An in-depth look at the top 10 most popular types of psilocybin

Published Aug 3, 2020 09:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Moha El-Jaw

Psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms or shrooms come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors depending on where the strain in question originates from, but they all have one thing in common and it is that they can be useful for both medicinal and recreational purposes. There are hundreds of different species out there, with many growing wild right around the globe, but unless you know where they are and what they look like, they blend right in with thousands of other wild varieties that are not safe for human consumption.

Unfortunately, many recreational drug users have a minimal understanding of what psilocybin truly is, or what it can do, but as researchers delve more into the therapeutic benefits of certain types of psilocybin, society as a whole is becoming much more accepting of its future place on the market. That’s a really good thing, but a heightened interest means that there will be even more people accidentally consuming the wrong kinds, so here today, we’re going to cover the ten most popular along with mushroom identification features so that you can recognize them when you see them.

1. Psilocybe stuntzii

Common names: Blue Ringer, Stuntz’s Blue Legs

These magic mushrooms are one of the rarest types out there, and though the nicknames you'll hear may seem to indicate that they are blue, they don't turn this color until after they're handled which tends to happen during harvest. Naturally, this type of psilocybin is relatively small as they stand no higher than a few inches, while sporting orangish-brown caps and stems that are splotched with white mixed in with the same tone that is on the cap.

Where to find it: This type of psilocybin can be found in wet nutrient-dense areas where there is plenty of decaying wood debris. They are often found thriving in large fungi colonies along the coastal regions of British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington.

2. Psilocybe cubensis

Common street names: Cubes, Golden Teachers

If you’ve ever tried magic mushrooms, then the chances are good that they were this kind, as they are the third most potent and one of the easiest to cultivate indoors, making them the most used psilocybin in the world. There are currently 60 different strains of psilocybe cubensis, and they vary greatly in color sporting shades from yellow to blue depending on their level of hydration, with long stems and small yet wide caps.

Where to find it: Psilocybe cubensis that grow in the wild are not nearly as potent as their indoor counterparts, but they can be found in the wild in many places, including Cuba, Australia, Southeast Asia Central America, South America, Mexico, India, and the United States.

3. Psilocybe cyanescens

Common names: Blue Meanies

Psilocybe cyanescens are one of the most potent magic mushrooms in the world, with a strength that is 2-3 times stronger than any of their counterparts. These mushrooms can grow up to 6 inches high, and they boast a white and blue color in both the thin steam and the wide caps.

Where to find it: Psilocybe cyanescens can be found growing in Europe, Australia, the Caribbean, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rico, Hawaii, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and they tend to prefer grassy pastures as they thrive on fresh dung in a hot and humid environment.

4. Psilocybe mexicana

Common street names: Pajaritos, Teonanacatl

These cone-shaped magic mushrooms are one of the earliest ever discovered for their effects as they are believed to have been used by the Aztecs in important ceremonies. This type prefers warm and rainy environments, which makes them a rare sight in the dry months of the year, and that’s why they are so hard to cultivate indoors. Their look makes them stand apart from the rest, with incredible tall reach stems that can measure up to 10 inches high, and tiny orange caps that make them look like they’re from out of this world.

Where to find it: Though not impossible, it can be damaging to maintain the environment necessary for this species to thrive indoors, so they produce the most in the wild, but you won’t find them just anywhere, as they are a rare sight to behold, and as far as we know, they really only grow naturally in certain regions of Mexico.

5. Psilocybe azurescens

Common street names: Flying Saucers, Azzies, Blue Angels, Blue Runners

Psilocybe azurescens are referred to as flying saucers because their caps resemble the shape of a thin disc alien craft, unlike many other types of magic mushrooms that have thicker and deeper tops. This is the strongest species of psilocybin, and their strength doesn’t seem to be reduced when they grow wild outdoors. The caps are yellow on top, but the undersides and stems are entirely white which can help you to find them as they stand out against a deep green backdrop.

Where to find it: Flying Saucers only grow in select regions, which is probably why they weren’t officially labeled as a species until 1996, but they can be found on the West Coast of the United States, where there are sandy soil and a consistent temperature that ranges between 16°C to 24°C.

6. Psilocybe cyanescens

Common street names: Wavy Caps

This psilocybin got its name due to the large wavy caps that they boast once matured, and though they weren’t always, these magic mushrooms are now one of the most cultivated in the wild for two reasons. The first is that they don’t do well in indoor environments, and the second is that the species traveled far and wide due to the active lumber industry in their native area. These mushrooms boast a shiny looking brownish cap that has a rip that tilts upwards, and the color is the same in the meat on the fungi, and the stems are entirely white.

Where to find it: Psilocybe cyanescens is believed to have originated somewhere in the Pacific Northwest Central Europe but now they can be found virtually anywhere in the world. This is another type that loves to feed off rotting wood, so if you want to find some, your best bet would be to search a heavily wooded area or gardens that have been mulched year after year.

7. Psilocybe semilanceata

Common street names: Liberty Caps, Witches Hats

Psilocybe semilanceata is considered to be the most widely growing mushrooms in nature, as they seem to reach nearly all edges of the globe. These magic mushrooms are incredibly small in stature, with stems that are so thin that they effectively blend in with the surrounding grass making them difficult to see, as they boast a yellow-brown tinge that adds to its camouflage.

Where to find it: This type of psilocybe thoroughly enjoys large pastures and acidic soils that can be found in meadows and on lawns. They reproduce at a fast rate in areas where cow or sheep manure are present, and you can find them during the summer months in several regions, including Europe, Italy, Germany, Chile, New Zealand, Russia, Iceland, Finland, Bulgaria, Turkey and much of North America.

8. Psilocybe caerulipes

Common street names: Blue Foot Mushroom, River Shrooms

Psilocybe caerulipes is an incredibly rare type of mushroom to find on the black market because they only produce when the environment is just right, but they contain a relatively strong dose of psilocybin that is comparable to Psilocybe cubensis which makes them a really hot commodity among those who are educated on the fungi, so be warned that the strength of this one is nothing to mess around with.

Where to find it: Once you find Psilocybe caerulipes, you will likely never have to look too hard again, as the spores of these fungi don’t travel far, so they tend to come up again year after year in the same spots. This one is another wood shroom, and they most often pop up from hardwood scraps that are slowly breaking down, and they are so widely distributed that they can be found in a lot of places including Canada, the United States, in the Midwest and the east portion of any of the Great Planes.

9. Psilocybe tampanensis

Common street names: Philosopher’s Stones, Magic Truffles, Psilocybin Truffles
This kind of magic mushroom bear fruit by producing either small cone caps that are yellow and brown or truffles which are typically the same color. This psilocybin can thrive both above and below ground and contains a moderate amount of the mind-altering element, so its effects are comparable to most other generic species.

Where to find it: This kind of magic mushroom is most commonly found in closets and grow rooms in the homes of those who produce them for either personal use, or the black market because they are incredibly easy to grow in that environment, but they are very rarely ever found in the wild anymore. They were first discovered in Florida in the late ’70s, and as far as researchers can tell, they are native to only that area.

10. Psilocybe caerulescens

Common street names: Derrumbes, Landslide Mushrooms

These are some of the least potent psilocybin on this list, but they are also one of the most unique because they seem to grow the best in the aftermath of landslides, and they have been used for religious ceremonies by the residents of their native area for many decades. This kind of magic mushroom is small, growing anywhere from 1-4 inches at most, but they make their presence known with thick white stems and wide large deep brown caps that can span more than 5 inches.

Where to find it: Psilocybe caerulescens can be found in the summer months across the most Southern US states including Georgia and South Carolina, but they also thrive in Alabama which is where they were initially noticed and discovered growing on loads of mulch and in Mexico.

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