(Fr.) P.Kumm. (1871)
(Fr.) P.Kumm. (1871)
Psilocybe is a genus of small mushrooms growing worldwide. This genus is best known for its species with psychedelic properties, widely known as "magic mushrooms". Psilocin and psilocybin are the psychedelic compounds responsible for the psychoactive effects of many species in the genus.
The word Psilocybe comes from the Greek words ψιλός + κύβη, and literally means "bare headed", referring to the mushroom's detachable pellicle (loose skin over the cap). It may be pronounced with the accent on the first syllable (//) or the second (//). The final e is not silent. The marked difference between the Botanical Latin-based pronunciation (given here) and anglicized colloquial pronunciations (with a silent "e") is sometimes a source of confusion in oral communication about this genus.
Psilocybe fruit bodies are typically small, nondescript mushrooms with a typical "little brown mushroom" morphology. Macroscopically, they are characterized by their small to occasionally medium size, brown to yellow-brown coloration, with a typically hygrophanous cap, and a spore print-color that ranges from lilac-brown to dark purple-brown (though rusty-brown colored varieties are known in at least one species). Hallucinogenic species typically have a blue-staining reaction when the fruit body is bruised. Microscopically, they are characterized by pileipellis with hyphae that run parallel to the pileus surface, forming a cutis, by their lack of chrysocystidia, and by spores that are smooth, ellipsoid to rhomboid to subhexagonal in shape, with a distinct apical germ pore. Ecologically, all species of Psilocybe are saprotrophs, growing on various kinds of decaying organic matter.
A 2002 study of the molecular phylogeny of the agarics indicated that the genus Psilocybe as then defined was polyphyletic, falling into two distinct clades that are not directly related to each other. The blue-staining hallucinogenic species constituted one clade and the non-bluing species the other. The previous type species (Psilocybe montana) of the genus was in the non-bluing clade, but in 2010 the type species was changed to Psilocybe semilanceata, a member of the bluing clade. A 2006 molecular phylogenetic study of the Agaricales by Matheny and colleauges, further demonstrated the separation of the bluing and non-bluing clades of Psilocybe in a larger, strongly supported phylogenetic tree of the Agaricales.
Until recently, Psilocybe was placed taxonomically in the agaric family Strophariaceae based upon its spore and pileipellis morphology. The phylogenetic study by Matheny et al., placed the non-bluing Psilocybe and its close relatives in a basal position within the Strophariaceae, a sister taxon to a clade containing the other genera within that family. The bluing Psilocybe, however, form a clade that is sister to Galerina in the newly erected family, Hymenogastraceae. The phylogenetic study by Moncalvo, et al. confirmed that the agaric genus Melanotus is simply a subgroup of the non-bluing Psilocybe, and also pointed to a close relationship between the latter group and the genera Kuehneromyces and Phaeogalera.
In 2007, a paper by Redhead et al. proposed conserving the genus Psilocybe with Psilocybe semilanceata as its type species. The suggestion was accepted by unanimous vote of the Nomenclature Committee for Fungi of the International Botanical Congress in 2010, meaning that P. semilanceata (a member of the bluing clade) now serves as the type species of the genus. Since P. semilanceata is now the type species of the genus, the bluing hallucinogenic clade remained in the genus Psilocybe while the non-bluing clade were transferred to the genus Deconica.
Distribution and habitat 
Geographically, species in this genus are found throughout the world in most biomes. The greatest species diversity seems to be in the neotropics, from Mesoamerica through Brazil and Chile. Psilocybe are found in a variety of habitats and substrates. Many of the species found in temperate regions, such as Psilocybe cyanescens, seem to have an affinity for landscaped areas mulched with woodchips and are actually rather rare in natural settings removed from human habitation. Contrary to popular belief, only a minority of Psilocybe species, such as P. cubensis and P. subcubensis, grow directly on feces. Many other species are found in habitats such as mossy, grassy, or forest humus soils.
Biochemistry and pharmacology 
The psilocybin molecule is indirectly responsible for the hallucinogenic properties of the Psilocybe genus. This compound, as well as all other indole alkaloids, are derived from the amino acid tryptophan, being the only amino acid with the indole-amine ring. Trytpophan is converted to tryptamine by the addition of an amine group. Two methylation steps occur producing DMT, another psychedelic compound. Hydroxylation of this compound produces the more potent hallucinogen psilocin, followed by phosphorylation yielding psilocybin. After ingestion of the psilocybin compound alkaline phosphatases present in the body's digestive system, kidneys, and possibly in the blood readily cleave the phosphoryl ester bond from psilocybin, yielding the hydroxyl compound, psilocin. Psilocin is the chemical primarily responsible for the hallucinogenic effects of the Psilocybe genus. The blue-staining species of Psilocybe are characterized by the presence of psilocin and psilocybin. This blue-staining reaction occurs after the fruit body has been injured, particularly near the base of the stalk. This reaction is thought to be due to the oxidation of psilocybin after the outer surface of the fruit body has been breached. The degree of bluing in a Psilocybe fruit body roughly correlates with the concentration of psilocin in the mushroom. Psilocybin is chemically far more stable than psilocin, the latter compound being largely lost when the mushroom is heated or dried.
The chemical structure of serotonin, an innate indole alkaloid neurotransmitter that regulates our mood and therefore happiness, is nearly identical to that of psilocin. The latter differing mainly by the hydroxyl group moving one carbon and the addition of two methyl groups that make the molecule lipophilic (fat soluble), ergo capable of crossing the lipid membrane sheaths of the central nervous system. After psilocybin has been ingested and dephosphorylated, to psilocin, the mechanism it uses in the brain has a direct agonist effect on the 5-HT serotonin receptors. To explain this effect, the psilocin molecule essentially mimics the serotonin molecule, binding to the 5-HT receptors and initiating the same response as the serotonin. This effect explains the euphoria experienced by ingestion of this "agonist". Initially, hallucinogens were thought to blockade these serotonin neurotransmitters, but persistent research led to this agonist effect conclusion.
Woolley and Campbell conducted research to determine whether the depletion of the hormone serotonin had a direct effect on mental disorders and that hallucinations might be due to an excess of serotonin. Their results led them to study chemicals analogous to serotonin. They found that the psychoactive chemicals psilocybin and psilocin exhibited serotonin-like effects, however as dosage increased acted as serotonin antagonist, psilocybin being comparable to the most potent antagonist yet discovered. This is a plausible basis for the psychological effects of these hallucinogenic compounds.
Even though these chemicals are psychoactive and therefore the basidiomycete deemed toxic, there have been no reports of fatalities or induced internal organ damage directly associated with ingestion of these chemicals. Misidentification of the fruit body could lead to ingestion of a lethal fungus.
Medical and psychiatric aspects 
The medicinal uses of the Psilocybe genus date back before history was accurately recorded by Indians of Central America. Shamans, or curanderas would avidly ingest the "sacred mushrooms" for the extrasensory perceptual effects it gave them in order to better assess problems faced in their society. The effects observed by the alkaloids found in these mushrooms has given rise to research in possible uses for psychiatric medicine. For details on contemporary research, see: Psilocybin: Medicine.
History and ethnography 
Hallucinogenic species of Psilocybe have a long history of use among the native peoples of Mesoamerica for religious communion, divination, and healing, from pre-Columbian times up to the present day. Hallucinogenic Psilocybe were known to the aboriginal Mexicans as teonanácatl (literally "divine mushroom") and were reportedly served at the coronation of Moctezuma II in 1502. After the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the use of hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms, like other pre-Christian traditions, was forcibly suppressed and driven underground.
By the 20th century, hallucinogenic mushroom use was thought by non-Native Americans to have disappeared entirely. However, in 1955, Valentina and R. Gordon Wasson became the first Westerners to actively participate in an indigenous mushroom ceremony. The Wassons did much to publicize their discovery, even publishing an article on their experiences in Life in 1957. In 1956, Roger Heim identified the hallucinogenic mushroom that the Wassons had brought back from Mexico as Psilocybe and in 1958, Albert Hofmann first reported psilocin and psilocybin as the active compound in these mushrooms. There is some skepticism in whether or not these "sacred mushrooms" were actually those of the Psilocybe genus. However, according to Heim's research in Mexico, he identified three species of Psilocybe that he believed were used in these Indian ceremonies. The species identified by Heim were; Psilocybe mexicana, P. caerulescen, and P. zapotecorum. are a variety of Psilocybe mushrooms that make up the teonanácatl group of hallucinogenic mushrooms, including Psilocybe cubensis. During Heim's field and culture work, he was under the guidance of a descendent of the Mazotecan ancestors (the natives which partook in experimenting with these hallucinogens), the head of the family, Isauro Nava Garcia. He was an avid observer of the fungi in his environment while identifying specific characteristics about the fruit body of the Psilocybe genus his ancestors utilized, as well as knowing where they could be found.
At present, hallucinogenic mushroom use has been reported among a number of groups spanning from central Mexico to Oaxaca, including groups of Nahua, Mixtecs, Mixe, Mazatecs, Zapotecs, and others.
The popularization of entheogens by Wasson, Timothy Leary, and others has led to an explosion in the use of hallucinogenic Psilocybe throughout the world. By the early 1970s, a number of psychoactive Psilocybe species were described from temperate North America, Europe, and Asia and were widely collected. Books describing methods of cultivating Psilocybe cubensis in large quantities were also published. The relatively easy availability of hallucinogenic Psilocybe from wild and cultivated sources has made it among the most widely used of the hallucinogenic drugs.
Legal status 
The purified chemicals psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule I drugs under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. However, the UN drug treaties do not apply to cultivation, preparation, or international transport of psilocybin mushrooms.
Internationally, the two chemicals are generally considered controlled substances. However, there is much ambiguity about what is considered a "container" of these compounds in several countries (e.g. Brazil), the chemicals themselves are listed as controlled substances, but the mushrooms that contain the chemicals are not, therefore deemed legal. In the United States, possession of Psilocybe mushroom fruiting bodies is illegal in every state except for Florida. This is because the Supreme Court of Florida does not believe that these mushrooms could "reasonably be found to be containers of the schedule I substance, psilocybin".
In the United States there is no federal law mentioning the possession of Psilocybe spores, this is due to the fact that only the psilocybin and psilocin compounds are considered Schedule I drugs and there is no presence of these compounds in the spores themselves, only in the fruiting body of the cultivated spores. However, there are several US states that have actually prohibited possession of these spores due to the fact that they can be cultivated to produce these hallucinogenic, Schedule I drugs. These states includes California, Georgia, and Idaho.
However, possession of the spores by a qualified mycologist in California is legal if being put to use for research purposes, which must be approved by Research Advisory Panel. If not authorized by law, possession of spores or cultivation of fruiting bodies of the Psilocybe genus is punishable to not more than one year in county jail or state prison.
Psilocybin mushrooms as well as other "soft drugs" which are stronger than cannabis but not synthetic, are legally available through smart shops in Amsterdam. Only the truffle form of magic mushrooms (such as Psilocybe tampanensis) are currently legal, but these still contain the active ingredients and produce similar effect as the caps and stalks.
Notable species 
- Psilocybe cubensis (Stropharia cubensis); the most commonly grown and consumed Psilocybe, due to ease of cultivation and large size of carpophores; also commonly collected throughout the tropics and subtropics, nicknamed the commercial psilocybe.
- Psilocybe cyanescens; Native to the Pacific Northwest of North America, but also found in western Europe; nicknamed the wavy-cap or wavies.
- Psilocybe semilanceata; Found in northern temperate climates; nicknamed the liberty cap.
- Psilocybe azurescens, a highly potent species native to the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon, but popular in outdoor cultivation, and expanding its range as a result; nicknamed azies.
See also 
- "Psilocybe (Fr.) P. Kumm. :21, 71, 1871". MycoBank. International Mycological Association. Retrieved 2012-12-14.
- Cornelis S (1826). Schrevelius' Greek lexicon, tr. into Engl. with numerous corrections. p. 358.
- US dict: sĭl′·ə·sī·bē
- US dict: sī·lŏs′·ə·bē
- Paye Y. (2003). Genesis of the PF Redspore psilocybe. Erowid.org.
- Guzmán (1983), p. 22.
- Largent DL and Baroni TJ. (1988). How to Identify Mushrooms to Genus VI: Modern Genera. Eureka, California: Mad River Press. ISBN 0-916422-76-3.
- Moncalvo JM, Vilgalys R, Redhead SA, Johnson JE, James TY, Catherine Aime M, Hofstetter V, Verduin SJ, Larsson E, Baroni TJ, Greg Thorn R, Jacobsson S, Clémençon H, Miller OK Jr. (2002). "One hundred and seventeen clades of euagarics". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 23 (3): 357–400. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00027-1. PMID 12099793.
- Matheny PB, Curtis JM, Hofstetter V, Aime MC, Moncalvo JM, Ge ZW, Slot JC, Ammirati JF, Baroni TJ, Bougher NL, Hughes KW, Lodge DJ, Kerrigan RW, Seidl MT, Aanen DK, DeNitis M, Daniele GM, Desjardin DE, Kropp BR, Norvell LL, Parker A, Vellinga EC, Vilgalys R, Hibbett DS. (2006). "Major clades of Agaricales: a multilocus phylogenetic overview" (PDF). Mycologia 98 (6): 982–95. doi:10.3852/mycologia.98.6.982. PMID 17486974.
- Redhead S, Moncalvo JM, Vilgalys R, Matheny PB, Guzmán-Davalos L, Guzmán G. (2007). "Propose to conserve the name Psilocybe (Basidiomycota) with a conserved type". Taxon 56 (1): 255–7.
- Norvell L. (2007). "Report of the Nomenclature Committee for Fungi: 15". Taxon 59 (1): 291–3.
- "The genus Deconica (W. G. SM.) P. KARST. in Europe – new combinations" (PDF). Österreichische Zeitschrift für Pilzkunde 18: 207–10. 2009.
- Guzmán (1983), pp. 22–32.
- Guzmán G, Allen JW, Gartz J. (1998). "A worldwide geographical distribution of the neurotropic fungi, an analysis and discussion" (PDF). Annali del Museo civico di Rovereto 14: 198–280.
- Guzmán (1983), p. 31.
- Leung AY, Paul AG. (1968). "Baeocystin and norbaeocystin: new analogs of psilocybin from Psilocybe baeocystis". Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 57 (10): 1667–71. doi:10.1002/jps.2600571007. PMID 5684732.
- Nichols D. (2004). "Hallucinogens". Pharmacology & Therapeutics 101: 135.
- Dewick P. (2009). Medicinal Natural Products. John Wiley & Sons. p. 368.
- Stamets, 1996, p. 56.
- Stamets, 1996, p. 53. "The bluing reaction is obvious in the more potent species, especially those high in psilocin. In general, the less psilocin there is in a species, the more subtle the bluing reaction."
- May P. "Psilocybin and Mescaline". University of Bristol. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- Woolley DW, Campbell NK. (1962). "Serotonin-like and antiserotonin properties of psilocybin and psilocin". American Association for the Advancement of Science. 3518 136: 777–8. JSTOR 1708525.
- Halpern J, Roth BL. (2004). "Hallucinogens and dissociative agents naturally growing in the United States". Pharmacology & Therapeutics 102 (2): 131–8. doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2004.03.003.
- Emmons, Chester W. (Jan.-Feb. 1961). "Mycology and Medicine". Mycologia 53 (1): 1–10. JSTOR 3756126.
- Wasson RG. (1980). The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-068443-0.
- Díaz JL. (1977). "Ethnopharmacology of sacred psychoactive plants used by the Indians of Mexico". Annual Reviews of Pharmacology and Toxicology 17: 647–75. doi:10.1146/annurev.pa.17.040177.003243. PMID 17363.
- Wasson RG. (1957). "Seeking the magic mushroom". Life (June 10). article reproduced online
- Hofmann A, Heim R, Brack A, Kobel HF. (1958). "Psilocybin, ein psychotroper Wirkstoff aus mexikanischen Rauschpilz Psilocybe mexicana Heim". Experientia (in German) 14 (3): 107–12. doi:10.1007/BF02159243. PMID 13537892.
- Heim R, Wasson G. (1956). "Les champignons divinatoires utilises dans les rites des Indiens Mazateques recueillis au cours de leur premier voyage au Mexique, en 1953, par Mme Valentina Pavlovna Wasson and M. R. Gordon Wasson". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences (in French) 242: 965, 968.
- Heim R, Wasson G. (1956). "Les champignons divinatoires recueillis par Mme Valentina Pavlovna Wasson et M. R. Gordon Wasson au cours de leurs missions de 1954 et 1955 dans les pays mije, mazateque, zapoteque et nahua du Mexique meridional et central". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences (in French) 242: 1389–95.
- Heim R, Wasson G. (1957). Les agarics hallucinogenes du genre PsilocybeComptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences (in French) 244. pp. 659–700.
- Singer, Rolf (1951). "Diagnoses Fungorum novorum Agaricalium". Lilloa 22: 472, 506.
- Singer, Rolf; Smith, Alexander H. (Mar.-Apr. 1958). "Mycological investigations on teonanacatl, the Mexican hallucinogenic mushroom. Part II. A Taxonomic Monograph of Psilocybe, Section Caerulescentes". Mycologia 50 (2): 262–303. doi:10.2307/3756197. JSTOR 3756197.
- Guzmán G. (2008). "Hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico: an overview". Economic Botany 62 (3): 404–12. doi:10.1007/s12231-008-9033-8.
- Erowid. "Legality of Psilocybin Mushroom Spores". Erowid.
- "Richard D. Fiske vs. Florida". Erowid.
- "Georgia Code-Crimes and Offenses- Title 16, Section 16-13-71".
- Idaho Legislature. "Title 37, Chapter 27 Uniform Controlled Substances". Idaho Legislature.
- "2005 California Health and Safety Code Sections 11390-11392 Article 7. Mushrooms". Justia US Law. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- van Amsterdam J, Opperhuizen A, van den Brink W. (2011). "Harm potential of magic mushroom use: a review". Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 59 (3): 423–9. doi:10.1016/j.yrtph.2011.01.006. PMID 21256914.
- Alexopoulos CJ, Mims CW, Blackwell M. (1996). Introductory Mycology. John Wiley and Sons. p. 536. ISBN 0-471-52229-5.
Cited books 
Guzmán G. (1983). The genus Psilocybe: A Systematic Revision of the Known Species Including the History, Distribution and Chemistry of the Hallucinogenic Species. Nova Hedwigia Beihefte 74. Berlin, Germany: J. Cramer. ISBN 3-7682-5474-7.
- Stamets P. (1996). Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-839-7.
Further reading 
- Emboden, William. 1979. Narcotic Plants (revised and enlarged). New York: Macmillan. 206 pp. ISBN 0-02-535480-9 (hb). ISBN 0-02-062840-4 (paper)
- Furst, Peter T. 1976. Hallucinogens and Culture. San Francisco: Chandler and Sharp Publishers. Chapter Seven, The sacred mushrooms: Rediscovery in Mexico; pp 75–88. Available from: http://www.sunrisedancer.com/radicalreader/detail.asp?iArt=4&iType=21 ISBN 0-88316-517-1
- Haard, Richard & Karen. 1977, Poisonous and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms (second edition). Mayne Island (BC) and Seattle: Cloudburst Press. 126 pp ISBN 0-88930-018-6.
- McKenna, Terence. 1992. Food of the Gods. New York: Bantam Books. 313 pp ISBN 0-553-37130-4 (paper).
- Metzner, Ralph (ed). 2005. Sacred Mushroom of Visions: Teonanácatl [2nd ed]. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press. 304 pp. ISBN 1-59477-044-1
- Ott, Jonathan and Bigwood, Jeremy.1978. Teonanácatl: Hallucinogenic mushrooms of North America. Seattle: Madrona Publishers. 175 p. [out of print] ISBN 0-914842-32-3
- Oss, O. T. and O. N. Oeric (pseudonym of Terence McKenna). 1976. Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower's Guide. Berkeley, CA: And/Or Press. 63 pp ISBN 0-915904-13-6 (paper).
- Stamets, Paul. 1996. Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. 245 pp. ISBN 0-89815-839-7
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General information 
- AmericanMushrooms.com: A New Look at Hallucinogenic (Psilocybin) Mushrooms
- Erowid - Psilocybin Mushrooms
- Erowid Psilocybe Mushroom FAQ
- MushroomExpert.com Taxonomy in Transition: The Strophariaceae - Taxonomic issues of Psilocybe and other stropharioid fungi.
- Machiel E. Noordeloos: Psilocybe - taxonomy and characteristics of non-bluing Psilocybe.
History and ethnography 
- Timeline of mushroom use at Erowid.org
Legal aspects 
- Psilocybin Mushrooms: Legal Status – Erowid
- EMCDDA Thematic Paper: Hallucinogenic mushrooms - an emerging trend case study, June 26, 2006
- The Shroomery Detailed information about psilocybe mushrooms including identification, cultivation and spores, psychedelic images, trip reports, a dosage calculator and an active community.
- Psilocybe mushrooms from The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances
- INCHEM - Psilocybe and others – Toxicology of psilocybin mushrooms.
- A Worldwide Geographical Distribution of the Neurotropic Fungi
- Psilocybe Mushrooms – Studies in Ethnomycology