Magic mushrooms, depending on who you ask, are either revered and famous or feared and infamous. It won’t shock you to hear that we at Zamnesia are quite fond of them, and fall into the first category.
“Magic mushroom”, however, is a very broad term, encapsulating hundreds of different species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms. If you’ve ever grown or bought magic mushrooms, chances are they were a strain of Psilocybe cubensis. This species is very widespread and easy to cultivate, making it potentially the most popular magic mushroom in the world.
WHAT IS PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS?
Psilocybe cubensis is the most widespread species of magic mushroom on the planet. It can be found in North, Central, and South America, South Asia, and Australia. Growing naturally on mostly bovine dung, it is a species that displays impressive variety.
In the world of domestic cultivation, this variety increases dramatically. There are now potentially dozens of selectively bred strains, each displaying unique shape, size, colouration, and effects.
The active ingredient in Psilocybe cubensis is psilocybin, hence the name. In fact, all species of magic mushroom fall into the Psilocybe genus. Their psychoactive power is what, at least to us, defines them. Psilocybin has the chemical structure 4-PO-HO-DMT. The dimethyltryptamine (DMT) at the end causes it to interface with the brain’s serotonin receptors. It shares this with most hallucinogens, which primarily influence serotonin production.
HOW DID PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS GAIN POPULARITY?
This species of magic mushroom gained popularity primarily due to its accessibility and ease of cultivation. While other species of magic mushroom are deemed stronger—azurescens, semilanceata, cyanescens—cubensis are uniquely easy to cultivate, not only in the lab, but in a home environment too. In 1976, Oss and Oeric published a book outlining the simple steps necessary for home cultivation, and since then, the popularity of Psilocybe cubensis has blossomed.
APPEARANCE OF PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS MUSHROOMS
To go into the different appearances of the various cultivated strains of cubensis would take too long for this article’s purposes. But we can provide a general outline on the appearance of wild varieties of Psilocybe cubensis.
Cubensis caps begin life as a conical shape and flatten out as they mature. Ranging from anywhere between 1.5 and 8cm, they can display quite some variety in size. Moreover, size can be dictated by a number of factors, from genetics to environment. Even magic mushrooms within the same strain vary dramatically in size.
In terms of colouration, the caps begin with a sort of reddish hue and lighten to a more golden colour as they age. Like most parts of a Psilocybe mushroom, the cap can bruise blue.
The gills are the part of a mushroom from which spores are released. Spores are used for fertilisation. Interestingly, they are produced asexually, and if conditions are right, will cause hyphae to grow from the ground, mate, and give rise to a new mushroom.
Gills begin life as a sort of pale colour and darken once they release spores. Before spores are released, something known as a “veil”, which covers the gills, detaches from the cap and “drops” when the mushroom reaches maturity. Spores are then released, and the gills darken.
SPORE PRINT PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS B+(10)
Mature stems tend to be 4 to 15cm long and 0.5 to 1.5cm thick. They are often white, and can turn to a light yellow colour. More than any other part of the body, these can most noticeably bruise blue. In domestic cultivation, mycelium (the white subterranean mould from which mushrooms grow) may grow as a fine, white, cotton-like fuzz on the base of the stem.
As mentioned, there are many different strains of cubensis now, each with its own characteristics. Some of these are very different from their wild relatives. For instance, the strain Albino A+ is just that: albino. With no pigment, it appears a ghostly white. And Penis Envy, one of the strongest known strains of cubensis, has a decidedly phallic appearance, and is decidedly more challenging to grow than others.
POTENCY OF PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS
Appearance is not the only thing that can vary between cubensis mushrooms. Potency also differs widely from strain to strain, and even within strains. Once more, potency comes down to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
In the wild, Psilocybe cubensis potency can vary by a factor of 10. Cultivated mushrooms tend to be more similar to one another, varying by a factor of around 4. Mushroom potency is usually measured according to the concentration of two compounds: psilocin and psilocybin. In the body, psilocybin is converted to psilocin, which can then be processed.
Psilocybin vs. Psilocin: The Differences
In wild mushrooms, factors such as ultraviolet radiation and the nutrient content of the dung upon which the mushrooms grow are thought to be some of the leading factors responsible for deciding the final potency. This goes to explain why indoor mushrooms tend to display less variation and are generally more potent. Their UV exposure is likely to be minimal, and their substrate will be nutrient rich and carefully managed.
It’s also worth noting that smaller mushrooms from a colony will contain a higher gram-for-gram concentration of psilocybin/psilocin compared to larger mushrooms. So, 10 grams of small mushrooms will be stronger than 10 grams of large mushrooms.
As a consequence of all this variation, dosing mushrooms is always partially an estimation. No two grams will contain the same amount of psychoactive compounds! Therefore, if you have the option, mixing cubensis strains and sizes should equal it out and allow for more accurate dosing.
MAGIC MUSHROOM DOSAGE CALCULATORCALCULATE
CULTIVATION OF PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS
As mentioned, Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms are revered for their ease of cultivation. Outdoors, they grow around the world in warm, humid environments where they can get their hyphae into nutrient-rich dung.
Indoors, they prove robust, resilient, and at home in many different environments, making them easy to grow at home. While their natural substrate is dung, they can grow on a number of host environments: grain, straw, cardboard, and coco coir, to name but a few. You can even grow Psilocybe cubensis mycelium suspended in water. This is called a liquid culture.
Not only does it grow well, but it can travel too. If you don’t fancy dedicating space to the cultivation of fungi, then you can order pre-colonised grow kits that will start fruiting immediately!
WHY DO MAGIC MUSHROOMS TURN BLUE?
Magic mushrooms turn blue as a result of a cascade reaction, beginning with psilocybin. This blue, similar to indigo, is the result of psilocybin oxidation. A chain reaction begins, from which various pigments are formed from this chemical breakdown.
What Does Blue Bruising Mean On Magic Mushrooms?
To see this in its full glory, consider trying the lemon tek method and leaving your mushrooms out in the open for a little bit. Eventually, this solution will turn a vibrant blue colour. But make sure you drink it quickly, as blue indicates that psilocybin is breaking down into its constituent parts!
PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS USAGE
Magic mushrooms make for a great time, no doubt about it. However, the psychedelic experience is, for many, much more meaningful than just a little fun. In fact, even among those who take mushrooms for purely recreational purposes, it’s rare that one comes away without feeling as though something quite profound has happened. So it’s no wonder that they have been used for thousands of years, across many different cultures, for religious and ceremonial purposes.
In today’s modern world, Psilocybe cubensis is being investigated for their potential medical and therapeutic uses.
EFFECTS OF PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS
Given the range of potential applications, and the reverence in which these fungi are held by many, it should come as no surprise that the effects of Psilocybe cubensis can be very powerful, and very profound.
At low doses, they cause a warping of reality that affects all the senses. As dose increases, this can turn into a full-blown psychedelic trip. While complete hallucinations and detachment from reality are rare with cubensis, they are still capable of inducing powerful experiences in which the user’s relationship with reality becomes drastically changed.
Due to their power, it is important to treat these mushrooms with respect. While they tend to be one of the more affectionate psychedelics, in the sense that the high is often pleasurable by default, if a user embarks upon a psychedelic mushroom journey without showing proper respect, it can still turn sour. That being said, bad trips on mushrooms tend to be far milder, and shorter, than on other psychedelics, such as LSD.
When taking any psychedelic, ensure that you are in an appropriate setting and have a good mindset. That is, make sure your mind is positive and calm, and that your environment is comfortable and familiar. Otherwise, it will just turn into a battle of wills, and the mushrooms will win!
Set & Setting: Two Essential Variables For A Psychedelic Trip
LEGALITY OF PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS
Magic mushroom legality varies from country to country. According to certain laws, mushrooms are categorised into constituent parts:
- Mushroom (fruiting body)
In some countries, such as the Netherlands, the law treats these parts differently. For instance, spores and mycelium (and truffles) are legal—which is why it is legal to sell mushroom grow kits—but the mushroom fruiting bodies themselves are illegal.
So, before purchasing, growing, or picking, check the laws in your own country!
PSILOCYBE CUBENSIS: NATURE’S GIFT
Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms are, it’s fair to say, incredible things. Despite the modern world’s hysterical fear of psychedelics (a view that is now receding), magic mushrooms have been loved for much of human history. And now, many scientific discoveries are being made about them that only support this ancient adoration.
Nevertheless, anybody wishing to take such a powerful drug should always proceed with caution and respect. Overdo it, and you might develop a lifelong fear of them. Tread carefully, and you may have a loving companion for the rest of your life.
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