Take a Closer Look at a Familiar Shroom
Belonging to the fungus family Hymenogastraceae, psilocybin cubensis is one of the most popular magic mushrooms and is enjoyed by people from all ends of the earth. Cubensis has many great traits, but its resilience and ease of propagation are probably why this species has become so popular. They are easy to grow and require little effort… and you don’t have to be a student of botany.
As you may know, the psychotropic effects are provided by the two active key compounds, psilocybin and psilocin, which are indole alkaloids derived from tryptamine with potent agonist activity at the 5-HT receptors.
Where does it Grow?
Psilocybe cubensis is a coprophilic fungus, which is a fancy way of saying that it likes to grow in dung, specifically the dung of large herbivores… cow pies. Although, the information about cubensis growing under cow pies is false, and we advise you not to eat anything growing under a cow pie. Psilocybe cubensis does prefer humid grasslands and tropical or subtropical environments.
What is In Its Name?
From ancient Greek Latin, we get the words psilos (bare) and kube (head). These have been combined into the new Latin word Psilocybe, which means “bald head.” This is probably due to the appearance of the cap looking like a bald head. The cubensis part of the name comes from Cuba, where it was originally identified in 1904, Stropharia cubensis.
Also known as Stropharia caerulescens, Stropharia cyanescens, and despite being cultivated for centuries in many locations around the world, the “Mexican Mushroom.” This Mexican identification is due to the direction from which they entered mainstream Western Society).
Psilocybe cubensis is the stand-out, go-to magic mushroom.
A Long and Fruitful History
When we say long, we’re talking 15,000 years! In 1992 Terrance McKenna suggested that cattle and human remains show clear evidence that psilocybe cubensis was known to the people of the Non Nak Tha region of Thailand at that time.
Central American tribes also used psilocybe cubensis for both spiritual and recreational purposes. Several stone sculptures reveal that both Aztecs and Mixtec people used magic mushrooms. Both civilizations show sculptural depictions of Gods that were dedicated to these fungi. The Spanish invaders, however, stomped out the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Gordon Wasson rediscovered the use of Psilocybe cubensis in Mexico in 1957. The same year, Life Magazine published an article with the title “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.” This article introduced hallucinogenic mushrooms to the mainstream. A few days later the Wasson’s account of their research was published in the magazine “This Week.”
A Look at Psilocybe Cubensis
The size of the cap is between 1.5 and 1.8 cm in diameter. Bell-shaped when young, the cap changes as it grows, becoming convex, with an umbonate, or plane shape. The cap is smooth when dry and becomes viscid or glutinous when wet. Caps do have a colour range, from cinnamon brown to white, and sometimes entirely yellow. Of course, the blue or blue-green bruising means that it is indeed a psilocybin mushroom.
A stipe is the stalk or stem of the mushroom. The size of the psilocybe cubensis stipe is 4 to 15cm long and 0.4 to 1.5 cm thick. It is usually of even thickness along the entire stipe but can sometimes be a bit wider at the bottom. It is dry smooth and white or can also be slightly yellow or light tan. Like other parts of the mushroom, it will turn blue or blue-green when bruised, signalling that it is a magic mushroom.
The gills are the ribs found under the cap of the Psilocybe cubensis mushroom. Early in its growing cycle, the gills are mostly adnate (which means “to grow together,” in this case to the stipe) or in some cases adnexed (meaning that the gills are not attached or are very narrowly attached to the stipe). As the mushroom ages, these gills eventually secede or are free (which means they eventually have completely separated from the stipe of the psilocybe cubensis.
A Descent Dose
4 to 8 grams is said to be the proper medium dose of psilocybin (the active ingredient in Psilocybe cubensis.
Notice we referred to psilocybin and not the mushroom itself. Here’s why: magic mushrooms are typically about 90% water. For fresh, hydrated mushrooms, here is the generally accepted scale:
For a light trip, take 5 to 10 grams
For a medium trip, take 15 to 25 grams
For an intense trip, take 30 to 35 grams
However, for dried mushrooms, it is a whole other and trickier story. There is no consistent and reliable way to determine the proper dose. This is where your experience with that species and gut feelings come into play. As we’ve said, and you may know by now, frame of mind and mood come into play here, so be careful and thoughtful when taking magic mushrooms.