Psilocybe cubensis

Psilocybe, being a frequently hunted mushroom, should be identified carefully. It could easily be confused with Galerina, which can be fatal if eaten. However, Galerina has brown spores. It could also be confused with the black-spored Panaeolus and possibly brown-spored Inocybe, Pholiota, Hebeloma, Agrocybe, or Conocybe. So be sure to check spore colour. Four other genera have purplish spores. Of these, Agaricus has free gills, and Naematoloma is brightly coloured and has chrysocystidia. Stropharia can usually be separated by the presence of a glutinous annulus, very large spores, and frequently viscid stem. Psathyrella has a cellular cuticle.

One other mushroom, a species of Omphalina has been recently reported as poisonous by people mistakenly eating it for Psilocybe. It has white spores, decurrent gills, an orange trumpet-shaped cap, and grows in pastures.

Psilocybe is Greek for naked head.

The only death attributed to a hallucinogenic Psilocybe was a child in Washington who ate P. baeocystis. Recent observations on special sensitivity in children are discussed on page 107.

Since many people have recently been seeking these mushrooms for the same purpose, we recommend the following procedure after the mushroom is properly identified:

1. Carefully graduate your dose day by day, beginning with one mushroom, then progressing to three, and then to ten.

2. Eat them on an empty stomach, since a full stomach tends to dilute the effects.

3. Eat them either fresh in the field or in an omelet, and spend the rest of the day out of doors. Nature's sensory inputs are superior to humanity's artificial environment.

Excerpt from Richard and Karen Haard's Poisonous and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms, (1977, pp.76 & 78).

Description: Large, fleshy, yellowish cap with brown gills and a persistent ring on stalk; bruising blue; on cow manure.

Cap:1.5 - 9 cm wide; conical or bell-shaped, becoming convex to flat with central knob; sticky, hairless; white with brownish -yellow center, becoming entirely brownish-yellow, bruising and aging bluish.

Gills: attached, close, narrow; gray, becoming deep violet-gray, then black; edges whitish.

Stalk: 3.5-15 cm long, 0.3 - 1.5 cm thick, becoming enlarged below; smooth, grooved at top; white bruising blue.

Veil: partial veil membranous; leaving persistent white ring (soon blackish from falling spores) on upper stalk.

Spores: 11.5 17 X 8-11.5 m; oval to elliptical, smooth, thick-walled, blunt, with distinct pore at tip. Spore print purple-brown.

Edibility: Hallucinogenic

Season: Nearly year-round

Habitat On cow and horse dung in pastures

Range: Gulf coast

Comments: This is an abundant member of the Gulf Coast pastureland flora.

"Common Large Psilocybe" image and excerpt from Gary H. Lincoff's National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms, (1981, 2004, p. 721).

Other image from Richard and Karen Haard's Poisonous and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms, (1977, Colour Plate 26).

To learn more about magic mushrooms, see:

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Common Large Psilocybe (Psilocybe cubensis).jpg
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