Psilocybin Mushroom Facts

Magic mushrooms are among some of the most interesting organisms on the planet.

No, seriously. They are! Whether you’re interested in amateur microscopy, mycology, or taxonomy, not to mention any of the many areas of research in the medical, legal, and even anthropological fields, these fascinating fungi offer something to spark the curiosity of anyone with a willingness to learn and an excitement for the natural world around us.

If you’d like to learn more about any of the aforementioned fields, Quality Spores has plenty of resources for you to enjoy. You can learn about how to become an amateur microscopist, or more about the history of psilocybin, or even the leading psilocybin medical studies.

If you’re interested in learning about psilocybin laws, we’ve got you covered there too: check out our article Why Are Magic Mushroom Spores Legal to learn more about the legality of spores specifically. You can also check out this resource for more information about state-specific psilocybin spore laws.

However, in this article, we’re going to have a little bit more fun. We’re going to talk about a bunch of interesting facts about psilocybin mushrooms—10 of them, in fact. There’s so much to learn about these amazing organisms, and we hope that as you go through each bit of trivia here that you’ll find your imagination and “inner scientist” seriously entertained.

Let’s begin with something not everyone knows: there’s more than just one kind of magic mushroom. Way more, in fact…

Fact #1: “Magic Mushroom” Usually Refers to Psilocybe Cubensis, But There Are Other “Magical” Fungi Out There

Amanita muscaria magic mushrooms
Amanita muscaria

The psychoactive compound psilocybin is what’s responsible for giving magic mushrooms their name—the “magic” part describes the psychoactive effects this compound can have, which to some advocates are quite desirable. The effects can range from hallucinations to feelings of euphoria, and for some, even deeply meaningful spiritual experiences.

When people talk about magic mushrooms, they’re usually referring to Psilocybe cubensis, one of the more popular and common variety of psilocybin-containing mushrooms. However, there are over 200 varities of mushrooms that contain psychoactive compounds, such as Psilocybe cyanescens or Amanita muscaria.

The latter, Amanita muscaria, is quite well known for its role in European fairy tales, though the mushroom grows in the wilds of North America as well. Its trademark red-and-white cap featured prominently in many Victorian era paintings, where the mushrooms were often pictured near faries.

Some even believe that the mushroom’s unique look is responsible for the similarly red-and-white clad appearance of Santa Claus, since some breeds of reindeer in chilly Siberia are known to seek out the fungi as a snack. While this author isn’t quite sure about Santa Claus, we do know is that Amanita muscaria is the direct inspiration for the famous “super mushroom” power ups in the beloved Mario video game franchise.

One can’t help but wonder how other varieties of psychoactive mushrooms might have influenced society.

For now, however, let’s move on to our next psilocybin mushroom fact: that some of these organisms have the incredible ability to create their own source of wind. Does that sound too fantastical to be true? Read on to find out why they do it and how it works!

Fact #2: To Solve a Unique Problem, Some Species of Magic Mushroom Can Create Wind

Our staff at Quality Spores are experts on the topic of psilocybin mushroom spores—so you know a discovery about spores that can surprise even folks like us must be truly amazing.

One such discovery was made at the 2013 American Physical Society’s Division of Fluid Dynamics, which took place on November 25th in Pittsburgh. Research presented by mycologists showed compelling evidence that some mushrooms can, in fact, create their own source of wind. But why would they want to do that?

You see, mushrooms have a problem: they often live on the very floor of a forest, where the underbrush can be quite dense. Maybe they live underneath a log, or down in a marshy ravine. Great places for moisture, which mushrooms love, but not so great for air flow… which, as it turns out, is pretty important for mushroom reproduction.

A mushroom is held upside-down to display its gills where magic mushroom spores might be harvested from
The gills of a wild mushroom, where spores are produced. But what if there’s no wind to carry the spores away? Mushrooms are “smart” enough to have come up with an ingenious solution.

If you read our article Why Are Magic Mushroom Spores Legal?, you learned about how mushrooms produce spores from their gills. Once the spores are released, they’re carried away by the wind (sometimes just a few inches, and sometimes miles) to a place where, hopefully, the spores can manage to germinate, grow into a flourishing mycelium colony, and later produce more wild mushrooms.

Now you must realize the problem faced by mushrooms: if there’s not enough wind, their spores can’t float away, and their chances of successful reproduction are reduced. So, what’s a mushroom to do in the still air of the forest floor? Why, create it’s own wind, of course!

Here’s how some species were shown to do it during the fluid dynamics conference: rather than absorbing some of the moisture which has accumulated on them (such as morning dew, or the remains of rainfall), mushrooms have the ability to “choose” to let it evaporate instead. In addition to cooling down mushrooms in warm climates, evaporation cools the air around the mushroom as well.

Since cold air is denser the warm air, it has a tendency to flow outward. Evaporation also causes water vapor to appear, which is less dense than air. Combine cold air with water vapor and you get a little bit of a “lift,” which is often enough to carry spores as far as four inches. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re a mushroom looking to spread your spores, it’s far enough.

If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating process, please see this article published in Scientific American.

Fact #3: Humans and Mushrooms Have Had an Important Relationship for Thousands of Years

If you haven’t already, please read our article Mushrooms and Humanity, where you’ll get a much closer look at the history of psychoactive mushrooms and how humans have interacted with them for well over ten thousand years—and likely even longer than that.

The fact of the matter is, even the most well-researched anthropologists and historians aren’t sure when humans first started interacting with psilocybin mushrooms, but we do know that some of the earliest examples are found in Africa, many of which date back at least several thousand years.

For example, researchers have discovered rock art in the Sahara desert, perhaps having been created as far back as some 9,000 years ago.

Saharan rock art depicting two dancers carrying psilocybin mushrooms

Pictured is an example of Saharan rock art which researchers believe depicts human dancers celebrating and carrying what appear to be psychoactive mushrooms. However, some have been quick to note the dancer’s distinctly alien appearance.

Rock art is thought to be among the first generation-spanning forms of communication between humans—its efficacy cannot be denied, as here we are millennia later discussing the works of pre-literate cultures (on a thing called the internet no less!). Depictions in Saharan rock art of what are unmistakably mushrooms give us a unique glimpse into the culture, art, and spiritual practices of the people who first painted them.

In some paintings, people are pictured holding mushrooms and dancing. In others, strange, godlike creatures are covered in mushrooms and stand, gazing upon what may have been their adherents. What these effigies make clear is that the adoration and ritual use of magic mushrooms has been going on for a very, very long time.

Fact #4: Psilocybin Research is Picking Up Again After a Long, Long Downtime

In our article Psilocybin Benefits, we discuss at some length the reasons for which psilocybin research in the academic and medical communities more or less came to a complete standstill in the 1960s.

The long and short of it is that after researchers like Dr. Timothy Leary and others brought mainstream attention to psilocybin—ultimately losing his professorship at Harvard as a result of having done so—the United States government classified the compound as a Schedule I substance in 1968.

A few years later, the United Nations followed suit and demanded member countries to prohibit psilocybin. This caused the majority of western nations to outlaw psilocybin and so-called magic mushrooms. It is worth noting that psilocybin mushroom spores are legal in all but three states in the U.S., and several cities have decriminalized personal possession of psilocybin. You can learn more in our article Are Magic Mushroom Spores Legal in My State?

These legal actions resulted in psilocybin research more or less coming to a complete standstill until the 1990s, where a few cautious researchers started looking into it again. Thanks to their pioneering efforts, the past decade has seen a marked increase in the number (and promise) of psilocybin research. Let’s take a look at some of those developments now:

Fact #5: The 2017 Global Drug Survey Found That Psilocybin to Be Among the Least Harmful Substances in Popular Use

For being such an oft-maligned “drug,” at least legally speaking, it turns out that psilocybin is the least harmful drug in popular use, according to this Global Drug Survey report (mobile or bandwidth-restricted readers take note that the preceding link goes to a rather sizable PDF, but it is well worth reading if you’re interested in this topic). Yes, the 2017 report found that psilocybin is less harmful than even cannabis.

Fact #6: Some Researchers Believe That Psilocybin Might Be an Effective Treatment For Addiction, Including From Nicotine and Alcohol

Not only is it at the bottom of the list mentioned in the previous section, research has indicated that psilocybin may be an effective treatment for addiction to other drugs—ones that are actually harmful, like nicotine or alcohol. In the case of nicotine, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that the abstinence rate for smokers who participated in a trial was as high as 80% after six months, which is vastly more successful than traditional cessation methods.

Fact #7: Advanced-Stage Cancer Patients Treated With Psilocybin Experience Reduced Stress & Anxiety

Another Johns Hopkins study found that in patients with advanced-stage cancer, psilocybin may be a highly effective treatment for associated mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. One can easily sympathize with how a person facing their own mortality would have such feelings. Chronic depression and anxiety can even exacerbate an already bad situation.

However, patients who were given psilocybin treatments presented rather conclusively that the compound was capable of reducing these feelings to more manageable levels, increasing the comfort of the patient.

Fact #8: Some Municipalities Have Decriminalized Psilocybin and Other Plant or Fungi Derived Psychoactive Compounds

Oakland, California, where psilocybin was decriminalized

Oakland, California was the second city in the United States to decriminalize psilocybin. Following in Denver, Colorado’s footsteps, the city council voted unanimously to decriminalize personal amounts of the compound. Just a year later, Santa Cruz, also in California, did the same.

The cities of Denver, Oakland, and Santa Cruz have all decriminalized psilocybin. In the case of the latter two California cities, the city council voted unanimously to do so—a very positive note for advocates of the naturally-occurring compound. Readers are, however, encouraged to note that there’s a big difference between the terms “decriminalized” and “legalized,” which we explain in detail in our post Are Magic Mushrooms Legal in My State?

Fact #9: Psilocybin Mushrooms Are Illegal, But Psilocybin Mushroom Spores Are Not

As we discuss in our post Why Are Magic Mushroom Spores Legal?, in most states it’s perfectly legal to own psilocybin mushroom spores—the spores specifically, not the mature mushrooms. There are a variety of factors for this, but it basically comes down to the fact that magic mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin or psilocin, which are illegal.

No laws are broken unless the mushrooms are cultivated, which shouldn’t be a problem for anyone using them exclusively for amateur microscopy or taxonomy purposes. You can even order magic mushroom spores online:

Fact #10: You Can Buy Psilocybin Mushroom Spores Online

Psilocybin mushroom spores are legal in 47 of the 50 states. If you live in one of the states where psilocybin mushroom spores are legal, and you plan on only using them for microscopy, taxonomy, or other law-abiding research purposes, Quality Spores would be more than happy to ship them directly to your doorstep!

Please feel free to shop all of our high quality psilocybin mushroom spore syringes.

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