Finding The Mushroom

All it takes is one mushroom or a few spores and from this one can quickly develop a culture that will continue to produce as much psilocybin as one desires for years to come. Because the common San Ysidro mushroom, Psilocybe cubensis ..Singer (Formerly Stropharia cubensis ..Earl) is the most easily obtainable, the most readily cultivated, most disease resistant, and psychoactively strongest species we have geared our instructions to it's use. There are, however, numerous other species which contain psilocybin. In case one of these is all that is available, we give for several of these pertinent information such a relative potency, where and when to find specimens, what growing conditions (medium, temperature, lighting, etc.) it favors and how resistant it is to contamination. The states, provinces, and regions named are by no means the only places where the species is to found. They are places in which there have been numerous reports of findings. They are given here to give a general idea of the type of terrain and climate the species favors. In cases where ideal cultivation temperatures and growing conditions are not given much can be surmised by considering the environment in which that species thrives.

Psilocybe cubensis can be found in many parts of the United States, Mexico, Colombia, Australia, and even Southeastern Asia. It is usualy found growing on or near cow dung in pastures during warm rainy periods from February to November. There are several species of mushroom which occur on cow dung, but fortunately none of these bear much resemblance to the San Ysidro.

There are numerous toxic mushrooms growing around us. Some of these could be mistaken for some of the other psilocybin fungi mentioned in this guide. It is essential that the mushroom hunter learn to use an identification key. A key is a listing of the various features which will positively identify a given species. If a specimen does not confirm in every respect to the key, it must not be used. There are several excellent keys to be found on most library shelves. One that we recommend is "Keys to Genera of Higher Fungi" by R. Shaffer, 2nd ed. (1968) Published by the University of Michigan Biological Station at Ann Arbor. We also recommend a thorough reading of the most helpfull book "Poisonous and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms" by Richard and Karen Haard, available for $3.95 from Nature Study Institute, PO Box 2321, Bellingham, Washington 98225. It is further suggested that after identifying the specimen it should be brought to an expert mycologist to be absolutely certain of it's identity.

Many books on hallucinogenic mushrooms suggest a simple test for psilocybian species which involves breaking the flesh of the specimen and waiting about 30 minutes for a blueing reaction to take place. The blueing is due to the oxidization of indole based substances in the fungus. Although it is true that most of the psilocybin-bearing mushrooms will respond positively to this test, other species may do the same. The poisonous Eastwood Boletus blues upon exposure of the inner tissues to oxygen as well as does any psilocybin mushroom. Another test which is often given in mushroom manuals is treating the exposed tissues with Metol, a chemical used in photo developers. It hastens the blueing of psilocybin mushrooms, and supposedly one can do a blueing test with it in a few minutes that would otherwise take 30 minutes or more. Any mushroom, however, which contains indolic substances of any sort will respond positively to this test. Since indole-based amino acids such as tryptophan are found in most living organisms this test is rather useless.

There is actually no field test for psilocybin mushrooms. There is however, a relatively simple test for the presence of psilocin and psilocybin that can be carried out at home by anyone who has some familiarity with paper chromatography. The mushroom sample is dried, pulverized, and extracted into a small amount of unheated methanol by shaking for half an hour. After the debris in the methanol has settled the paper is spotted with the top fluid in a zone about 2mm. After treating the the spotting zone with water saturated butanol for about two hours, the solvent front 7-8 cm from the spotting zone would contain the psilocin and psilocybin if they were present in the specimen. After drying the paper with a hair dryer on warm, this outer zone is sprayed lightly with a saturated solution of p-dimethyl-aminobenzaldehyde in alcohol and then again with 1 N hydrochloric acid. The paper is then dried again as before. Where psilocybin is present a reddish color will develop. The presence of psilocin will be indicated by a blue-violet zone.

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