Let’s start with the facts: Magic Mushrooms are illegal and have been since 2005 they are deemed as class A drugs. They bring to mind the rave and house scenes of the 1990’s and are generally looked on with disdain and suspicion.
However magic mushrooms have been used for more than 10,000 years in various spiritual and medical rituals for their ability to alter consciousness and trigger mystical experiences.
Identify Liberty caps: The most common magic mushroom is Psilocybe semilanceata or the liberty cap and it is commonly found in pastures or verges.
The cap of the mushroom will change colour depending on how much moisture it retains. In wet conditions the colour will be yellowish-brown. It has a glutinous layer which can be removed. When dry out the colour fades from the mushroom. The conical cap remains a similar shape throughout these changes. It has striated markings with a distinctive small nipple at the very top The thin stem can grow up to 7 or 8cm. The gills are pale creamy-grey at first, but as the mushroom matures they become a dark purple-brown.
The effects The psychoactive ingredient of these mushrooms is called Psilocybin and is also found in a number of different species of fungi. This ingredient is what causes the hallucinations and occasionally causes alarming symptoms including vomiting, stomach pains and anxiety attacks, Liberty Caps are probably best treated with caution.It takes .2 to .5 grams of dried magic mushrooms to begin to feel the effects of the psilocybin. Height, weight and metabolism affect
How a person may feel when ingesting magic mushrooms.
Euphoria and feelings of unity with everything around them
Exceedingly peaceful mentality
Spiritual awakening and transcendence
Rapid mood changes or swings
A growing feeling of detachment to the current reality, or feeling as if it is not fully real, also known as derealization
Feeling a sense of connection, but disengagement, from the objects and people that surround the user, this is also known as depersonalization
Distorted or irregular thought patterns
Distorted, altered, or enhanced visualizations, such as extremely vivid colors, and halos of light around people or things
Negative effects: Alongside potential addiction and drastic changes in behaviour there are some physical effects of magic mushrooms that can be dangerous.
It can make you feel:
They can cause extreme stomach pain and diarrhea, they raise your blood pressure and heart rate and can potentially cause seizures in individuals.
Positive effects: There is currently a lot of research being done into the positive effects of magic mushrooms and psychedelics on mental health and illnesses like depression. The psilocybin seems to “re-order” the way our brain approaches problems and allows people to get to the root cause of the problem and then help to reduce the symptoms of depression. In a recent study at Imperial college London. 59 people took part in a trial comparing magic mushrooms to conventional antidepressants and they found that those taking the magic mushrooms were significantly more affected than those who took the “conventional” antidepressants. In that their mood increased and they were more able to deal with the root causes of their issues ( during these trials the participants were given therapy alongside the compounds being tested)
Nevertheless great care needs to be taken with this mushroom as it is still illegal to pick and possess them as well as their potentially dangerous side effects on your body. There is a great deal of research left to be done into them, for example their long term effects and whether there is any toxicity built up over time. For further research I would look to the internet and to official studies over the coming years to see what should be done with the legality and availability but for now as i mentioned at the beginning Magic mushrooms are illegal.
Pileus (cap): 0.5-2.5 cm broad. Conic to obtusely conic to conic-campanulate with an acute umbo. Margin translucent-striate, incurved and sometimes undulated in young fruiting bodies, often darkened by spores. Surface smooth, color variable, extremely hygrophanous. Usually dark chestnut brown when moist, soon drying to a light tan or yellow, occasionally with an olive tint, margin sometimes with bluish or olive stains. Surface viscid when moist from a separable gelatinous pellicle.
Lamellae (Gills): Attachment mostly adnexed, sometimes adnate or seceding. Close to crowded, narrow. Color pallid at first, rapidly becoming grey, then brownish and finally purplish brown with the edges remaining pallid.
Stipe (stem): 30-100 mm long by 0.75-3 mm thick. Slender, equal, flexuous (curved or sinuous), and pliant. Pallid to more brownish towards the base, where the attached mycelium may become bluish tinged, especially during drying. Surface smooth overall. Context stuffed with a fibrious pith. Partial veil thinly cortinate, rapidly deteriorating, leaving an obscure evanescent annular zone of fibrils, usually darkened by spores. Often this zone is entirely absent.
Microscopic features: Spores, Dark purplish brown in deposit, ellipsoid, 11-14 by 7-9 microns. Basidia 4-spored. Pleurocystidia few to absent. Cheilocystidia 18-35 by 4.5-8 microns, lageniform with an extended and flexuous neck, often forked.
Season: From when the fall rains begin until the first freezes. Liberty caps like cool temperatures, around 50 degrees Farenheit and lots of rain.
Habitat and Distribution: Psilocybe semilanceata grows in north temperate areas but it has been found in Peru, Pune, India, Australia, New Zealand and also at altitudes of 4000 meters in Italy. Grows In fields where cattle graze, they will be in the larger greener clumps of grass, or in parks and golf courses.They like the water that the plants funnel down to the base of the plant and tend to hide there.
Growth Habit: Growing singularly or in troops.
Bruising: Bruising will appear at the base and on primordial aborts attached to mature specimens.
Other Notes: Likely the most popular magic mushroom in the world.
Similar Species: Section Semilanceatae:
Psilocybe strictipes: Psilocybe strictipes is a psilocybin mushroom which grows on grassy meadows and lawns; It is found throughout the cool temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and it is most common in Europe, and the Pacific Northwest. It is closely related to Psilocybe semilanceata and Psilocybe pelliculosa. Psilocybe strictipes is commonly confused with Psilocybe semilanceata and can be differentiated by its lack of a papilla and a convex to subumbonate cap. “Strictipes” comes from the Latin words stricti (narrow) and pes (foot). The Cap Psilocybe strictipes cap is 5 to 30 mm across, conic to campanulate to convex, smooth, and translucent-striate near the margin, often with a low umbo. It is walnut brown to dark rusty brown, with a smooth surface and a separable gelatinous pellicle. It is Hygrophanous, fading to buff as it dries. The flesh sometimes stains blue where damaged. Gills are gills are cream-colored when young and dark purple brown when mature, with an adnate attachment. The spores are dark purple brown, suboblong, and 11 by 6 um. The stipe has a white to ocher, equal, tough, and cartilaginous structure with fibrillose patches. It is 4 to 10 cm long and around .25 cm thick. The partial veil is thin, cortinate, and does not usually leave any remnants on the stipe. Psilocybe strictipes fruits in late summer to fall in Chile, England, France, Germany, Holland, Slovakia, Siberia, Sweden, and the Pacific Northwest. Psilocybe strictipes is found in lawns and grassy fields but never growing directly from dung. Psilocybe venenata Pileus 15-40mm in diameter conical at first, gradually becoming convex to subumbonate to subplane or somewhat depressed at the center but slightly upturned at the margin, glabrous, but in young specimens with minute fibrillose scales from the veil along the margin, even, but slightly striate at the margin when wet, viscid, with the pellicle seperable, hygrophanous, warm-buff or pinkish buff, light blonde brown to cinamon buff, olive brown. Often tinged green when touched. Lamellae adnate or adnexed, with slightly decurrent ends, whitish, light greyish or dingy yellow, finally purplish brown or greyish violet brown, with whitish and subfloccose edges. Stipe 50-70mm cylindrical, equal or nearly equal frequently composed, uneven, silky white, dry fibrous, especially below the annulus, furfuraceous punctate above, stuffed or hollow, base strigose or with white rhizomorphs. Veil well deeloped as a white foccose coat, forming a more or less permanant or evanescent white silky annulus, very thin and delicate. Spores 9.9-12 x 6-7um subellipsoid both in side and face view or somewhat inequilateral in side veiw, thick walled, yellowish brown with large germ pore. Purple brown in deposit. Growing to densly caespitose on soil, rotten wood, straw, decayed rice hulls, or on dung, on roadsides or lawns in deciduous or bamboo forests. fruiting from summer to late autumn. Known only in Japan
Psilocybe liniformans: Psilocybe liniformans is a widely distributed mushroom in Europe, however this species of Psilocybe is very rare. It is in the section semilanceata of Psilocybe. The cap is 1 – 2.5 cm convex to nearly plane, and is sometimes broadly umbonate but not papillate. It is smooth, dull grayish brown to slightly olivacous, more reddish at the center, hygrophanous, and becoming straw brown when dry with the center remaining more brownish. It sometimes has a bluish green tone, or olivacous tones at the margin when young. The gills are adnexed, subdistant, broad, and dark chocolate brown to purplish brown with age. The spores are dark purple brown, ellipsoid, and 13 – 14.5 by 7.5 – 8.8(10)um. The stipe is 1.4 -3.0 cm by 1 %u2013 2 mm, equal, enlarging at the base. It is whitish to very pale brownish, darker below, bruising blue, and finely fibrillose in the lower portion. The partial veil is thin and soon disappears. The taste is weak to somewhat farinaceous; The odor is strongly aromatic to farinaceous. Microscopic features: The basidia are 4-spored and pleurocystidia are absent. The cheilocystidia are 22 – 33 by 5.5 – 9 um, lageniform and have an extended neck.
Psilocybe liniformans var. americana: Psilocybe liniformans var. americana is a very rare variant of liniformans that grows in America. It is found scattered to gregarious in rich pastures or grasslands, fruiting from summer to early winter. It has been collected in Washington, Oregon, and Michigan, and has also been reported from Chile where it fruits in the spring. This mushroom is very close to the type variety; the main difference is the lack of a gelatinous layer on the edge of the lamellae and the terricolous habitat. The cap is 1 – 2.5 cm convex to nearly plane, and is sometimes broadly umbonate but not papillate. It is smooth, dull grayish brown to slightly olivacous, more reddish at the center, hygrophanous, and becoming straw brown when dry with the center remaining more brownish. It sometimes has a bluish green tone, or olivacous tones at the margin when young. The gills are adnexed, subdistant, broad, and dark chocolate brown to purplish brown with age. The spores are dark purple brown, ellipsoid, and 13 -14.5 by 7.5 – 8.8(10)um. The stipe is 1.4 – 3.0 cm by 1 %u2013 2 mm, equal, enlarging at the base. It is whitish to very pale brownish, darker below, bruising blue, and finely fibrillose in the lower portion. The partial veil is thin and soon disappears. The taste is weak to somewhat farinaceous; The odor is strongly aromatic to farinaceous. Microscopic features: The basidia are 4-spored and pleurocystidia are absent. The cheilocystidia are 22 -33 by 5.5 – 9 um, lageniform and have an extended neck.