Psilocybe cubensis

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Psilocybe cubensis
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Stropharia_cubensis.png
Image:Stropharia_cubensis.png


Psilocybe cubensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Fungi
Division:Basidiomycota
Class:Homobasidiomycetes
Order:Agaricales
Family:Strophariaceae
Genus:Psilocybe
Species:P. cubensis
Binomial name
Psilocybe cubensis

Psilocybe cubensis is a species of psychedelic mushroom whose primary, pharmacologically active constituents are psilocybin and psilocin. They belong to the Strophariaceae family, are grey to violet-gray in color, and bruise bluish/purplish when crushed or dried. Their caps are planar when fully mature, and their gills are andate (horizontally attached to the stem) to andex (slightly indented at the attachment point) depending on the subspecies. The gills are closely spaced and drop dark-brown to blackish spores.

Psilocybe cubensae are coprophilic, and colonize the dung of large herbivores, most notably cows and other grazing mammals. They prefer humid grasslands and have been found in tropical and subtropical environments in the Americas and Asia. In the US, they are sometimes found growing wild in the south, generally below the 35th parallel. They have been found in the highlands and river valleys of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru in South America.

Psilocybe cubensis is used in spiritual and or healing rituals in Mesoamerica, notably by the Chol and the Lacandon Maya people in southern Mexico.

This species was identified as Stropharia cubensis by F.S. Earle in Cuba in 1904 (hence the specific name). It was later identified independently as Naematoloma caerulescens in Tonkin in 1907 by N. Patouillard and as Stropharia cyanescens by W.A. Murrill in 1941 in Florida novelty. These synonyms were later assigned to the species P. cubensis. It was later found throughout U.S. Gulf Coast, Mexico, Central America, South America, West Indies, Thailand, Cambodia, India, and Australia.

Its psychoactive compounds are:

Psilocin and psilocybin are substances isolated by Albert Hofmann in 1958 in a related and less potent species, P. mexicana. All four compounds are presumed hallucinogenic, though it is suspected that baeocystin and norbaeocystin are less psychoactive than psilocybin and psilocin.

Psychedelic mushrooms have rich and varied spiritual significance -- they have been used in religious ceremonies for centuries. The Aztecs reserved them for their holiest ceremonies and called them Teonancatl ("divine flesh"). Lacandón priests take them in seclusion with "god pots".

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Psilocybe cubensis growing on a cake of growth medium

Please note that individual brain chemistry plays a significant role in determining appropriate doses. For a modest psychedelic effect, a minimum of one gram of dried cubensis mushrooms is ingested orally. 0.25-1 gram is usually sufficient to produce a mild effect, 1-2.5 grams usually provides a moderate effect. 2.5 grams and higher usually produces strong effects. For most people, 3.5 dried grams (1/8 oz) would be considered a high dose and likely to produce a very intense experience. Above this, the mushroom experience rapidly becomes overwhelming. For a few rare people, doses as small as 0.25 grams can produce full-blown effects normally associated with very high doses. For most people, however, that dose level would result in virtually no effects.

People taking MAOIs need to be very careful, as psilocybin and psilocin are metabolized by the enzyme monoamine oxidase. An MAOI reduces the body's ability to handle the mushrooms (roughly doubling their potency), and can lead to an unpleasant, prolonged, or dangerously strong experience.

While it's nearly impossible to overdose on magic mushrooms (one would have to consume nearly their entire body weight in fresh mushrooms), the effects of very high doses can be completely and dangerously overwhelming.

Depending on the particular strain, growth method, and age at harvest, psilocybe cubensis mushrooms can come in rather different sizes. It is recommended that one weighs the actual mushrooms, as opposed to simply counting them. Fresh mushrooms have an average water content of about 90%, so doses with fresh mushrooms are thus ten times larger than for dried.

Effects usually start after approximately 20-60 minutes (depending on method of ingestion and what else is in the stomach) and last from four to five hours. Hallucinatory effects often occur, including walls that seem to breathe, a vivid enhancement of colors and the animation of organic shapes. At higher doses, experiences tend to be less social and more entheogenic, often intense and spiritual in nature.

Although it is illegal in many nations to possess psilocybin containing mushrooms or mycelium (both of which contain psychoactive substances), it is legal in several places to own and sell spores. In the United States only the psychoactive compounds (see above) are scheduled under federal law. The spores do not contain either (but possession is prohibited by state law in Ohio, Georgia, California, and Utah).

Home cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is not very difficult (in small quantities), and a number of books and online guides have been written that discuss various techniques.

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