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Psilocybe Cubensis: The Mushroom Behind the Magic

Psilocybe Cubensis

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Mushrooms are loved around the world for their unique meaty taste and texture.  Their taste and texture blend well with a variety of foods, including soups, salads, and pizza. However, all mushrooms are not the same. Some are delicious and are must-haves in your recipes. Others are used for psychedelic purposes — like the psilocybe cubensis.

We at haven’t written about psychedelic mushrooms before. But recently, several medical journals have reported that these mushrooms may potentially have therapeutic benefits for those suffering from depression and other mental ailments.  So we decided that it is time to explore this topic and to write an article about psychedelic mushrooms.

What Are Magic Mushrooms?

There are several different types of mushrooms that are known to have psychedelic properties., or magic mushrooms, are the most potent and well-known.

Magic Mushrooms

The active psychedelic components in psilocybe cubensis are psilocybin and psilocin. Most purists consider the psilocybe cubensis to be the real magic mushroom. This is because, according to Forensic Science International, one regular-sized psilocybe cubensis mushroom contains 0.1-0.3% psilocybin.

Aside from the nickname magic mushrooms, psilocybe cubensis are also known as shrooms or psychedelic mushrooms. Their most common name is psilocybin mushrooms, They grow easily and naturally in most warmer parts of the world.

History and Etymology of Psilocybe Cubenesis

Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms are also sometimes referred to as golden tops, golden caps, or cubes. They belong to the Hymenogastraceae family of fungi. Psilocybe is a Greek word meaning “bare head” while “cubensis” means “originating from Cuba.” Psilocybe cubensis are also sometimes called “penis envy” mushrooms because of their shape.

The psilocybe cubensis species was first discovered in Cuba by Franklin Sumner Earle in 1907. He initially named them stropharia cubensis.

In 1907, another scientist, Narcisse Theophile, found the same mushroom near the Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, and named it naematoloma caerulescens.

In 1941, a third scientist, William Alphonso Murill came across this mushroom species in Florida and named it stropharia cyanescens. Later on, these names were consolidated, and the final name agreed on was psilocybe cubensis.



The caps of the psilocybe cubensis range from conic to convex in shape as the mushroom matures. They are generally 2-3cm wide. The caps are hygrophanous, which means that they become more or less translucent depending upon how much water the mushroom has absorbed. Young mushrooms are reddish cinnamon brown and become golden brown as they mature.

The edges of the caps are even throughout the lifetime of the mushrooms. When wet, the top of the cap is viscid and smooth. The flesh of the mushroom cap is whitish but becomes bluish when bruised.


The gill pattern varies for different strains of these mushrooms, ranging from adnate (joined by growing together), adnexed (curving toward but not quite touching the stem) to seceding. The gills are close and narrow at the edges but become wider towards the center. The gills are greyish at first, but they become blackish as the mushroom matures. They are slightly mottled, but their edges remain white.

Spore Print

Magic mushrooms have dark purple, brownish spores. The spores are often slightly irregular in shape.

In certain mushroom species — including cubensis — the spores are attached to tiny club-shaped protrusions in the gills called basidia.  The number of spores attached to each basidium varies among different species.  Most of these mushrooms have basidia with 4 spores, while others have 2 or 3.


The stems of the psilocybe cubensis grow between 1.5 and 6 inches long and a quarter-inch to 1 inch thick. The stems of young magic mushrooms are white, but they become yellow as the mushroom ages. While some have fleshy stems, others will be hollow. When bruised, the stem becomes bluish.


These mushrooms have a partial veil that sheds as they age, leaving a white area on the stem.

Taste and Odor

Farinaceous, which means consisting of or containing starch.  Yes, they are starchy and don’t taste very good.  Many users like to make tea with them and add honey.


Psilocybe cubensis contains four main types of psychoactive components: psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, and norbaeocystion.


Magic mushrooms mostly grow on cow dung. Therefore, they are commonly found in cattle ranches. They grow in warmer climates but have been found growing as far north as New Jersey.

Geographical Distribution

Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms are widely distributed and can be found on almost every continent.  They grow in wetter areas but, while they can handle some cold and snow, they prefer warmer locations and rarely grow in places that have hard winters.

Types of Psilocybe Cubensis

There are over 60 strains of psilocybe cubensis mushrooms worldwide. Most of them are named according to where they are found: the Amazonian, Cambodian, Brazilian, Ecuador, Gulf Coast, Orissa India, and Thai, among others.

At the same time, others have unique names that are not affiliated to any location. For example, Elephant, Menace, Pf Classic, B+ strain, A+ strain, and Z strain. Yet, others are named according to their distinct features, such as Golden Teacher and Penis Envy.

The different types of these mushrooms generally look the same with just slight differences in their sizes and depth of color. However, they have different potency. Some, such as the B+ cubenesis, have a high potency. Others, like Alcabenzi,  have relatively low potency.

Below is a brief overview of some of the top the Psilocybe Cubensis strains.

Golden Teacher

This strain of magic mushrooms has been around since the late 1980s though it is not clear where it was first discovered. It has an average potency and is easy to grow even for beginners. The distinguishing features of the Golden Teacher are the golden-brown, wide caps, and thick stems.

B+ Cubensis

This one is another popular Psilocybe Cubensis strain. It is believed to be a hybrid of the Psilocybe Cubensis and the Psilocybe Azurescens. It has a higher potency than most of the other strains of the Psilocybe Cubensis. Users like it because it is less likely to cause nausea than other strains. It germinates and grows quickly, and the first flush is usually the largest, with subsequent ones being much smaller.

Penis Envy

As the name suggests, the Penis Envy has a cap shaped like the head of a penis. It is one of the rarest strains of the Psilocybe Cubensis to find. This is because only 5% of their mushrooms release spores, and the spores have a short life span and contaminate easily. Penis Envy spores are also expensive to buy. They are said to be very potent; 1.5X more potent than most other Psilocybe Cubensis strains.

Penis Envy 6

This mushroom is a hybrid strain between Penis Envy and Texas strain. Like the Penis Envy, its spores have a short life span and are easy to contaminate.

Z Strain

The Z strain is one of the most aggressive and fastest-growing of the Psilocybe Cubensis strains. It was artificially engineered in a lab, and its spores grow well in substrates. Mushroom lovers appreciate its dense, meaty texture and taste. It also has a higher potency than most other strains of magic mushrooms.

A+ Strain

The A+ strain has a light-yellowish cap that is dark yellow in the middle. The stipe is slender and curvy. It spores prolifically, and it is moderately difficult to cultivate.


The Cambodian is one of the most popular magic mushroom strains. The mycologist John Allen first discovered it. Its caps have even color distribution. Typically, it has thicker stems than the other strains. When consumed, it tends to cause a mental high and have fewer physical effects.


Menace Psilocybe Cubensis was first identified on cow dung at a farm in Northwest Texas. It is highly potent. It is said to induce transcendent experiences when consumed. This mushroom is generally bigger than other strains. The color of its cap varies from reddish-brown to yellowish.

Orissa India

This is another well-known Psilocybe Cubensis strain. Since its discovery, mycologists have extensively isolated its genes, leading to more potent, larger mushrooms. It has broad caps that are dark brown in the middle and that have yellowish or whitish edges. Its stems are long and cylindrical. The characteristic side effects of consuming it are intense body vibrations.

How to Consume Psilocybe Cubensis Mushrooms

You can consume magic mushrooms the same way as other species of mushrooms, either dry or fresh. You can add them to a wide range of recipes, whether raw or cooked. Some users also brew magic mushrooms with tea, or add them with tobacco and smoke them.  If you have a sweet tooth, you can grind the mushrooms into a powder and add them to chocolate, cakes, or confectionaries.

Magic mushrooms experts consider 5-10grams of fresh mushrooms enough for a light trip, 15-25gm a medium dose, while 30grams and above a high dose.

With dried magic mushrooms, 2 grams would have mild effects, 3 grams would be considered medium, while 5 grams and above are considered high doses.

Dried Psilocybin Mushrooms

Effects of Consuming Psilocybe Cubensis on the Human Body

Due to their active psychedelic components, magic mushrooms cause hallucinations, mood changes, and heightened sensory sensitivity, among other effects. Their impact varies greatly among different people, and depends on:

  • Amount consumed
  • A person’s weight and height
  • A person’s personality
  • Tolerance for psychedelics
  • Past consumption of other psychedelic substances such as LSD
  • Whether they are used together with other drugs
  • Potency of the magic mushroom consumed

Usually, once consumed, the effects show up within 30 minutes can last for up to 12 hours. For most people, the mushroom trip will peak at around 3-4 hours after consumption. In rare cases, a user can experience “flashbacks” up to 90 days after eating mushrooms.

Many people have pleasant experiences with magic mushrooms, characterized by a deep feeling of calm with expanded consciousness.   However, others have said that their mushroom trip was the worst experience of their life.

Effects of Psilocybin on the Brain

Different studies have been done to investigate the effects of the psilocybin contained in magic mushrooms on the human brain. These studies have revealed that psilocybin binds itself to serotonin receptors, causing sensory distortions.

Some of the studies indicate increased brain activity, especially in the hypothalamus and cortex, which resulted in the brain being in a dreamlike state. Another study showed that brain firing was less organized, which led to consumers having a flurry experience.

Side Effects

Some users have reported side effects in the list below.  These side effects have been reported from consuming Psilocybe Cubensis and other magic mushrooms:

  • Headaches
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fever or chills
  • Stomach aches or discomfort
  • Restlessness
  • Arousal
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of sense of time and place
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Loss of judgment
  • Inability to focus
  • Change in perception
  • Nervousness
  • Extreme emotions
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive sweating

While fatal outcomes from consumption of magic mushrooms are rare, cases have been reported, especially when combined with other drugs, including alcohol. Extreme outcomes include seizures and coma. Psilocybin is not considered to be addictive; there are no physical withdrawal symptoms if one stops using them. However, frequent use can increase the body’s tolerance.

Magic Mushrooms and Mental Health

While some studies have argued that Psilocybe Cubensis has some beneficial effects on mental health, others indicate that the use of psychedelics can have lasting negative effects on mental health.

For instance, one study reported that users who had presenting mental health issues often had a bad experience when they consumed psilocybes. They reported increased sadness, agitation, anxiety, depression, paranoia, and in extreme cases, self-destruction and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms lasted for a few days for some, while for others, they lasted weeks or even months.

Some studies indicate that micro-dosing (0.05-0.25g) or mini-dosing (0.25-0.75g) on psilocybin can have therapeutic effects such as reduced stress, improved mood, emotional stability, clear thinking, enhanced memory, mindfulness, increased creativity, relaxation, and improved energy flow.

A recent study of Psilocybin therapy indicated that it helps manage and alleviate some mental health issues, especially reducing depression. During therapy, the therapist administers a predetermined psilocybin dose to the patient at the therapy session’s onset.

The therapist then allows the psychedelic to kick in by letting the patient relax in a comfortable setting and then leads the client through a therapy session. Psilocybin therapy is still new, and more studies need to be carried out into its effectiveness.


Psilocybe mushrooms’ legality falls in a gray area as they are legal in some countries but not in others. In 1971, the UN attempted to criminalize the growing of psilocybin mushrooms. And during the Vienna convention that was spearheaded by the US, psilocybin was classified as a Schedule 1 drug.

Schedule 1 drugs are considered to have a high risk of being abused, and they have no record for medicinal use. However, there no UN laws explicitly prohibiting the cultivation of magic mushrooms.

While some countries have stipulated that it is illegal to grow, sell, transport, or possess psilocybin mushrooms, others allow for cultivation but have criminalized sale and transportation.

For instance, in the US, it is illegal in most states to possess, sell, or transport mushrooms that contain psilocybin. A few states have decriminalized cultivation and possession of magic mushrooms, including Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, and California.

However, selling the spores — which do not contain psilocybin — is legal throughout the US, except in Georgia, California, and Idaho. With that said, selling spores with the intention of producing hallucinogenics is illegal in all  states.

Other countries that have criminalized growing, sale, possession, and transportation of magic mushrooms include UK, Ukraine, Turkey, Taiwan, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovenia, Serbia, Poland, Norway, New Zealand, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Japan, Ireland, India, Germany, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Croatia, Bolivia, and Australia among others.

In Spain, possession, and cultivation for personal use is allowed. In countries such as Samoa, Jamaica, Nepal, and Brazil, cultivation, sale, possession, and transportation of psilocybin mushrooms is allowed.

Cultivation of the Psilocybe Cubensis

Psilocybe Cubensis is one of the most commonly grown magic mushrooms due to its ease of cultivation.  When growing mushrooms, you can buy ready-made mushroom kits, or, if you are up to the challenge, you can gather the necessary equipment and material from scratch. 

While you can find mushroom kits for most of the other types of mushrooms, it can be hard to find a mushroom kit for magic mushrooms due to the legalities involved in most countries and states.

Therefore, most people opt to grow their own Psilocybe Cubensis from scratch using a method called the PF Tek method, which involves growing your mushrooms in sterilized jars.

We advise that you adhere to the rules and regulations in your area regarding cultivation, sale, transportation, and possession of psilocybin mushrooms.

Necessary Supplies

To grow the Psilocybe Cubensis at home from scratch, you will need the following:

  • Psilocybe Cubensis spores. These are the magic mushroom “seeds.”  They are available as spore solutions that are packaged in syringes
  • Mycelium substrate. This is the “dirt” that you will inject (plant) the spores into.  In most cases, the mycelium substrate is made from vermiculite, brown rice flour, and water, as these substances supply optimal nutrients for the growth of your magic mushrooms. Other substrate options for growing the Psilocybe Cubensis strains include rye grain, manure, and straw
  • Clean and sanitized glass jars to contain the substrate and grow the mycelium
  • Cooking pot or pressure cooker to sterilize the jars and substrate
  • A fruiting chamber. You can use a transparent storage box for this
  • The right environment for the spores to grow and fruit. These include warm temperatures, indirect sunlight, high humidity, a good balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and sterile conditions

The potency of cultivated Psilocybe Cubensis varies depending upon the conditions in which they are cultivated, and the specific strain that you are growing. In fact, one flush (harvest from the same jar) may produce a more potent harvest than the previous flush, or vice versa.

The potency also varies in different parts of the mushrooms. For instance, the potency on the caps may be higher than that of the stems.

Wrapping It Up

Psilocybe Cubensis is one of the most popular magic mushrooms. It has numerous strains that do well in different parts of the world. It can be easily grown at home using the PK Tek method. 

While most people consume Psilocybe Cubensis for its psychedelic effects, some studies have shown that Psilocybe Cubensis and other magic mushrooms may have therapeutic applications.

However, more research is needed to determine whether there is a place for Psilocybe Cubensis and other psilocybin mushrooms in the mental health world.


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