The Mesoamaericans called them teonanácatl or Flesh of the Gods and for a good reason: eating Psilocybe mushrooms was a way to connect with the divinity and the world around them.
Nowadays, science has somewhat demythologized the process through which psychedelic mushrooms work their magic, but mankind still retains its fascination with potent fungi like the ones below.
Psilocybe cubensis might be the most prominent member of the shroom family, but the Copelandia cyanescens is next in line. Despite the fact that it is colloquially known as the Hawaiian mushroom, this white-capped entheogen was first discovered in Samoa, where people boil them and mix the resulting juice with coffee. This variety contains the tryptamine alkaloids psilocybin and psilocyn.
Small and with a long, narrow stem, C. Cyanescens is a coprophiliac (it grows in dung) and turns a deep blue when bruised.
This species was first described in 1918 by American mycologist G.F. Atkinson. A saprotrophic organism, it feeds on decaying matter and curiously, the brazen little thing likes growing in well-manicured areas such as parks and lawns. Its habitat comprises grassy, temperate areas of Europe, North America and Asia. In the United States, it was reportedly found in New York, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Michigan.
It has a smooth, broad cap the color of cinnamon and a fragile, whitish stem. Like other grassland psilocybin mushrooms, this species can form sclerotia, a compact mass of dormant mycellium that helps the organism survive wildfires. P. cyanopus contains psilocin, psilocybin, baeocystin and norbaeocystin, in percentages enough to achieve a cosmic trip. Exercise caution, though; most mycologists warn against consuming this mushroom since it is very easy to confuse with poisonous species.
Very little is known about this very rare species. The only time it was seen was in 1993, in the Regensburg botanic gardens in Germany. Since the greenhouse where it was found contained tropical species, German mycologist H. Besl assumed it also had a tropical provenance. The brownish mushroom bruises blue and tests showed it contained psilocybin, psilocin and small amounts of baeocystin. Should you happen to chance upon it, however unlikely, please remember this is still a member of the Galerina family, most of which are poisonous.
First discovered in the Northeastern United States, P. silvatica can now be found in the Pacific Northwest. It usually turns up along forest trails, growing in clusters in coniferous woods. Connoisseurs recognize it by its dark olive brown cap with protruding, straight edges and by its rusty brown gills.
Because of P. silvatica’s dark color, it is difficult to observe the bluing of its flesh. Its main active compound is psilocybin.
Rarely reaching a few centimeters in diameter, M. cyanorrhiza mushrooms leave behind a distinctive, white spore print. They usually grow in sub-alpine regions on wood debris and stain blue due to the presence of psilocybin. Not overwhelmingly potent, these mushrooms still make a prized addition to any mycologist’s knapsack, due to their delicate, pallid appearance.
This mushroom enjoys a wide distribution in the temperate zones of central Europe and western North America. In order to thrive, it needs to develop a symbiotic relationship (called mycorrhiza) with the roots of poplar, oak and willow trees.
Usually smaller than 2 inches across, the cap of this mushroom varies in color from dark to light yellow brown and sometimes exhibits greenish stains. In 1982, there were 23 accidental intoxications with I. aeruginascens, due to it looking similar to the edible, non-hallucinogenic fairy ring champignon. None were deadly but the symptoms of all patients included hallucinations. These intoxications determined mycologists to perform a chemical analysis that showed the presence of psilocybin. Furthermore, tests showed it contained a new tryptamine that was christenedaeruginascin. Exclusively found in this species of mushrooms, aeruginascin is weirdly similar to bufotenidine, a toxin found in the venom of toads.
Closely related to Psilocybe mexicana, the fungus that started the recent magic mushroom craze, P. atlantis is a truly rare treat with a pleasant smell and taste. Although its name seems to suggest so, this mushroom doesn’t originate from the mythical sunken continent but from… Georgia.
Found in the wild in only a handful of instances, this variety has been since grown in controlled environments by truffle farmers in search of potent sclerotia. Rich in psilocybin and psilocin, the Atlantis is said to induce an above-average trip, characterized by strong visuals, distorted sound perception and the unmistakable feeling of being connected with everything.
Mushrooms are amazing organisms and mycology is an awesome hobby, but only if you know exactly what you’re doing. Many species of poisonous mushrooms can easily be mistaken as non-toxic by the unprepared. Also, keep informed on your country’s laws on possession and consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Be civil and stay safe!
Article originally published on EWAO