There are over 200 species of magic mushrooms that are spread all over the world. These different species don’t grow under the same condition, so you cannot expect to find them all in one place. They are scattered in different countries and sprout at different times of the year.
What set magic mushrooms apart from so many kinds of mushrooms is their psilocybin content. Psilocybin is a chemical compound that turns into psilocin when metabolized by the body. These chemicals have psychoactive or psychedelic effects that can trigger euphoria and out-of-body experiences by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain. Their effects are can be compared and are similar to that of LSD, but many prefer to use magic mushrooms because they are natural, not to mention, more affordable.
Being able to identify the various species of mushrooms is a useful skill for those who wish to go mushroom hunting, but even more so for those who pick and use magic mushrooms. Many species of a mushroom look alike. There are some with very miniscule differentiating characteristics that it is very easy to mistake one for the other. For people who hunt and consume mushrooms especially for the purpose of ingesting them, these minuscule differences can mean life or death. You cannot underestimate the effects of poisonous mushrooms. Some of them can cause minor discomforts when taken accidentally but there are plenty of others that can put you in serious danger.
What do they look like?
In order to identify magic mushrooms, you must first know the characteristics that are common to the species. To do this, you need to figure out the genus they belong to. Most psilocybin-containing mushrooms are part of the Psilocybe genus. Their shared attributes are their gilled caps, their purple-brown spore prints, and the bluish stain they produce when bruised. While learning and knowing their similar attributes is already a big help, it is still imperative that you also learn the unique and individual characteristics of the diverse species belonging to the genus. A mushroom-hunting guide can help you immensely with this.
Where do they grow?
Another thing you have to be acquainted with is where these mushrooms grow. The assortment of psychedelic mushrooms favors different habitats. Some of them grow in grassy meadows and forests, others grow along the coast and in sand dunes, some prefer to sprout along roadside trails and garden mulches, while others flourish in cow manure. Familiarizing yourself with where these mushrooms grow can save you from the risk of misidentifying them.
When do they grow?
Although magic mushrooms grow all year round, in general, some species only sprout on certain months. There are mushrooms that grow right before the hottest terms of the year while there are others that are abundant after the rainy periods. They thrive in dark, humid, and consistently damp environments.
If you’re wondering when the best time of the year for mushroom picking is, it is during autumn. Many varieties of psychedelic mushrooms lavishly flower during the season.
What are the methods of identifying them?
In times of uncertainty, you can opt to take photos of the mushroom you find during your hunt and upload it on Internet sites and forums where there is a concentration of people whose knowledge can shed a light. Many members who frequent these pages have information to share. Ask for their opinion.
Perhaps the most important way of identifying and distinguishing magic mushrooms is taking their spore prints. To take a spore sprint, all you have to do is sever the mushroom cap from the stem and place it on a piece of paper, facing downwards. The mushroom will leave a visible print on the paper after 30 or so minutes. If the spore print is a purplish brown and all the other physical attributes match, then it should be of the Psilocybe genus.
There is, of course, the trickier process of checking and analyzing the mushroom strains. This, however, requires extensive knowledge in the nature of mushrooms and more advanced equipment.
Things to Note
The popularity of magic mushrooms these days sometimes makes people forget the fact that they are illegal in most countries. Before going picking, find out what the law in your area says about psilocybin mushrooms and the ensuing consequences. In countries like the U.S and Canada, fresh or raw magic mushrooms are allowed.
As much as possible, do not go hunting for magic mushrooms alone. Take someone with you. Preferably one who has more than amateur knowledge about the fungi. Two heads are always better than one.
Magic mushrooms have been a part of human history. Our ancestors have used them and benefited from their positive effects; you can too. Control is key. When used cautiously, psychedelic mushrooms can give you the “trip” of your life.