New Species of Psychedelic Lichen Contains Tryptamine and Psilocybin

A newly discovered species of lichen from the rain forests of Ecuador proves that you don’t have to be a magic mushroom to contain psilocybin. It is the first and only lichen known to incorporate these substances.

Ask any biologist and he’ll tell you lichens are an intriguing bunch. They exist only because of a symbiotic relationship between algae (or cyanobacteria) and fungi. The fungus creates a network that sustains, hydrates and protects the alga, which in turn provides sugars through photosynthesis. So, while they exhibit plant-like characteristics, they are not plants. They are composite organisms. This makes the case of the psychedelic lichen even more interesting.

According to a scientific paper published in The Bryologist, the recently classified lichen exhibitspresumed hallucinogenic properties. The scientific method requires that researchers be thorough and only state things that were rigorously tested. That is why they included the word presumed. The elusive lichen is decidedly psychedelic, as evidenced by reports from the tribe who knew about its existence, but since researchers weren’t permitted to use pure reference compounds, they were unable to positively determine the presence of hallucinogenic substances.


The story behind the discovery of this trippy organism is about as compelling as they get. In 1981, ethnobotanists Jim Yost and Wade Davis were out doing field work in the dense Ecuadorian rainforests when a tribe called the Waorani pointed them in the right direction. Yost had heard of the existence of a hallucinogenic lichen but it was so rare he had never had a chance to encounter one, despite having searched for it for seven years. In a 1983 paper that detailed their discovery, the ethnobotanists wrote:

“In the spring of 1981, whilst we were engaged in ethnobotanical studies in eastern Ecuador, our attention was drawn to a most peculiar use of hallucinogens by the Waorani, a small isolated group of some 600 Indians. … Amongst most Amazonian tribes, hallucinogenic intoxication is considered to be a collective journey into the subconscious and, as such, is a quintessentially social event.

The Waorani, however, consider the use of hallucinogens to be an aggressive anti-social act; so the shaman, or ido, who desires to project a curse takes the drug alone or accompanied only by his wife at night in the secrecy of the forest or in an isolated house. …”

The lichen was so rare that not even the Waorani people had any. And if the small tribe that maintains a strong connection with the surrounding environment isn’t holding, you know the thing is rare. In fact, it doesn’t get any rarer than that. The Waorani called it nɇnɇndapɇ and told the botanists their shamans once used it, but the last time that happened was  “some four generations ago — approximately eighty years — when ‘bad shaman ate it to send a curse to cause other Waorani to die.’”

Waorani Hunters, Ecuador 2012

Waorani hunters

Spurred on by the lichen’s scarcity, the duo intensified their efforts and soon got their payoff. As if guided by an invisible hand, Yost and Davis became the first westerners to lay their eyes on the nigh intangible nɇnɇndapɇ. Being responsible investigators, they preserved the unique specimen for future analysis.

It would be another three decades before the lichen’s DNA was analyzed, showing that it was indeed a new species. In 2014, a team of researchers led by Michaela Schmull christened the lichen Dictyonema huaorani and used a technique called liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to determine the chemical compounds existent in its tissue. Tests showed the presence of psilocybin, tryptamine, 5-MeO-DMT, 5-MeOT (5-methoxytryptamine), 5-MeO-NMT and 5-MT.

This composition makes D. huaorani a very interesting specimen, in the sense that this specific cocktail of substances has never been found before in any plant, fungus or animal. However, the researchers concluded that:

“Due to our inability to use pure reference compounds and scarce amount of sample for compound identification, however, our analyses were not able to determine conclusively the presence of hallucinogenic substances.”

So it seems further research into potentially beneficial species is once again halted by willfully misguided legislation. This trend has been going on for far too long but voices are starting to get louder and louder. The benefits cannot be ignored for much longer, we hope.


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  • NagyfaszuZsolti
    September 29, 2016 at 3:37 am

    I’d love to eat some of that lichen alone at night in silent darkness

  • Nathan Clark
    September 29, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Yeah, it’s so rare supposed delusionally “eco-conscious” tripsters all want to try it and make it extinct due to their selfishly myopic perspective.

    Also, we have the government that we collectively allow to exist. Don’t like it? Get up and do something about it. The general laziness, apathy, and lack of responsibility of stoners is why we have had to deal with a lack of freedom in these areas for so long. People forget (or more likely don’t realize) that while these compounds can be very beneficial for rerouting habitual thought and reactionary processes in the brain, they can be just as effective at reinforcing delusional ideology that most stoners on fanatically fixated on. This why I am so thankful that I finally came to my senses and am working on growing up after being an delusional idiot for over half of my life. I have almost finished my bachelor’s in chemistry and plan to pursue a PhD program in neurochemistry and focus on psychedelic research, in particular, areas of neuroplasticity and how this can also influence genetic expression, especially in response to stress reduction from improve reactionary responses and how a person improves the way they relate to stress as a result of intentional psychedelic use.

    • fredtaylor
      October 1, 2016 at 3:46 am

      Thank you sir for being lucid. We have known about these medicines forever, we are responsible.Indigenous.

      • Christopher Galvin
        October 2, 2016 at 1:57 am

        ?? I was told I must post two characters? Happy Trails to the both of you.

    • Schmo Schumacher
      October 1, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Classic projecting.

      • kjj
        October 2, 2016 at 10:05 pm

        i agree he might be projecting but i also think he might be right. i wasn’t a stoner but was very lazy and a stupid teenager. Growing means taking responsibility for youre actions when you’re late for work or when you make choices. Drugs have helped me immensely but in other (fewer) times affected me negatively. Responsible and smart druguse are paramount. Drugs are like a bonus in our lives and to waste the bonus would be stupid i think is whats he’s saying. Be productive, be smart and be efficient. listen to youre heart because it knows.

        • Mary Jane Plants
          October 4, 2016 at 2:18 am

          still he was bragging about his decisions like the life he had before was shit… sorry but in my oppinion he didnt learn from his mistakes he just changed the way his ego gets feeded. Before he fed it with drugs.. Now with knowledge, for bragging not for living what he learnd. sorry for my bad interpretation of it but english aint my first language.. the only reason why he changed was the vision other people had from him (i call them profile slaves= those guys who earn as much as a fellow slave(conspiracy theoristlol) but is to stupid to realise that he is being used more than others and has to feel better by telling everybody he gets more used!!!!! pathetic…) So infact he only changed because those mindless illuminati drones who you would lovely call parents or authority told him too… What a wuss, ego controlled still death.. at least i know what i am fighting against. He appreciates what his ego tells him = worst slave of them all

    • bob
      October 2, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      Stop, it does not make someone an idiot nor does it mean that they do not have goals. Often times the people who are doing that are lazy outside of it. Let me invite you back down to earth with the rest of us here you are no staple of what people should be doing in life, every person is free to make the choices they choose. I do shit like this on a regular basis and i work in Offsec (google it) and make more money in a month than you will in years so to simply put it, you are still a delusional idiot. And you give the name Nathan a bad rep with an attitude like that.

      • Mary Jane Plants
        October 4, 2016 at 2:22 am

        dont bother… he is a mindless drone. Thats why he tries to stealth it with how good he is now. He is not talking to real people. Only other drones.

    • Biggus Disqus
      October 2, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Here’s to hoping that we can all some day be as, like, awesome as you!

    • Deplorable AF
      October 3, 2016 at 11:00 am

      The purpose of the plant is to find a way back to itself; ourselves. The intention in your thought processes are hostile. Is it because you feel the need to be a protector? How did you become so enamored with the science of these things? I feel there are likely to hundreds if not thousands of undiscovered flora and fauna which will contain these styles of nitrogenous organic compounds.

      There’s only one answer, and the answer is rejected by your ego. Stay calm because mother nature has this all under control. She will always make sure that whatever the form of life yields the ability for self reflection will eventually evolve into a form with enough intellect to find use in these compounds and find a way back to itself. There, that should be a huge weight off your shoulders.

    • Mary Jane Plants
      October 4, 2016 at 2:08 am

      good for you, bragging about how you changed your life seems very mature, the only thing you forget you are a slave to the system more than ever… you done well brother, sorry ex brother now profile slave with a little bit more illuminati indoctrinated knowledge.

  • MentalKenny
    September 30, 2016 at 9:16 am

    I love psychedelics and have had experiences with Ayahuasca, however, we trippers must take responsibility, those plants are rare and renewed interest from Westeners could see them go extint, that’s one reason why I’m sticking with Ald-52 and 1p-lsd for the time being.

    • no_id
      October 1, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      And eth-lad 🙂

    • Christopher Galvin
      October 2, 2016 at 2:01 am

      I trip mostly in my dreams these days. Waking up however is becoming old and boring. Maybe that is a sign to Trip again?

  • gary lopez-watts
    October 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    please, allow the researchers to ingest these organisms. psychedelics exist in order to introduce us to the wonderful world of psychoactive substances, which help us to avoid the inevitable stultification of life that will occur alongside proper evolution.