Several times every year, mushroom foragers, mycophiles and psychonauts around the country venture out into forests, urban parks, and even gardens to identify and harvest wild mushrooms. Some are usually after specific species of fungi called magic mushrooms. If you are new to the world of foraging, you may want to know where magic mushrooms grow to plan your trip appropriately.
If you are only getting into mycology, it’s easy to think of magic mushrooms as drugs cultivated in faraway lands and processed in makeshift labs in the mountains. But that is not the case with magic mushrooms.
Magic mushrooms can be found in most regions of the United States with suitable conditions. Psilocybin mushrooms grow even in urban areas. You can even find them near garbage or shooting out damp cracks on paths.
However, picking mushrooms growing on contaminated grounds is not a great idea. For one, some mushrooms are hyperaccumulators which means they absorb metals and other toxins present in the environment. As such, most foragers prefer hunting where magic mushrooms grow naturally.
What Are Magic Mushrooms?
Magic mushrooms, also known as psilocybin mushrooms, are species of macrofungi that contain psilocybin. Psilocybin is a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug that quickly turns into psilocin which causes mild altering effects when ingested.
There are over 144 known magic mushrooms, of which 116 belong to the Psilocybe genera. When consumed, these shrooms induce hallucinogenic trips characterized by intense colors, kaleidoscopic visions, and enhanced sensitivity.
Although experiences are highly subjective, they may also induce mystical states in which the consumer experiences unity with the universe, a more profound understanding of self, and spiritual enlightenment. But that’s not all.
Recent research into magic mushrooms suggests that they may have some health benefits. The potential health benefits of magic mushrooms include alleviating depression, anxiety, and smoking and alcohol addiction. However, more research into these benefits is still needed. Also, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration FDA hasn’t approved any magic mushrooms as a treatment.
Before we get into where psilocybe mushrooms grow in the United States, remember psilocybin and mushrooms that contain psilocybin and psilocin are Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act. Possessing and using magic mushrooms, whether grown or foraged from the wild, may carry some legal consequences.
However, some states have decriminalized or legalized magic mushrooms. So ensure you are aware of the laws in your jurisdiction. Now, where do magic mushrooms grow naturally in the U.S.?
Where Magic Mushrooms Grow In The Wild
According to research, about 22 species of magic mushrooms exist in the United States and Canada. These grow throughout the country, particularly in areas with suitable environmental conditions. Magic mushrooms often grow in damp and shaded habitats, including forests, meadows, and grasslands, and tend to thrive in areas with decaying organic matter, mulch, decomposing logs, or dung.
Before we get into the regions where you will most likely come across magic mushrooms, check out our guide on foraging for mushrooms safely in the U.S.
Here’s a breakdown of where magic mushrooms grow by region:
1. The Pacific Northwest
Using data from the wildlife and observation app iNaturalist, data scientists at moveBuddha found that The Pacific Northwest is “by far the best place in America to go looking for psychedelic mushrooms.” The study found that 15 of the top 25 cities in magic mushroom sightings are between the bay area and the Canadian border.
The Pacific Northwest region is known for its temperate climate with warm summers, mild winters, and enough rainfall, all perfect conditions for most mushroom species. Magic mushrooms can be found in the wilderness and urban landscaping with woodchips or decomposing wood.
Magic mushrooms in this region mainly begin to fruit at the end of the summer, after rain or heavy dew, although some species will appear sporadically through winter and spring. Species found in this area include Wavy Caps P.cyanescens, Gold Caps P. cubensis and Liberty Caps P. semilanceata, and P. azurescens.
These magic mushroom species can be found in the forests, mostly in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California.
2. South/ The Gulf Coast
Magic mushrooms are also abundant in the South, particularly in the forests along the Gulf Coast. Psilocybe mushrooms in this region thrive in sandy soil, grasslands, or manure-rich pastures.
Species such as P. cubensis and P. cyanescens can be found growing directly on cow dung and other decaying matter in the cattle pastures of South and East Texas. Magic mushrooms are also found in Tennessee, Mississippi and North Carolina forests.
Magic mushrooms in the South grow all year round if there is enough rainfall and humidity. However, they are most abundant after heavy rain.
3. The Midwest And The Northeast
Magic mushrooms are abundant in northern Ohio up through Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont. The forests of the Northeast, in particular, upstate New York, are rich in several species, including P. caerulipes and P. ovoideocystidiata.
The mushrooms in this region thrive in warm, humid, and damp conditions and are usually found on decaying logs and stumps or alongside streams and rivers. The best time to hunt for magic mushrooms in this region is June through November.
4. The Southwest
The desert and semi-arid conditions of states like New Mexico and Arizona may support several species, including P. azurescens. P. Mexicana and P. aztecorum in the region’s forested areas. However, pickings can be slim compared to other regions.
Other magic mushrooms in this region are Panaeolus cinctulus which is not very potent, and P. hopii. Mushrooms in the South West grow mainly from July to September.
Tips For Foraging Magic Mushrooms
If you are thinking of going foraging now that you know where magic mushrooms grow, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the laws in your jurisdiction. Some cities and states, including Oregon and Colorado, have decriminalized or legalized magic mushrooms, but they remain illegal federally.
Go with an experienced forager to accurately identify magic mushrooms. Some mushrooms have poisonous look-alikes, and there is no quick way to determine which is which. However, most psilocybin-containing mushrooms turn blue when bruised.
Want to learn more about mushroom hunting? Here’s our guide on how to forage for mushrooms safely.
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