States.


These fungi feature dark olive to buff-brown caps, however, may sometimes be metallic blue. These change quite significantly as they age and are damaged and may turn blue to a greenish-blue. Their gills are grayish to light brown and produce a dark purplish-brown spore print.


Even more Magic Mushrooms


In addition to these fungi of the psilocybe species, there are others that also contain psilocybin. These include the following:


  • Agrocybe
  • Conocybe
  • Coplandia
  • Gymnopilus
  • Hypholoma
  • Inocybe
  • Panaeolus
  • Pluteus
  • Psathyrella
  • Stropharia


It is worthwhile to note that not all of the mushrooms in this genera are Hallucinogenic in effect. Also important to note that many of these may contain such low levels of psychedelic compounds that one is more likely to get sick than have an enjoyable experience.


Many of these can also be very difficult to identify, potentially even being confused with dangerous species. An example would be the laughing gyms, Gymn opilus junonius, which are quite common. These have yellow caps, appear large, and tend to grow clustered on tree stumps and logs. Which is, unfortunately, all too similar to a deadly Galerina species, even having similar rusty-colored spore prints.


Amanita Muscaria


The fly agaric mushroom, most commonly known as Amanita Muscaria, is one that is rather difficult to not recognize. Featuring a red and white spotted cape it really is the quaintest and most fairy-tale inspire toadstool. This fungi is rich with mythology and is a crucial part of Eastern European shamanic traditions.


The fly agaric mushroom is quite different in its actions, as it doesn’t contain psilocybin, but rather the compounds ibotenic acid and muscimol, whose main effects are on the central nervous system.


The ibotenic acid causes a similar excitatory effect to the neurotransmitter glutamate. While this produces hallucinations it may also lead to seizures and severe agitation. This in turn has led to most experienced users ensuring they dry their amanita muscaria very thoroughly in order to convert the ibotenic acid into muscimol via a process known as decarboxylation.


The compound muscimol acts similarly to the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It has been likened to being drunk as it depresses the central nervous system which results in quite a heavy feeling of sedation. It is also hypothesized to help with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, due to its neuroprotective properties.


While easy to identify, some of its relatives are among the most deadly fungi in all of the kingdom. These include Amanita phalloides, death caps, which contain high levels of compounds called amatoxins.


These cause severe gastrointestinal distress which may lead to liver failure. They have a high mortality rate and should be best appreciated rather than taken home to prepare. 


The Magical Summary of these Mushrooms


Some species of fungi are well known, while others are all, mostly, unheard of, and there are still many more species of magic mushrooms.


The most common remains the psilocybe species, which are also the more hallucinogenic as they contain relatively high concentrations of psilocybin. Other magical fungi are less favorable due to their relatively low concentration of psychoactive compounds, and as such are less preferred, taking into account the safety of identifying and ensuring one has the correct mushroom.


On the note of identification, the amanita muscaria is easier to identify, but given its unique makeup and effect, it is mostly passed over as an option, largely to avoid unpleasant effects. Correct preparation is vital with this mushroom, and identification is crucial to avoid a death cap experience.


With these challenges in mind, one would be recommended to stick to magic mushrooms that are safely and professionally harvested and prepared. With a reminder to only consume in safe and supportive settings, both immediately and in the future, as well as locations in which it is legal to do so. Remember to also prepare yourself to positively consolidate the experience.

Disclaimer: This article is written purely for educational reasons. Mushly in no way suggests the use, sale, or ownership of any illicit substances. Furthermore, take the time to be aware of the legislature and what that means for you, as decided by the governing body of the country and city you live in.