Welcome to part two of our three part series on how to become an amateur microscopist and welcome to the field of Ethnopharmacology, specifically in the study of psilocybe mushroom spores. In part one, we talked at length about why this is such a rewarding hobby, the kind of equipment you need to get started, and why mushroom spores are such fascinating specimens to study.

In this installment of the series, we’re going to go a little more into depth on mushroom spores themselves, colloquially called mushroom spores, particularly those from the psilocybe genus of mushrooms, known for their psychoactive properties at maturity in the wild. You’ll learn about why these spores are so interesting, important legal considerations you need to take into account before acquiring and studying them, and more.

Let’s get started with a big question: what’s so great about studying psilocybe mushroom spores instead of “regular” mushroom spores?

Why Study Psilocybe Mushroom Spores Instead of the Spores of Non-Psychoactive Mushrooms?

Two mushrooms with wide, red-tinged caps

The answer to this question is complicated, because every amateur microscopist you ask will likely have a different answer—but let’s take a stab at it anyway.

First, it’s important to recognize that there’s no reason you can’t study “regular” spores in addition to exotic spores from the psilocybe genus. In fact, it would likely only help to improve your taxonomy skills. While our specialty here at Quality Spores are psilocybe mushroom spores, we do carry a handful of medicinal mushroom spores for mushroom therapy benefits.

Most amateur microscopists study all kinds of things under their microscope, not just mushroom spores. As we pointed out in part one of our microscopy equipment for studying psilocybe cubensis spores blog post on taxonomy you can study just about anything you want under a microscope, and many wonderful specimens can be found right in your back yard.

Having said that, most amateur microscopists reach a level of skill and curiosity over the course of enjoying the hobby where they want to study something out of the ordinary that offers plenty of taxonomical opportunities. With the many, many different strains of psilocybe mushroom spores available throughout the world, this particular type of mushroom spore offers countless educational opportunities.

We’ll return to that general idea in a moment, but let’s pause for a second to develop an understanding of the legal responsibilities necessary to understand for anyone interested in studying or otherwise handling psilocybe mushroom spores.

Amateur Microscopists Interested in Studying Psilocybe Mushroom Spores and Ethnopharmacology Must Understand These Legal Considerations

If you’re completely new to the idea of Ethnopharmacology and in studying psilocybe mushroom spores, you might be scratching your head a little. Aren’t so-called mushrooms” illegal?

Yes, for the most part, you’d be right. Cultivating and in most cases possessing psilocybe mushrooms is illegal in the United States, with the exception of New Mexico (with important caveats). There have also been several successful decriminalization efforts in places like Denver, Colorado and other municipalities, though it’s worth noting that decriminalized doesn’t mean “not illegal.”

Psilocybe mushroom spores, the spores specifically, aren’t illegal, because at this stage of fungal development, no psilocybe is present in the organism. It’s not until the fungus develops into mycelium and a mature fruiting body (mushroom) that psilocybe can be detected. Therefore, mushroom spores are legal in most of the United States, with the exception of California, Idaho, and Georgia.

Even though the spores we carry are all authentic and viable, with proper handling, there is practically zero risk of “accidentally” cultivating psilocybe mushrooms from spores.

We strongly recommend brushing up on your local regional laws concerning psilocybe mushroom spores before studying them! To make things easier, we’ve prepared two detailed informational resources for you:

So, let’s wind back a little to what we were talking about before. There are many reasons aside from taxonomy that so many amateur microscopists take such great pleasure in studying psilocybe mushroom spores—for example, being able to see the earliest stage of development of a psychoactive mushroom can offer some very unique educational opportunities…

Psilocybe Mushroom Spores Are a Unique Window Into the World of Ethnopharmacology

Even Though Psilocybe Mushroom Spores Contain No Psilocybe, It’s Still Interesting to See the Origin of Psychoactive Mushrooms for These Reasons

Even though psilocybe mushroom spores contain no psilocybe themselves, they are the forebears to the mature mushrooms that we’ve all heard of in popular culture for decades. This alone makes them interesting to study.

A large grouping of mushrooms with concave caps and exposed gills

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGY: Studying psilocybe mushroom spores is also a hands-on way to get a unique view into the study of ethnopharmacology, which is the study of how people use plants, animals, minerals, and fungi as medicinal substances, theraputic treatments, and indigenous remedies. Ethnopharmacology can be thought of as a subsection of ethnobiology, which is the overarching science of how humanity interacts with other living creatures.

Psilocybe, as you may already know, has historically been used (and is still used to this day) as an entheogen, which refers to any psychoactive substance used for the purpose of spiritual development or an otherwise sacred experience. Cultures across the world spanning thousands of years have used psilocybe to deepen their own spirituality and understandings of the metaphysical.

You can learn more about how people and mushrooms have long interacted with one another in our main blog or start at the beginning of the mushroom spores story.

Continue to Part 3 to Learn About Psychedelic Therapy and Mushroom Spores for Beginners and More

Now that we have a solid understanding of what you need to become an amateur microscopist and why studying psilocybe mushroom spores is so rewarding, it’s time to actually get started with your research on special therapy.

In part three of this series, we’ll talk about modern psilocybe research and what that means for you as an amateur microscopist and discuss in great detail which psilocybe mushroom spores are best for beginners. See you there!