How to Identify Magic Mushrooms

Wondering how to identify magic mushrooms? Studying mushrooms and their spores can add some fun to your journey into the world of microscopy and mycological research — but how can you identify magic mushrooms in the wild?

There are over 14,000 known species of mushrooms. Mycologists suspect this is only a fraction of what’s out there. Of these identified mushrooms, over 100 species are poisonous, with a few known to cause death when consumed.

Many of those poisonous mushrooms bear an unfortunate resemblance to edible and magic mushrooms, making them even more dangerous. This shows the importance of accurately identifying magic mushrooms. 

We recommend that you study magic mushroom varieties very closely as some may have poisonous “look-alikes,” and, no matter what type of mushroom it is, to not consume a mushroom unless you are 100% sure it is safe and legal.

Is Magic Mushroom Foraging Legal In The USA?

Before you start foraging for magic mushrooms, ensure you understand the local laws on the possession of psilocybes. Federally, magic mushrooms are illegal as they contain psilocybin, a schedule 1 substance.

However, some states have relaxed laws on the possession and use of magic mushrooms — with some jurisdictions even decriminalizing psilocybin mushrooms! On the other hand, mushroom spores can be legally purchased for mycological research from online stores such as PNW Spore Co.

While you may legally possess mushroom spores in some U.S. state jurisdictions, growing them may be illegal and you may be charged with possessing a controlled substance. The same goes for fresh and dried magic mushrooms.

Ensure you have a firm understanding of the local laws before handling mushrooms in the wild, even for identification purposes. Wondering if you can buy mushroom spores legally in the USA? Here is a more detailed post on the legality of mushrooms in the USA.

How To Identify Magic Mushrooms In The Wild

There are numerous guides available to help distinguish safe, edible magic mushrooms from the poisonous and inedible species. There are several types of psilocybin-containing mushrooms, but the most potent belong to the Psilocybe genus.

So how can you identify magic mushrooms in the wild? 

Experts use several features to identify psilocybe mushrooms, including gill structure, spore color, a gelatinous pellicle over the cap, blue bruising, among others. 

Here are more details on the features used to identify magic mushrooms in the wild.

1. They turn blue – Most Psilocybe mushrooms turn blue when injured. Research suggests that this blue pigment is a mixture of compounds that form when psilocybin – the chemical responsible for the psychedelic effects of shrooms, breaks down.

The presence of blue bruising may indicate the presence of psilocybin which is contained in magic mushrooms. However, some species of magic mushrooms don’t bruise blue despite containing psilocybin. Other mushrooms, such as Deconica species, may bruise blue or blackish, meaning you shouldn’t use this as the only feature to identify magic mushrooms.

2. Caps – All Psilocybes feature a smooth cap that is often sticky. Magic mushroom caps come in all manner of colors, sizes, and shapes. Caps come in different shades of brown, from light brown to dark brown with blue tinges.

Shapes of caps also differ between species, such as Psilocybe cyanescens having “wavy caps,” Psilocybe Mexicana having large, bell-shaped caps, and Psilocybe azurescens having saucer-like caps hence the nickname “flying saucer mushroom.”

But what sets psilocybe mushrooms from other species is the separable gelatinous pellicle that covers the cap. You can peel this gelatinous layer off the cap in psilocybe mushrooms.

3. Stems – The texture of the stem matters. Psilocybe stems tend to be tough and fibrous, so when identifying magic mushrooms, you should be able to wrap the stem around your little finger without snapping.

4. Gills – Mushroom gills are thin papery structures attached to the underside of the cap. They are a means of spore dispersal and are important for mushroom identification. You can identify magic mushrooms by how the gills are connected to the stem, the color, crowding, and the shape of the gills. 

5. Spore prints – Mushroom spores are microscopic reproduction units that can grow into magic mushrooms under the right conditions. These spores also play an important role in species identification. 

You can make spore prints by taking the mushroom cap, placing it on a flat piece of paper or glass with the gills facing down, cover with a bowl or cup, and leaving it there for 12 – 24 hours.

Psilocybe species have purple-black spore prints. Poisonous look-alikes such as the Galerina species have rust-brown spores. 

Other Ways To Identify Magic Mushrooms

While the physical features of a mushroom may be used to identify it accurately, there are other skills that can make the process easier. For example, knowing where and when magic mushrooms grow is an essential identification skill.

Some species require specific conditions to grow, some require particular substrates – for example, coprophilous grow on dung, while others flourish on certain types of trees only.

Some magic mushroom species only do well in certain climates. So knowing where and when to search for mushrooms may help you find and identify the desired species much more quickly.

Get Started On Your Mycology Journey With High-Quality Mushroom Spores

Now that you know how to identify magic mushrooms in the wild, you’re ready to start your journey into the exciting fields of microscopy and mycology with high-quality spore syringes from PNW Spore Co.

At PNW Spore Co., we offer high-quality P. cubensis spores online for microscopy research only. Order high-quality spores from premium species – including Costa Rica, Penis Envy, and Nepal, Chitwan – and enjoy great prices, unbeatable deals, fast shipping and an excellent shopping experience! 

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