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ISSN 1941-4943 Volume 4 - No. 3: Summer 2011 $8.00 ISSN 1941-4943 9 01>

ISSN 1941-4943 Volume 4 - No. 3: Summer 2011


ISSN 1941-4943


01> 771941 494005

The history, the lore, the science

of Psilocybe




C alendar 2011 Mushroaming Tibetan Tours July 31–Aug 13, 2011 Summer Fungal & Floral Foray

C alendar

2011 Mushroaming

Tibetan Tours

July 31–Aug 13, 2011 Summer Fungal & Floral Foray

See ad in this issue or

2011 Eagle Hill and Humboldt

Institute Seminars & Workshops Steuben, Maine For information see nhs-calendar.shtml.

79th Mycological Society of America Annual Meeting University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK August 1–6, 2011 For information see

51st Annual NAMA Foray Clarion, PA August 4–7, 2011 Hosted by the Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club. For information see

35th Annual NEMF Foray:

The Samuel Ristich Foray Paul Smith’s College, Paul Smith’s, NY August 11–14, 2011 For information, see

31st Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival Telluride, CO August 18–21, 2011 For information, see or this issue of FUNGI.

2011 Foray Newfoundland

and Labrador Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland, Canada September 9–11, 2011 For information, see

7th International Congress on Systematics & Ecology of Myxomycetes (ICSEM7) Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil September 10–17, 2011 The congress will feature mini- courses, posters, and PowerPoint presentations on topics related to the systematics and ecology of Myxomycetes and Protostelids. A website will be available in the near future. Please direct inquiries to:

7th Annual Sicamous Fungi Festival Sicamous, BC, Canada September 18–25, 2011 For information, see

10th Annual Texas Mushroom Festival Madisonville, TX October 21–22, 2011 Gala dinner Friday; Festival on Saturday. This is a big one, folks, more than 15,000 attended in 2010! For information, see www. or future issues of FUNGI.

25th Annual Breitenbush Mushroom Gathering Detroit, OR October 20–23, 2011 For information, contact or www. or see ad in this issue of FUNGI.

or www. or see ad in this issue of FUNGI. On the cover: Original photo

On the cover: Original photo by R. White with creative enhancement by T. Orin Moshier.

C ontents


















Editor’s Letter, Britt Bunyard

Letters to the Editor

The GenusPsilocybe

in North America, Michael W. Beug

The Legal Status of Psilocybin or Psilocin Containing Fungi, Jack Silver

Psilocybin – Its Use and Meaning, Gary Lincoff

Notes from Underground, David Rose

Psilocybin – History,

Michael W. Beug

Magic Mushrooms and Allowed Use Abroad, William Harrison

Psilocybe 101, Britt Bunyard,

Photos by P. Stamets, M. Beug, A. Rockefeller & J.Hutchins

Family Trees: A Mycolegium of Fungal Literature, Else C. Vellinga

Foray: 2010 Fungi Festival at Sicamous, BC, Kora Page Sauter

What Mushrooms Have Taught Me About the Meaning of Life, Nicholas P. Money

Swedish Mushrooms, Maria Jönsson

Mysterious Asian Beauty, J. Ginns & Lawrence Millman

The Wild Epicure, Albert J. Casciero

Bookshelf Fungi

Advertiser Listing

E ditor’s Letter

The Gods Within Mushrooms

“Mushrooms demonstrate, quite

convincingly, that gods are figments

of the hominid imagination


ingestion, psilocybin is converted into psilocin. Psilocin is remarkably similar in chemical structure to serotonin and when it reaches the brain it docks with serotonin receptors, upsets the normal functioning of the neocortex, and conjures angels from thin air.” -N. Money

W elcome to the FBI Watch

List. That’s right, by reading

this issue of fuNGi you

may be under suspicion of committing

a criminal act involving a “dangerous

drug.” Psilocybin-containing mushrooms

(and there are several species, not all of which are Psilocybe as you will see in this issue) are strictly forbidden by law in most countries. in the uSA they have Schedule i status, treated as the most dangerous of drugs to society. Schedule

i drugs are classified as having a high

potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use—even under medical supervision. other Schedule i drugs include heroin and marijuana. interestingly cocaine

and methamphetamine are Schedule ii drugs. Nicotine and ethyl alcohol are both highly poisonous and addictive to humans (and probably all other mammals) and obviously powerful drugs. Both are cheap

and readily available, almost universally. Nevertheless, the toll in human life and destroyed families attributed to those latter two drugs eclipses all the wars and famines and plagues that have been inflicted on humanity since the uS began making laws. Alas, psilocybin mushrooms remain completely banned… So, what is it about these little brown mushrooms that make them so taboo? it may seem incredible to most, but these little brown mushrooms are actually quite common throughout the year in North America. in our woods, meadows, flower beds, and lawns these mushrooms are growing and spreading their spores, as you read this. Right this minute! Dissemination of images and misinformation about Psilocybes is just as widespread on the Web. So, where does one turn to debunk the myths and get real science-based mycological information? Herein, we devote an entire issue to the science, lore, history, and beauty of this group of mushrooms. This is our largest issue ever! Hey, we have a lot of misinformation to undue and no other mycological journal out there is brave enough to even touch the subject. As a group, the psilocybin- containing mushrooms are quite diverse and successful evolutionarily as you will see in the pages that follow. i’m thrilled that world experts on the subject like Michael Beug, Gary Lincoff, Paul Stamets, and others have contributed to this issue. While we’re shattering taboos, the Wild Epicure offers up a popular dish from italy featuring a common summertime mushroom. in this case, it’s an Amanita.

summertime mushroom. in this case, it’s an Amanita. The Blusher ( Amanita rubescens ) is an

The Blusher (Amanita rubescens) is an easily identified, edible wild mushroom that, if you’ve not tasted you should give a try. As with many wild mushrooms you must be very sure of your iD (Lepiotas, Agaricus, Chanterelles, o yster mushrooms, and Boletes ALL have poisonous lookalikes). in his recipe, Albert Casciero uses a mint, Nepitella, called the herba da funghi (herb for fungi) by italians. My supply of it at home, dried, comes from Contributing Editor Mike Wood, who has it growing behind his home in the hills overlooking oakland, California. This spring, while cooking morels at my home in Wisconsin, visitors from the Puget Sound Mycological Society, Milton and Reba tam asked if i’d any herba da funghi—Nepitellato go with the mushrooms. it was the first time i’d heard the term!

the mushrooms. it was the first time i’d heard the term! Fungi Pu BL i SHER
the mushrooms. it was the first time i’d heard the term! Fungi Pu BL i SHER


Pu BL i SHER & E D ito R-i N - CH i E f Britt A. Bunyard

P R o D u C tio N E D ito R Jan Hammond


CONTRIBUTING ILLUSTRATOR Aaron “i nkling” Cruz Garcia


Michael Beug Albert J. Casciero Aaron french Ken Litchfield Lawrence Millman

tobiah Moshier John Plischke, iii David Rose Elinoar Shavit Mark Spear

Steve trudell

James tunney

Debbie Viess

Else Vellinga

Michael Wood

P.o. Box 8, 1925 Hwy. 175 • Richfield, Wisconsin 53076-0008 uSA E-mail: • Web site: (262) 227-1243


Cathy Cripps Montana State university

Harold Keller The Botanical Research institute of texas

Lawrence M. Leonard, M.D. Humboldt Research institute Eagle Hill, Maine

Nicholas Money Miami university, oxford, ohio

Michael Nicholson oxnard College, California

Scott Redhead Agriculture Canada, o ttawa

Paul Stamets

fungi Perfecti

Andrus Voitk foray Newfoundland and Labrador Corner Brook, Newfoundland

Else Vellinga university of California, Berkeley

:':::'::'::: ':::'::18:21:2011
a presentation of the telluride institute

L etters to The Editor

L etters to The Editor Blue staining Psilocybes looking great on a blue background. Photo sent

Blue staining Psilocybes looking great on a blue background. Photo sent anonymously.

i enjoyed reading Denis Benjamin’s satirical article on Amanita muscaria in the Winter 2011 issue of fu NG i

(vol. 4, no. 1). i especially appreciated his enumeration of five different ways that one can die after eating Amanita muscaria. unfortunately, he missed one important potential cause of death. Consuming the mushroom outdoors in cold weather can and has led to death from hypothermia while in a deep coma- like sleep. Since the deep coma-like sleep is a common occurrence after eating Amanita muscaria, the dangers of eating this mushroom in cold weather should not be underestimated. Thus there are six modes of lethality involving Amanita muscaria, not just five and precisely half of the modes of lethality do not involve the helping hand of the police. furthermore, all of the modes of lethality except for gluttony apply to the mind-altering mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin. it appears that there is no lethal upper limit to the amount of psilocybin and psilocin

you can consume and thus gluttony is not a problem with Psilocybes. However, while under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms, you may encounter police who may shoot you, taser® you or

suffocate you using a restraint hold. You may instead suffocate yourself by choking on your vomit. finally, you may die of hypothermia if you consume psilocybin mushrooms out of doors in cold weather. The hypothermia threat comes not from a deep coma-like sleep, but from a complete loss of control of your limbs. Thus you can have the privilege of being initially conscious as you freeze to death, unable to get your limbs functioning to get you to safety. finally, while it has not been reported with Amanita muscaria , there has been more than one death from anaphylactic shock after consuming Psilocybe mushrooms. Thus both groups provide six ways to die. There is a serious problem with Amanita muscaria as a potential inebriant. Based on my review of hundreds of ingestion cases, i find that in nearly half of the reports i have received, there is no mention of any extraordinary visions. The person who has ingested the mushroom often goes straight to the vomiting and diarrhea and then into the deep coma-like sleep. There is no temporary chemical vacation, at least that he or she can remember. They do vividly remember the size of the hospital bill, assuming that they are unfortunate enough to have been hospitalized. i say unfortunate because they would generally survive the experience just fine on their own, assuming that they do not go berserk and run afoul of the police or die of hypothermia or inhalation of their vomitus. finally, i have to take issue with Denis Benjamin’s proposal for serving people properly cooked Amanita muscaria. While i have not tried the recently famous method of detoxifying cooked Amanita muscaria myself, i have talked to numerous people who have. They have all reported that the properly cooked mushrooms were rather soggy and bland. o ne can hardly make any real revenue running a restaurant cooking soggy, bland food. The analogy to fugu (blowfish) restaurants simply doesn’t work for me. What we need to do is to train chefs to properly prepare and serve raw Amanita muscaria, because that has both good flavor and good texture. Also, like fugu, there is a way to remove

4 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

most, but not all, of the toxin. After all, the excitement of eating fugu is that the chefs leave some of the toxin in the blowfish, not enough to paralyze you, but just enough to give the diner a good tingling sensation. i know how to do a similar thing with Amanita muscaria. But, as Denis so wisely advised in his article, i plan to keep my method secret so that i can profit from giving training courses to the many chefs who i am certain will rush forward to learn my secret technique. Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The Evergreen State College

P. o. Box 116

Husum, WA 98623 beugm@evergreen,ed

S hould the harvesting and selling of

wild mushrooms be regulated?”

The real reason i ’m writing is to

ask if i can copy and distribute to a few people, Denis Benjamin’s article, “Should the harvesting and selling of wild mushrooms be regulated?” This takes an interesting point of view (not too far from my own). i ’d like to distribute it to a few of the members on a state subcommittee investigating this very question in Washington. fred Rhoades Puget Sound Mycological Society

We got many requests for copies of this article by Denis Benjamin. If

anyone else is interested, please visit the FUNGI website where you will find

a downloadable / printable version

of Denis’s paper. Please feel free to


S pring FUNGI, minor error and


to the Editor:

it puts a smile on my face when i extract a new issue of fu NG i from my mailbox. it was great to see the picture that Glen Schwartz took in “ u nusual Sightings” for the spring issue (vol. 4, no. 2). o ne minor correction: We are the Prairie States Mushroom Club not Mycological Society. There was a mention of taking photos through a stereo microscope in the piece about the German publication

Der Tintling . i think the idea was hatched by birders a decade ago taking pictures through a spotting scope—a

a decade ago taking pictures through a spotting scope—a great way to capture and document rare
a decade ago taking pictures through a spotting scope—a great way to capture and document rare

great way to capture and document rare or unusual bird sightings. But why limit it to a stereo microscope? i ’ve taken shots through my compound microscope with good success. An inexpensive point and shoot is a great tool to document everything from macro to micro. i took these images (pictured) with an “old” Canon 520A with 4 megapixel. A slime mold through Dean Abel’s stereo scope and the other of a section taken from an Eyelash Cup through my compound scope at 400X. i went the extra step and turned a wooden sleeve on my lathe with some concentric bores; one to match the eyepiece diameter and the other to match the camera lens barrel diameter. There is also a step to space the camera as i have “high eyepoint” eyepieces. Helps with the alignment of the optics. i first focus the microscope and then let the camera auto focus. So simple! Roger Heidt Prairie States Mushroom Club

i have b een collecting and drying a local Psilocybe species

for several years. ( i now have plenty of them dried in my cupboard, although i have heard that they lose their potency with time.) Well, i finally got around to trying those Psilocybes; cooked up a few mushrooms after dinner last night. No effect after 45 minutes so i cooked up another few mushrooms. That worked! it was a very, very nice evening. Haven’t laughed so

much in a very, very long time. The view from my terrace was rather amazing! All kinds of colors and my room first got large then it got small… But what was really amazing was that i felt no knee pain and lower back pain for the first time in several years! to go on a mushroom

walk or just about any walking i need major pain killers (opiates). Lots of them and then i still feel pain when i walk. it was such a liberating experience last night. i was actually dancing around. i haven’t read very much of the literature regarding psilocybin and pain. i s this a common experience? Name withheld, New York City

Gary Lincoff responds: The mushroom in question, above (pictured, right), is Psilocybe “subaeruginascens,” which may actually be a recently described species, Psilocybe ovoideocystidiata. It’s not uncommon around here. The writer has been gathering and drying it for a few years. This letter is important because the writer is not a drug user. He drinks alcohol. Period. The pain relief he experienced is important here, of course. I think we’re on the edge of discovering a decidedly useful, socially approved, function of Psilocybe mushrooms. It’s still at an anecdotal

stage, but the evidence, such as it is, is mounting. Since this was an unsolicited testimonial from a naïve user – one who knew nothing of the on-going literature on the use of Psilocybe to control or reduce, even if only temporarily, pain that is otherwise untouched by standard medications – I think it deserves a place where it can be seen. I’ve heard conflicting reports about the value of psilocybin use for controlling the onset of cluster headaches or reducing their pain, but this is another example of using psilocybin – and deserves more attention. It might result in nothing new down the line, but we have to follow it down that line to know for sure. If I were in the kind of pain described in the letter, I’d be using psilocybin every time I go mushroom hunting. (I know some people probably think I’m ON psilocybin when I’m out mushroom hunting. I don’t go out of my way to disabuse them of that idea.) Cheers, Gary Photos courtesy G. Lincoff

go out of my way to disabuse them of that idea.) Cheers, Gary Photos courtesy G.
go out of my way to disabuse them of that idea.) Cheers, Gary Photos courtesy G.

FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011 5

The Genus Psilocybe in North America

by Michael W. Beug

Professor Emeritus, The Evergreen State College. P. o. Box 116, Husum, WA 98623,

t he genus Psilocybe is rather small, composed of mostly little brown non-descript

saprobic mushrooms that no one would normally give a second thought to except for the presence in some of a pair of very special indoles. Psilocybe was until fairly recently thought to be closely related to Stropharia and several members, including Psilocybe cubensis, have been moved back and forth between the two genera. However, current interpretation of DNA results shows that the Psilocybe genus is

caused considerable consternation with taxonomists because it means that whatever species are related to the type species for the genus will retain the name Psilocybe and the unrelated species will have to go into a new genus. The accepted type for Psilocybe , at least as i understood the situation, was a small non-descript moss- inhabiting species, Psilocybe montana (Pers.) P. Kumm 1871 , that does not produce psilocybin or psilocin ( fig. 1). That appeared to mean that all of the hallucinogenic mushrooms commonly

to mean that all of the hallucinogenic mushrooms commonly Figure 1. Psilocybe montana comprised of two

Figure 1. Psilocybe montana

comprised of two groups that are only distantly related to each other and both groups are only distantly related to Stropharia . o ne group of Psilocybe species produces the hallucinogen psilocybin (and usually also the closely related hallucinogen psilocin) and the other group does not. Both groups currently in the genus Psilocybe are actually much more closely related to Hypholoma and Pholiota than they are to Stropharia. The news that Psilocybe was composed of two only distantly related groups

known as psilocybes (sometimes simply “‘shrooms”) were going to need a new genus. fortunately a well-respected group of mycologists (Redhead et al., 2007) came to the rescue with a proposal to conserve the name Psilocybe with a conserved type. As of february 2010 (Norvel, 2010), it was official – the genus Psilocybe was conserved with Psilocybe semilanceata ( fr.) P. Kumm 1871 as the conserved type ( fig. 2). Psilocybe semilanceata is one of the hallucinogenic Psilocybe species, and

is one of the hallucinogenic Psilocybe species, and Figure 2. Psilocybe semilanceata a very potent one

Figure 2. Psilocybe semilanceata

a very potent one at that, averaging

around 1% by dry weight psilocybin, but more about that later. What

will happen to the nomenclature of

Psilocybe montana and its relatives is

a story yet to be told, and one about

which few will care. Most species of Psilocybe, hallucinogenic or not, are small and thin fleshed. All are saprobic – some on dung, some on woody debris, some on other plant remains, some on soil and others among mosses. The cap is smooth, often a bit viscid (slimy), sometimes with a few small appressed squamules (small scales) or veil remnants, colored whitish, ochraceous, grayish, buff, brown or red-brown, often hygrophanous (the color lightens to pale tan as the cap loses moisture, often starting in the center). Most of the hallucinogenic species bruise from slightly blue to intensely blue-black.

The spore prints are usually dark violet brown but in some non-hallucinogenic species can be reddish brown or ochraceous. Microscopically the spores are smooth, rather thick-walled, with

a germ pore. Cheilocystidia occur in

a range of shapes but pleurocystidia

are usually lacking and chrysocystidia

are absent. There are about 30 species in the united States and Canada and an additional 50+ species in Mexico

– with some of the Mexican species

appearing in f lorida and other tropical to subtropical parts of the united States (Guzmán, 2008).

i n the 1970s and 1980s when Paul Stamets, Jeremy Bigwood and i were doing our research on the

chemistry of these mushrooms and naming a new species and new variety, the large Psilocybe species (similar in size to Agaricus campestris or to the store-bought button mushrooms) were considered by some authors to belong in the genus Stropharia. o f these larger, meaty species there is one species of particular interest due to the presence of psilocybin and psilocin. That species is Psilocybe cubensis Earle (Singer) ( fig. 3) . it is a beautiful mushroom reaching

(Singer) ( fig. 3) . it is a beautiful mushroom reaching Figure 3. Psilocybe cubensis up

Figure 3. Psilocybe cubensis

up to 8 cm across. The cap can start out with an umbo and becomes first bell-shaped and then convex as it ages.

The cap is biscuit brown fading to pale tan as it dries out and has tiny whitish scales. There is a partial veil leaving a distinct ring on the off-white stipe. All parts bruise blue. i n the united States it is found in the wild throughout the Southeast and in texas and Hawaii. it is common in Mexico. its habitat is on well-manured ground and on dung – and that can be the dung of cattle, oxen, yaks, water buffalo, horses or elephants. This is a truly widespread tropical species fruiting spring, summer and fall. Psilocybe subcubensis is a highly similar tropical species and though reported

Breitenbush Mushroom Gathering October 20-23, 2011 Eastern European Mushroom Traditions Alexander Viazmensky, mushroom
Breitenbush Mushroom
October 20-23, 2011
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Alexander Viazmensky, mushroom artist from
St. Petersburg will teach watercolor painting
Chef Michasia Pawluskiewicz will lead the
mushroom culinary workshop
Cost: $175 plus lodging
Registration: Breitenbush 503.854.3320

Featured Speakers: Dr. Denis Benjamin, Daniel Winkler, Debbie Viess

from California, it was probably the result of an outdoor growing operation (Stamets, 1996). i have even found Psilocybe cubensis outdoors in the summer near o lympia, Washington, but again it was undoubtedly the brief result of someone having planted a spawn bed there. for illicit cultivators, Psilocybe cubensis is generally the mushroom of choice since it is easy to grow and produces a significant amount of biomass with each flush (Stamets and Chilton, 1983). Jeremy Bigwood and i devoted considerable effort to trying to understand when the indoles psilocybin and psilocin were produced, if the chemicals of interest were concentrated in any one part of the mushroom, and whether or not there was much variation from one stain of this species to another (Bigwood and Beug, 1982). Jeremy had a phenomenal knack for obtaining street samples of Psilocybe cubensis and as coauthor (under a pseudonym) of an early cultivation guide ( oss and o eric, 1976) had considerable cultivation experience as well. His connections with leading DEA authorities smoothed the way for approval of my drug research application. o ur finding with Psilocybe cubensis was that the chemicals psilocybin and psilocin were reasonably evenly distributed throughout the mushrooms. With the exceptionally potent Peruvian strain we were working with, the levels varied by a factor of four from one growing session to another growing session and even from one flush to the next. o f even more concern was the observation that in collections from the street, levels varied by a factor of 10 from one collection to the next. We found levels of psilocybin plus psilocin combined varying from 0.1% by dry weight up to 0.6-0.8%, even a staggering 1.4% in one case from our especially potent cultivated strain. i ndividuals who choose to ignore the steep penalties for use of psilocybin or psilocin (it is a Class i Drug, with possession treated similar to possession of heroin or cocaine), and choose to use this mushroom do not have any practical way of knowing how strong the effects of Psilocybe cubensis are likely to be. While it is a good presumption that cultivated material will have about 0.5% active material by dry weight and

material collected in the wild will have about 0.2 to 0.3% active material, many collections will be much less potent and a few collections will be twice as potent as one might have assumed.

with an inrolled corrugated margin reminiscent of Psilocybe baeocystis. The bluing reaction is very strong and the psilocybin plus psilocin content is nearly 0.9 % with 0.05% baeocystin and some tryptophan present as well. Psilocybe caerulescens Murrill is another species that seems to prefer disturbed or cultivated ground often without herbaceous plants present. Psilocybe caerulescens Murrill can also be found on sugar cane residues and tends to grow in clusters. While it was first found in Montgomery, Alabama, it is currently only known from Mexico

Montgomery, Alabama, it is currently only known from Mexico Figures 4 (above) & 5a (below). Two
Montgomery, Alabama, it is currently only known from Mexico Figures 4 (above) & 5a (below). Two

Figures 4 (above) & 5a (below). Two watercolors of Psilocybe caerulescens by Roger Heim

Two watercolors of Psilocybe caerulescens by Roger Heim Psilocybe weilii Guzmán, tapia & Stamets is a

Psilocybe weilii Guzmán, tapia & Stamets is a medium (2-6 cm broad) semitropical species so far reported only from Georgia where it is found on red clay soil near both loblolly pine ( Pinus taeda ) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua). Psilocybe weilii has caps

Figure 6. Psilocybe hoogshagenii is the illustration labeled Psilocybe zapotecorum in another watercolor by Roger Heim

where it is most commonly found on muddy orangish brown soils. Psilocybe caerulescens is quite potent and is the mushroom that R. Gordon Wasson consumed in Mexico, as reported in a famous Life magazine article (Wasson, 1957). Watercolor illustrations of two varieties of Psilocybe caerulescens

( figures 4 and 5a) appeared in that famous Life magazine article. The watercolors were all done by Roger Heim, a french mycologist who accompanied Wasson on some of his

exploration trips to Mexico. Psilocybe hoogshagenii Heim sensu lato (= Psilocybe zapotecorum Heim sensu Singer) also grows in muddy clay soils of Mexico, but very far south in subtropical coffee plantations. Specimens from Brazil were found to contain 0.6% combined psilocybin plus psilocin (Stijve and de Meijer, 1993). it can fruit in massive abundance in the coffee plantations of Central and South America. Psilocybe hoogshagenii is the illustration labeled Psilocybe zapotecorum (figure 6) in the Life magazine article (Wasson, 1957). Confusingly, Psilocybe zapotecorum Heim emend Guzmán is also a hallucinogenic species found in coffee plantations as well as in marshy deciduous forests. However, Psilocybe zapotecorum Heim emend Guzmán does not look much like the mushroom with

that name illustrated in the Life magazine article but instead looks much like Psilocybe caerulescens var. mazatecorum

( figure 5a) , and indeed is frequently

confused with Psilocybe caerulescens (Stamets, 1996). Psilocybe zapotecorum is one of the most prized of the hallucinogenic mushrooms of Mexico as it can be up to 1.3% psilocybin plus psilocin (Stijve and de Meijer, 1993). it is

psilocybin plus psilocin (Stijve and de Meijer, 1993). it is Figure 5b. Psilocybe caerulescens var. mazatecorum.

Figure 5b. Psilocybe caerulescens var. mazatecorum. Photo courtesy of A. Rockefeller.

typically cespitose to gregarious, rarely scattered and like many of the Mexican Psilocybe species, it is frequently found in steep ravines on exposed soils. its appearance is reminiscent of a large Psilocybe caerulescens var. mazatecorum that is particularly convoluted and with

an asymmetrical cap (see figure 5b and additional photos elsewhere in this issue). Psilocybe muliericula Singer and Smith is another bluing Mexican species found on muddy or swampy soils. Psilocybe muliericula is found in the state of Mexico under Abies and Pinus . The french mycologist Heim had planned to name this species Psilocybe wassonii but Rolf Singer and Alex Smith, using Heim and Wasson’s contacts, published their name 24 days ahead of Heim’s planned publication (Stamets, 1996). i came to be very aware of the resultant rift between Wasson and Smith because Alex Smith collaborated with Paul Stamets. Alex was enamored of the spectacular Scanning Electron Microscope images that Paul was taking at The Evergreen State College. Another of my students, Jonathan o tt, became a close associate of R. Gordon Wasson. two of the Mexican Psilocybe species are characterized by having a long pseudorhiza – a root-like extension of the stipe going into the ground. o ne of these species is the rare Psilocybe wassoniorum Guzmán and Pollock, named in honor of R. Gordon Wasson and his wife Valentina. Psilocybe wassoniorum is found solitary or in small groups

in subtropical deciduous forests. it is known to be active but is of unknown potency. Psilocybe herrerae Guzmán has an extremely long stipe and a very long pseudorhiza. Psilocybe herrerae is moderately active. it is found in Chiapas and Veracruz, Mexico solitary to

gregarious in open forests of pines, sweetgums, and oaks.

exactly which species can be found there is still somewhat unclear as most seekers of hallucinogenic species in that region seek out Psilocybe cubensis. o ne known tropical species that is also found in f lorida is Psilocybe mammillata (Murrill) Smith – the classical bluing reaction is a clue to the presence of psilocybin and psilocin, but the species has not been quantitatively analyzed and i know of no experimental use of this species. it is found in soils rich in woody debris and sometimes on clay soils. Psilocybe tampanensis is found in f lorida and Mississippi but is quite rare in the wild so its preferred habitat is unknown. it has become popular with cultivators (Stamets and Chilton, 1983). Psilocybe tampanensis has a cap that is only 1 to 2.4 cm broad (less than 1”) and

a slim stipe with the classical blue-black

spore print and bluing reaction. it can contain up to 1% psilocybin and psilocin by dry weight. Some individuals have also been tempted to try some of the large temperate Psilocybe species because of their more or less pronounced blue-green coloration. o ne example

is Psilocybe aeruginascens ( fig. 7). i n

the samples of Psilocybe aeruginascens

( fig. 7). i n the samples of Psilocybe aeruginascens i n f lorida and possibly

i n f lorida and

possibly other parts of the Southeast, some of the Mexican Psilocybe species are sometimes encountered but

Figure 7. Psilocybe aeruginascens Figure 9. Panaeolus papilionaceus Figure 10. Psilocybe coprophila Psilocybe

Figure 7. Psilocybe aeruginascens

Figure 7. Psilocybe aeruginascens Figure 9. Panaeolus papilionaceus Figure 10. Psilocybe coprophila Psilocybe

Figure 9. Panaeolus papilionaceus

Psilocybe aeruginascens Figure 9. Panaeolus papilionaceus Figure 10. Psilocybe coprophila Psilocybe coprophila (fig.

Figure 10. Psilocybe coprophila

Psilocybe coprophila (fig. 10) in a misguided and ill-informed effort to get

high. There are a few temperate dung- associated Psilocybe species that have some activity. Psilocybe fimentaria has

some similarity to Psilocybe semilanceata (fig. 2) but is differentiated by having

a persistent ring on the stipe and a

broader, less bell-shaped cap and prefers dung, often horse dung. it is reportedly mildly hallucinogenic and is found in the Pacific Northwest and Europe and may be fairly wide-spread. i never encountered either Psilocybe fimentaria or the similar Psilocybe subfimentaria in my many years of searching areas where they are reported to grow, though

if you do encounter them, they can be

fairly plentiful. Psilocybe subfimentaria does not have a sharply papillate cap,

a distinctive feature of both Psilocybe

fimentaria and Psilocybe semilanceata. Psilocybe liniformans var. americana is a horse dung associate that has been reported from Washington, oregon, and Michigan (Stamets et al., 1980). i found that it contained psilocybin but not psilocin and that the amount of psilocybin averaged 8.9 mg/g with a range of 6.6 to 12.8 mg/g dry weight, making this one of the potent Psilocybe

species, though European collections have very low activity. A dung associate that i am aware of that Paul Stamets has postulated might possibly be hallucinogenic is the uncommon small Mycena-like species Psilocybe angustispora (figure 11). Psilocybe angustispora is found on dung of sheep, cows and horses. i have found it in idaho on elk dung and Paul Stamets has found it on elk dung in the olympic National Park where he collected the specimens he photographed in figure 11. While Paul speculated that Psilocybe angustispora might be hallucinogenic, the fact that it is in section Atrobrunnea Guzmán, a section of non-bluing Psilocybe species, makes me doubtful (Stamets, 1996). Psilocybe semilanceata (fig. 2), like Psilocybe liniformans var. americanus has little or no psilocin but contains significant levels of psilocybin, varying from about 0.7% to 1.3% by dry weight and averaging 1% in our studies (Beug and Bigwood, 1982). finnish studies found levels ranging from 0.62% to 2.37% with a an average of 1.42% (Jokiranta et

al., 1984) and Norwegian researchers observed a wide range from a very low 0.17% to 1.96% (Christiansen et al., 1981). Psilocybe semilanceata is the only species in the genus found in middle and northern Europe in sufficient quantities to permit abuse (Stijve and Kuyper, 1985). in a parallel to the situation with Psilocybe cubensis that seems to have been widely spread throughout tropical regions by humans transporting ungulates with them, Psilocybe semilanceata appears to have been widely spread throughout temperate regions again by humans moving horses, sheep and cattle with them. However, unlike Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe liniformans, Psilocybe semilanceata is not found on dung. it is often found in pastures, typically boggy maritime pastures containing sedges and small rushes as well as grasses and appears to be closely associated with the grasses. it also can occur in ungrazed fields, lawns or other grassy areas. it is not a species of the interior, though i do have one undocumented report from Minnesota. Psilocybe semilanceata can be very common west of the Cascade Mountains from northern California to British Columbia. figure 12 shows seekers in a classical pose. Psilocybe semilanceata is also found in the Northeast, especially

semilanceata is also found in the Northeast, especially Figure 8. Psilocybe aeruginascens and Stropharia

Figure 8. Psilocybe aeruginascens

and Stropharia (formerly Psilocybe)


and Stropharia (formerly Psilocybe) pseudocyanea (fig. 8) i was able to analyze i found no psilocybin or psilocin. Stropharia (formerly Psilocybe) caerulea has paler gills than Psilocybe aeruginascens, is a bit smaller and has a rapidly blue-green discoloring cap without veil-formed scales on the surface. This litter mushroom thrives in garden habitats (as does Psilocybe aeruginascens). Stropharia (formerly Psilocybe) caerulea has not been analyzed but might have some activity though experimentation is always risky and hardly worth it. i frequently hear of and observe individuals seeking hallucinogenic mushrooms on dung in temperate regions of North America, though most frequently individuals were picking non-hallucinogenic Panaeolus species like the abundant and widespread Panaeolus papilionaceus (fig. 9) or one of the several similar inactive dung Psilocybe species like the diminutive

inactive dung Psilocybe species like the diminutive Figure 11. Psilocybe angustispora. Photo courtesy of P.

Figure 11. Psilocybe angustispora. Photo courtesy of P. Stamets.

11. Psilocybe angustispora. Photo courtesy of P. Stamets. Figure 12. Psilocybe semilanceata seekers the maritime

Figure 12. Psilocybe semilanceata seekers

the maritime provinces of Canada. it is probably the easiest Pacific Northwest Psilocybe for amateurs to identify, though it can be quite variable. typically the most distinctive feature is a nipple-like sharp umbo on a campanulate (bell- shaped) cap. Psilocybe strictipes Singer and Smith is a similar active species that lacks the distinctive umbo but is also associated with grasses. There are no data on the hallucinogenic content of Psilocybe strictipes, though people who have consumed it, report it to be moderately active. Like Psilocybe semilanceata, Psilocybe strictipes shows little tendency to turn blue on bruising. i believe that the bluing reaction is related to psilocin content of the mushrooms

reaction is related to psilocin content of the mushrooms Figure 13. Psilocybe mexicana but even though

Figure 13. Psilocybe mexicana

but even though Jeremy Bigwood and i worked on the problem for several years, we were never able to determine exactly what chemicals are involved in the bluing. in his book, Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, Paul Stamets notes that Psilocybe strictipes grows abundantly in western oregon in close association with highland bentgrass (Agrostis tenuis) where thousands of acres are farmed for grass seed production. He notes “the

acres are farmed for grass seed production. He notes “the 1 0 F U N G
acres are farmed for grass seed production. He notes “the 1 0 F U N G

potential distribution of this species through the commercial distribution of lawn seed is mind-boggling. P. strictipes is likely to be much more common than presently realized” (Stamets, 1996). Mexican liberty caps, Psilocybe mexicana Heim (figure 13) are also found in meadows, often in horse pastures rich in manure, but, as is the case with Psilocybe semilanceata, are not found directly on manure. They also appear at the interface between open fields and deciduous woods. Look for them in subtropical Mexico, typically at 3,000’ to 4,500’ (1,000-1,800 meters). Psilocybe mexicana is a moderately potent species. There are a number of species of Psilocybe associated with woodlands where they grow on wood debris or wood chips or well-decayed conifer substratum. While you always need to be careful with identification of mushrooms, these species require special care because the same habitat in the woods (as well as near-by grasslands and lands recently

the woods (as well as near-by grasslands and lands recently Figure 14. Galerina marginata Figure 16.
the woods (as well as near-by grasslands and lands recently Figure 14. Galerina marginata Figure 16.

Figure 14. Galerina marginata

grasslands and lands recently Figure 14. Galerina marginata Figure 16. Galerina marginata (left), Psilocybe

Figure 16. Galerina marginata (left), Psilocybe pelliculosa (right)

Galerina marginata (left), Psilocybe pelliculosa (right) Figure 18. Psilocybe aztecorum areas of both beauty bark

Figure 18. Psilocybe aztecorum

areas of both beauty bark and wood chip beds containing abundant numbers of Psilocybe species growing literally touching both deadly Galerina and deadly Conocybe species (fig. 16). Three of the Pacific Northwest wood-debris Psilocybe species that are hardest to identify are P. silvatica (Peck) Singer and Smith, P. pelliculosa (Smith) Singer and Smith ( fig. 17) and P. washingtonensis Smith. Psilocybe silvatica, P. pelliculosa and P. washingtonensis can be distinguished from each other only with a microscope and all three are weakly to only moderately hallucinogenic. Don’t be tempted to try them. The maximum level of psilocybin i found was 0.41% in one of several collections of P. pelliculosa. The psilocin level was not detectable and thus there is virtually no bluing in these species. Psilocybe aztecorum Heim emend Guzmán (fig. 18) is a Mexican species associated with wood debris. it is found high in the mountains of Central Mexico and fresh specimens often look a lot like Psilocybe pelliculosa. Psilocybe aztecorum

look a lot like Psilocybe pelliculosa. Psilocybe aztecorum Figure 15. Conocybe filaris Figure 17. Psilocybe

Figure 15. Conocybe filaris

Psilocybe aztecorum Figure 15. Conocybe filaris Figure 17. Psilocybe pelliculosa cleared) can contain

Figure 17. Psilocybe pelliculosa

cleared) can contain deadly species of Galerina and deadly species of Conocybe that are exceptionally similar in size and stature to the Psilocybe species found in the same habitats. Galerina marginata (fr.) Kuehner (fig. 14, called Galerina autumnalis (Peck) A. H Smith and Singer in most field guides) has caused the death of at least one seeker of a magic mushroom high as well as several deaths of people seeking edible species like Armillaria mellea (Vahl) P. Kumm. The darkening at the base of the stipe of Galerina marginata can be mistaken for a bluing reaction. Conocybe filaris (fr.) Kuehner (fig. 15, also known as Pholiotina filaris (fr.) Singer) is also deadly. They, and some other members of their respective genera, contain the same amatoxins as deadly Amanita species. i have frequently seen vast

as deadly Amanita species. i have frequently seen vast Figure 19. Psilocybe baeocystis grows numerous to

Figure 19. Psilocybe baeocystis

grows numerous to gregarious in open pine forests rich in grasses. it is a very potent species and is one of two species thought to be teonanacatl, flesh of the Gods, to the Aztec people. The other species thought to be teonanacatl is Psilocybe caerulescens. Psilocybe yungensis Singer and Smith is found from southern Mexico and south to Bolivia in clusters or gregarious on rotting wood, often on coffee plantations at 3,000’ to 6,000’ elevation (1,000 to 2,000 meters). Known as the divinatory mushroom, it is moderately hallucinogenic. it is a small species, at most 1 inch in diameter, usually with a sharp nipple-like umbo on the cap. The color is unusual for a Psilocybe. Psilocybe yungensis is orangish brown, looking very much like a Conocybe. Psilocybe baeocystis (fig. 19) is about 1% combined psilocybin and psilocin with 0.1% baeocystin (Repke et al., 1977). Psilocybe baeocystis is found in oregon and Washington on conifer mulch or lawns with high lignin content and was once common in the area but now appears to have disappeared. While some species, like Psilocybe semilanceata, maintain their potency quite well when dried and stored, Psilocybe baeocystis and many of the other strongly bluing Psilocybe species lose much of their potency on bruising or drying. Psilocybe quebecensis ola’h and Heim is reportedly moderately active and grows in sandy soils in outwashes of streams, occurring on the decayed wood of alder, birch and conifers in Quebec. Searching the images of Psilocybe

species on the Mushroom observer website (,

i found a photo of Psilocybe quebecensis

taken in Michigan, but that was the only entry for this species so i suspect that it is not common. Psilocybe caerulipes (Peck) Saccardo is another reportedly moderately active species found along river systems but appears restricted to hardwood debris. it is found summer to late fall throughout the Midwest and eastern united States, though is not found frequently. The bluing reaction of Psilocybe caerulipes is variable and may take several hours to be seen. While i do not have photos of this species, many images can be found on www. There is one eastern stream bank species that has become very popular with seekers of magic mushrooms and that is Psilocybe ovoideocystidiata. it grows easily in wood chips and bark mulch and on other debris and has been spread to many parts of North America and has even been introduced to Europe. it appears native to Pennsylvania, West Virginia and ohio. it belongs in section Stuntzii because it has subrhomboid thick- walled spores, a marked bluing reaction and an annulus. it has a distinctive farinaceous odor (an unpleasant odor of old corn

meal). in outdoor cultivation it can fruit in massive numbers, contributing to its now widespread occurrence in the Northeast and more recent appearance in Washington and oregon.

i have no photos but there are numerous postings on www.mushroomobserver.

com. from the appearance,

i would assume that it is

moderately potent, though i know of no formal analysis. in the area around San francisco, California, another wood-chip Psilocybe is all the rage. it is not formally named but goes by Psilocybe “cyanofriscosa.” on Mushroom o bserver

i have seen images of massive colonization on chip piles, even fir cones. Macroscopically Psilocybe “cyanofriscosa” resembles Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa but microscopically it so closely resembles Psilocybe cyanescens that some people think that it is a Psilocybe cyanescens variant that differs in having a cap that is not wavy on the margin and can be up to 4” (10 cm) across. While i know of no formal chemical analysis, reports place it similar in effect to Psilocybe cyanescens. i n short, this can be a very potent species. Psilocybe cyanescens Wakefield (fig. 20) also fruits in huge troops in wood

Wakefield (fig. 20) also fruits in huge troops in wood 1 2 F U N G
Figure 20. Psilocybe cyanescens debris and is characterized by a wavy cap that is 2-4

Figure 20. Psilocybe cyanescens

debris and is characterized by a wavy cap that is 2-4 cm broad, a fibrillose veil, and a fast bluing reaction. When i was actively doing research with this species i had sufficient spore load on my clothing that soon the sawdust mulch in my Rhododendron beds was producing massive quantities of Psilocybe cyanescens (and also P. stuntzii ), providing ample material for research so that i did not have to collect in one other place that i knew had abundant Psilocybe cyanescens (that spot was at the olympia

Psilocybe cyanescens (that spot was at the olympia Figure 21. Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa City Hall, in all

Figure 21. Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa

City Hall, in all too close proximity to the Police Department). in our studies of Psilocybe cyanescens, we found combined psilocybin plus psilocin content approaching 2% by dry weight in some samples, though more typical values cluster around 1% combined psilocybin plus psilocin (Gartz, 1994; Stijve and Kuyper, 1985). it may be significant that a small amount of baeocystin (0.02-0.03%) is also reported

(Gartz, 1994; Stijve and Kuyper, 1985). in any case there is something in several of these wood debris species that can lead to serious unwanted side effects. The reports that i have so far are vague and i would like to be more specific, but bad trips and serious medical problems can arise with these wood debris mushrooms. in 1962 a young child died after three days in the hospital and a 106º f fever. The child had eaten what was clearly Psilocybe cyanescens though the mushroom was identified as Psilocybe baeocystis in the article (McCawley et al., 1962). Hopefully reading this will get some of the affected individuals to come forth and tell me their story so that i can accurately inform others of the possible risks of Psilocybe cyanescens (and probably also P. baeocystis , P. cyanofibrillosa , P. “cyanofriscosa , ” P. ovoideocystidiata and especially P. azurescens). Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa Stamets and Guzmán (fig. 21) occurs on

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P uBLi SHER’S N otES: Although many wild mushrooms are quite palatable, some are deadly poisonous. it is advisable to avoid eating any wild organisms, including fungi, unless absolutely certain of identification. And although some mushroom species are edible for many people, those same spe- cies may cause allergic reactions or illness in others. When in doubt, throw it out. Fungi wants to ensure that all to have any wild mushroom checked by an expert before eating them. it should be understood that the Publisher and all Editors are not responsible for any consequences of ingesting wild mushrooms. furthermore, the Publisher and all Editors are not en- gaged, herein, in the rendering of any medical advice or services. All readers should verify all information and data before administering any drug, therapy, or treatment discussed herein. Neither the Editors nor the Publisher accepts any responsibility for the ac- curacy of the information or consequences from the use or misuse of the information contained herein. unauthorized reproduction of published content of Fungi is strictly forbidden, and permission for reproduction must be obtained by application in writ- ing to the Publisher. CoPYRi GHt ©2011 by Fungi. All rights reserved. Printed in the u.S.A.

by Fungi . All rights reserved. Printed in the u.S.A. Figure 22. Psilocybe stuntzii woody debris

Figure 22. Psilocybe stuntzii

woody debris from the coastal regions of northern California into British Columbia, associated with bush lupines or flood plains of rivers. it has also turned up in a grassy area near an interior B.C. hot spring and is the only Psilocybe species that i have ever found in the woods east of the Cascades. i have observed it fruiting in astounding quantity in bark-mulched Rhododendron gardens. o ur analysis revealed only low levels of psilocybin and psilocin. Psilocybe stuntzii Guzmán and o tt (fig. 22) is a weakly active woody debris associated species. Psilocybe stuntzii is distinguished by its whitish partial veil that bruises bluish and thus one of its common names “Washington Blue Veil.” it is found in maritime regions from oregon to British Columbia. it is strikingly similar to the deadly Galerina

marginata but has a purplish grayish brown spore print while Galerina marginata has a rusty brown spore print. Psilocybe stuntzii got its original fame because it fruited in massive abundance on the university of Washington campus outside of the botany building (home to the mycologist, Dr. Daniel Stuntz, in whose honor it was named, though it was an honor Dr. Stuntz often said that he could have done without. in fact, the kind and gentle Dr. Stuntz never forgave Jonathan o tt for naming this mushroom after him). Most of the area near the botany building that once produced abundant Psilocybe stuntzii is now brick courtyard. it seems that now the best places to find P. stuntzii are on school athletic fields and also in prison yards, much to the pleasure of some and consternation of others. i remember getting a call from the warden at the Shelton, Washington, correctional facility asking me why the prisoners spent so much time in the fall walking around the grass exercise yard bent over and peering intently at the ground. That surely was the influence

of P. stuntzii. i n contrast, when the Washington State governor called to ask why so many people where peering around the Rhododendron beds outside his office and elsewhere on the capitol campus, i had to conclude that those beds, mulched with wood chips, would be full of P. baeocystis , P. cyanescens and probably also P. cyanofibrillosa. today, P. ovoideocystidiata will have probably taken the place of P. baeocystis. Psilocybe baeocystis appears to becoming quite rare. i suspect that it may have arrived in olympia courtesy of Jeremy Bigwood, but that is merely speculation, i have no proof. But now that Jeremy is long gone from the Northwest, P. baeocystis appears to be disappearing as well. Psilocybe azurescens Stamets and Gartz is thought by some to be just a huge, exceptionally potent, non-wavy Psilocybe cyanescens. When not intentionally cultivated, it is cespitose to gregarious in sandy soils rich in lignicolous debris. it is found on both sides of the Columbia River mostly downstream from Astoria, oregon. According to Paul Stamets who coauthored this species, Psilocybe azurescens is often associated with dune grasses, especially Ammophila maritime (Guzman et al., 1997). o utdoor cultivators have been very successful spreading this species to California, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Vermont, Germany and elsewhere. interestingly, as far as i can determine, most of the species close to Psilocybe cyanescens have never been found growing naturally in the wild. They have always been observed in human-

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Figure 23. “No mushroom picking” sign al., 2010) found in a temperate forest in Arizona,

Figure 23. “No mushroom picking” sign

al., 2010) found in a temperate forest in Arizona, a place not previously associated with hallucinogenic Psilocybe species. it was found on black soils in an aspen ( Populus tremuloides ) forest with douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii ) and limber pine ( Pinus flexilis) plus bracken ferns (Pteridium aquilinum ) – and this makes it the only member of the Psilocybe cyanescens complex in North America so far found in its native woodland habitat, though since it can be readily cultivated, it may soon be turning up in wood mulch in many new areas. Microscopically Psilocybe hopii differs from other members of the P. cyanescens complex by having special cheilocystidia (sterile cell on the gills) with long and sinuous necks. All parts are strongly bluing and the odor is farinaceous. it was found in the San francisco Peaks region, an area sacred to the Hopi people, though the Hopi are not known to have used hallucinogenic mushrooms. in another paper i will discuss the historical use, recreational use and potential medical use of these species. However, be aware of the legal situation. Possession of psilocybin or psilocin in any form is illegal. The law does not name specific mushrooms but worldwide, according to John Allen, a long time pursuer of these species, there are over 150 psilocybin containing mushrooms in many genera and families of gilled mushrooms (see and possession of any one of these species can get you arrested. uniquely, their spores are often traded on the

internet. Since the spores have never been shown to contain psilocybin or psilocin, trading the spores is not illegal. However, growing the mushrooms from the spores produces psilocybin and psilocin and thus makes you a drug manufacturer. i have been an expert witness in a case where a mushroom cultivator was arrested (after being turned in by a neighbor for suspicious activity) – fortunately for him the only mushrooms he had fruiting were several varieties of the choice edible Pleurotus ostreatus ! i am on retainer now for

a person arrested for possessing just

spores – and spores of what i don’t yet

know. Whether the case ever will go to court or not is as yet unclear, but it is clear that the defense expenses are already substantial for this individual. i n another case, years ago, i was an expert witness where a dealer had been selling to school children – except that the mushrooms he was trying to sell were not magic mushrooms! i never found out whether or not the dealer thought he knew what he was doing or was simply committing fraud on unwitting young people. i n one notable event near tillamook,

o regon, i took a large group of

prominent West Coast mycologists out into a field to see if we could find any magic mushrooms. They had never seen them. i had obtained permission from the wife at the farmhouse, was licensed to possess and study these mushrooms, and still the farmer threatened to shoot us all and it was a VERY scary encounter – and yet the farmer ignored many carloads of fisherman who had

altered habitats. The same appears to be true for Psilocybe baeocystis , Psilocybe stuntzii and Psilocybe weilii. The combined psilocybin plus psilocin content of Psilocybe azurescens was found by J. Gartz (in Stamets, 1996) to be over 2% with a staggering 0.35% baeocystin. The flesh can become indigo black from bruising. it is easily one of the most potent magic mushrooms in the world. frankly, the

staggering baeocystin content is of concern to me. Years ago, Repke, who identified baeocystin in many of these species, told me that he felt that baeocystin produced stronger hallucinations than psilocin/psilocybin. But it, or something also produced by mushrooms producing baeocystin, also seems to produce stronger adverse reactions and more cases of bad trips. The newest named Psilocybe in the Psilocybe cyanescens- complex is Psilocybe hopii Guzmán et J. Greene (Guzmán et

is Psilocybe hopii Guzmán et J. Greene (Guzmán et driven across his field to fish for

driven across his field to fish for salmon in the river. We did not find anything but harmless cow-pie fungi in his field – that was before i knew to stick to boggy pastures if i wanted to find Psilocybe semilanceata . i n another o regon incident, my oldest son was once stopped hours after photographing Psilocybe azurescens. He was miles away from the spot, but his license was noted by a local and turned over to the police. fortunately for him, he had not made a voucher collection and he had a copy of Paul Stamets’s Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World . He used that book to point out that he was my son and was taking the picture for me and thus escaped jailing (though i never did receive a copy of the picture). By the way, if you want to collect Psilocybe mushrooms, you too should get a copy of Paul’s book. The descriptions and photos that i have provided here are certainly not enough to go on if you want to collect these species. i f you are new to mushrooms, make certain to get your finds confirmed by a genuine expert. And unless you potentially want to pay me $200/hour as an expert witness in your trial, be careful to just look and not gather these species at the wrong time or place. The “no mushroom picking” sign ( fig. 23) was not placed in the farmer’s field to keep people from picking the Meadow Mushrooms!


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species from seven genera of wild mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, uSA. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 5:


Bigwood, J., and M. W. Beug. 1982. Variation of psilocybin and psilocin levels with repeated flushes (harvests) of mature sporocarps of Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 5: 287-291. Christiansen, A. L., K. E. Rasmussen, and K. Høiland. 1981. The content of psilocybin in Norwegian Psilocybe semilanceata. Planta Medica 42(7): 229-


Gartz, J. 1994. Extraction and analysis of indole derivatives from fungal biomass. Journal of Microbiology 34:


Guzmán, G. 2008. Hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico: an overview. Economic Botany 62(3): 404-412. Guzmán, G., J. Greene, and f. Ramirez- Guillén. 2010. A new for science neurotropic species of Psilocybe (fr.) P. Kumm. (Agaricomycetideae) from the western united States. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 12(2):


Guzmán, G., f. tapia, and P. Stamets. 1997. A new bluing Psilocybe from uSA. Mycotaxon 65: 191. Jokiranta, J., S. Mustola, E. ohenoja, and M. M. Airaksinen. 1984. Psilocybin in finnish Psilocybe semilanceata. Planta Medica 50(3): 277-278. McCawley, E. L., R. E. Brummet, and G. W. Dana. 1962. Convulsions from Psilocybe mushroom poisoning.

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Psilocybe with Psilocybe semilanceata as the conserved type. Taxon 59(1): 291-


oss, o. t., and o. N. o eric. 1976. Psilocybin: Magic Mushrooms Grower’s Guide. Seattle: Homestead Book Company.

Redhead, Scott A., J-M. Moncalvo, R. Vilgalys, P. B. Matheny, L. Guzmán- Davalos, and G. Guzmán. 2007. Proposal to conserve the name Psilocybe (Basidiomycota) with a conserved type. Taxon 56(1): 255-257. Repke, D., D. Leslie, and G. Guzmán.

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and Panaeolus. Lloydia 40: 566-578. Stamets, P. 1996. Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Berkeley: ten Speed Press. Stamets, P., M. W. Beug, J. E. Bigwood, and G. Guzmán. 1980. A new species and

a new variety of Psilocybe from North America. Mycotaxon 11: 476-484. Stamets, P., and J. S. Chilton. 1983. The Mushroom Cultivator. olympia:

Agarikon Press.

Stijve, t. C., and A. A. R. de Meijer.

1993. Macromycetes from the state

of Parana, Brazil. 4. The psychoactive species. Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology 36(2): 313-329. Stijve, t. C., and t. W. Kuyper. 1985. o ccurrence of psilocybin in various higher fungi from several European countries. Planta Medica 51(5): 385-387. Wasson, R. G. 1957. Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120.

Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. Mushroaming in Tibet & Beyond Details at:
Mushroaming in Tibet & Beyond Details at: O ur “mushroaming” trips to Tibet are
Mushroaming in
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O ur “mushroaming” trips to Tibet are a once in a lifetime fungal, botanical and
cultural experience in some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet. Tibet
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the highest fungal income per capita in the world. Of great importance are also boletes,
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We explore Tibetan forests, meadows, mountains and monasteries.
Guided by Daniel Winkler and Tibetan local guides.
Summer Fungal & Floral Foray: July 31-Aug 13, 2011
Mushroaming Ecuador & Bolivia: Jan / Feb 2012
Cordyceps Expedition: June 2012
ABSTRACT This article reviews the most recent legal status of psilocybin and psilocin in the


This article reviews the most recent legal status of psilocybin and psilocin in the USA and select foreign countries. This article is not intended to constitute legal advice. Persons on U.S. soil are generally subject to federal laws as well as the laws of the state in which they reside and/or do business concerning an activity within that state. Under federal law psilocybin or psilocin are Schedule I drugs. Possession, sales, manufacturing and transportation are all prohibited. Spores do not contain psilocybin or psilocin and are therefore not illegal under federal law, but can be used as evidence of the intent to manufacture. Fungi, at any stage and in any form, are not specifically prohibited unless they contain psilocybin or psilocin. The laws of each state vary. Generally, the states follow federal law. Three states, California, Georgia, and Idaho prohibit spores. In California, mere possession of spores is not illegal.

i t’s odd to think that walking in the woods and stopping to pick a mushroom could be considered a criminal act. if the

mushroom you pick contains psilocybin it could be.1 in Georgia you could be guilty of possessing a “dangerous drug” by unwittingly picking up spores on a stroll. Georgia Code - Crimes and Offenses - Title 16 § 16-13-71 (b) in addition to subsection (a) of this Code section, a “dangerous drug” means any other drug or substance declared by the General Assembly to be a dangerous drug; to include any of the following


Mushroom spores which, when mature, contain either psilocybin or psilocin; Also considered “dangerous drug(s)” in Georgia are penicillin (694), sodium thiosulfate (880.5); vitamin K (1035) and estrogenic substances (354)2. in a strict reading of Georgia law the possession of any soy product could be considered the possession of a dangerous drug. Although, as Dickens observed, sometimes “the law is a ass-a idiot.”3 ignorance of the law is no

defense to felony or misdemeanor charges.

drugs, chemicals, or substances

by Jack Silver

A person on u.S. soil is generally subject

to federal laws as well as the laws of the state in which they reside and/or do business concerning an activity within that state.

under federal law psilocybin and psilocin are Schedule i drugs.4 Possession, sales, manufacturing and transportation are all prohibited. Spores do not contain psilocybin and are therefore not illegal under federal law but can be used as evidence of the intent to manufacture. fungi, at any stage and in any form, are not specifically prohibited unless they contain psilocybin. The laws of each state vary. Generally, the states follow federal law. in other words, it is illegal to possess, sell, transport or manufacture a controlled substance. California, Georgia, idaho also prohibit spores even though the spores themselves do not contain any controlled substance.

in California possession of spores in and

of itself is not illegal. it is illegal to cultivate “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material which contains such a controlled substance” (CA Health & Safety Code § 11390). it is also illegal to transport, import, sell, furnish, give away, or offer to transport, import, sell, furnish, or give away “any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material which contain a controlled substance” (CA Health & Safety Code § 11391). So, if you are just acquiring spore prints for a collection with no intention they be cultivated or used to produce psilocybin containing mycelium or fungi you are not violating the law.

CA Health & Safety Code §§ 11390-11391

11390. Except as otherwise authorized

by law, every person who, with intent to produce a controlled substance specified

in paragraph (18) or (19) of subdivision

(d) of Section 11054, cultivates any spores or mycelium capable of producing mushrooms or other material which contains such a controlled substance shall be punished by imprisonment in the

county jail for a period of not more than one year or in the state prison.

11391. Except as otherwise authorized

by law, every person who transports, imports into this state, sells, furnishes, gives away, or offers to transport, import into this state, sell, furnish, or give away any spores or mycelium capable of

producing mushrooms or other material which contain a controlled substance specified in paragraph (18) or (19) of subdivision (d) of Section 11054 for the purpose of facilitating a violation of Section 11390 shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than one year or in the state prison. Generally the federal government is only interested in crimes committed in areas under federal jurisdiction such as post offices, airports, federal land, federal buildings or large scale multi-state operations. using the u.S. Postal Service to transport controlled substances across state lines violates several federal laws as would transporting controlled substances into the u.S., including lying to a federal agent by going through customs and failing to claim your substance. States vary not only state to state but regionally within a state. The reach of any law is limited by the language which was enacted. if you are in the woods in California selecting Psilocybe spp. specimens for your spore print collection you would not be violating the law. But in Georgia you might be. Most criminal laws require that prosecutors prove scienter, that is, the defendants knew they were violating the law.5 Thus in fiske v. State of florida, No. 50796, Supreme Court of florida (1978), the court found that psilocybin mushrooms could not reasonably be considered “containers” of the Schedule i substance psilocybin. The court essentially held that if the florida legislature wished to make wild psilocybin mushrooms illegal, it would have to name them in the law. The court ruled: “the statute does not advise a person of ordinary and common intelligence that this substance is contained in a particular variety of mushroom. The statute, therefore, may not be applied constitutionally to [the defendant fiske who was caught with freshly picked psilocybes].” The court did not address whether fiske would have been breaking the law if the prosecution had proven fiske knew the mushrooms contained psilocybin. Subsequent cases in other states have found the knowledge component to be the deciding factor. in 2005 a New Mexico appeals court ruled that growing psilocybin mushrooms for personal consumption could not be considered “manufacturing a controlled

substance” under state law, State v. Pratt

No. 24,387 (NM Court of Appeals 2005). Although Pratt was able to reverse the charge of manufacturing a controlled substance, he was still convicted of possession. Therefore whether it is a crime to pick mushrooms containing psilocybin depends upon where you are and the laws of that


Resources within state and local law enforcement are allocated toward serious offenses such as sales, transportation and manufacturing before they are used to build

a case for possession. Mushrooms containing

psilocybin are generally low priority for the federal government and most state and local law enforcement prefer pursuing hard drugs

like meth and heroin or popular targets such as marijuana. Although the entheogenic or psychedelic effect from psilocybin can be as powerful as that from DMt or its cousin LSD, psilocybin is considered a mild intoxicant.8 Worldwide, the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms varies.9 Psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule i drugs under the united Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances.10 However, psilocybin mushrooms themselves are not regulated by uN treaties. As a matter of international law, no plants (natural material) containing psilocin and psilocybin are at present controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Consequently, preparations made of these plants are not under international control and, therefore, not subject of the articles of the 1971 Convention. uN recommendations notwithstanding, many countries have some level of regulation or prohibition of psilocybin mushrooms. Criminal cases regarding psilocybin-containing fungi are decided with reference to the laws of the country or jurisdiction in which a person find themselves. Within national, state, and provincial jurisdictions there is a great deal of ambiguity as to the legal status of psilocybin mushrooms, as well as a strong element of selective enforcement. The legal status of spores is even more ambiguous, as spores contain neither psilocybin nor psilocin, and hence are not illegal to sell or possess in many jurisdictions, though these jurisdictions may prosecute under broader laws prohibiting items that are used in drug manufacturing. in some countries such as indonesia, trafficking in psilocybin can technically carry the death penalty. Though like most jurisdictions, indonesia considers mushrooms

a “soft drug” and until recently allowed

restaurants in Bali to serve magic mushroom

smoothies and omelets. However, do not expect other jurisdictions such as China, Singapore or the Middle Eastern countries to be so forgiving. As mentioned above, psilocin and psilocybin are controlled substances under Schedule 1 of the 1971 uN Convention on Psychotropic Substances, so all Member States control them accordingly. However, control of the mushrooms themselves is interpreted in many different ways across Europe – this may reflect the extent to which they grow freely in certain conditions, and the fact that they appear to be a somewhat regional phenomenon. A number of countries remain with unclear legislation, simply as there have been so few cases to reach the courts. No matter where you are, the threshold for charging someone with a crime is very low compared to the threshold for a conviction. As a general rule the knowing possession of psilocybin containing fungi in any stage or form is illegal in all jurisdictions within the u.S. and most outside the u.S. if a prosecutor wants to make an example of you the laws are there to support the prosecution, requiring an expensive defense. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jack Silver is a mycophile and public interest attorney living in Sebastopol California. In addition to environmental law Jack has defended the First Amendment rights of individuals from groups like Critical Mass and Food Not Bombs as well the right of the Santo Daime Church to use ayahuasca as a sacrament.


1 for simplicity, i refer to psilocybin and psilocin as psilocybin.

2 Estrogenic substances also occur naturally in cultivated plants, e.g. subterranean clover, and in fungi growing on plants and plant products, e.g. fusarium graminearum, f. roseum.

3 “That is no excuse,” replied Mr. Brownlow. “You were present on the occasion of the destruction of these trinkets, and indeed are the more guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.” “if the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass- a idiot. if that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst i wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience - by experience.” oliver twist, Charles Dickens.

4 The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Pub. L. 91-513, 84 Stat. 1236, enacted october 27, 1970, codified at 21 u.S.C. § 801 et. seq.

The CSA is the federal u.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated. The legislation created five Schedules (classifications), with varying qualifications for a substance to be included in each. Schedule i drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse; no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the united States and, a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. other Schedule i drugs include heroin and marijuana. Cocaine and methamphetamine (“meth”) are Schedule ii drugs.

5 Generally in order to convict a person for

a criminal felony, due process requires that

a prosecutor prove the defendant knew he

was committing a crime. However, certain crimes are strict liability requiring no scienter. in certain states statutory rape is a strict liability crime as is selling alcohol to a minor. under federal law environmental crimes are generally strict liability.

6 An excellent text for identification is Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World by Paul Stamets; ten Speed Press; 1996.

7 for a state by state list see North florida Shroom Guide’s mushroom law page www.

8 Based upon arrests compared to other substances including heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

9 for a comprehensive list of the laws in various countries see European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) http://www.emcdda.europa. eu//html.cfm//index17341EN.html?. Also ERoWiD has numerous references as to the legality of psilocybin containing mushrooms. See plants/mushrooms/mushrooms_law.shtml and related links. 10 See “List of psychotropic substances under international control” international Narcotics Control Board. August 2003. http://

by Gary Lincoff Preface In a matter of hours, mind-altering substances may induce profound psychological

by Gary Lincoff

Preface In a matter of hours, mind-altering substances may induce profound psychological realignments that can take decades to achieve on a therapist’s couch From “Hallucinogens as Medicine,” Roland Griffiths and Charles Grob, December 2010 issue of Scientific American

So, can psilocybin save you from decades of therapy (at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars)? If it can, what “profound psychological realignments” can you expect to realize?

f reud would probably say that the best you could hope for would be to accept the “human condition,”

that is, the general unhappiness of life. o ther therapists would say some very different things. Sandor ferenczi might say that the human quest is to return to the peaceful condition of the fetus before birth, before being thrust out into the world. o ther therapists, like o tto Rank, might focus on the trauma of birth itself, well before the onset of early childhood issues, as the ultimate source of our most disabling neuroses. o ne therapist, Stanislav Grof, thinks that under the influence of a mind-altering substance or a trance-induced state, one can experience profound encounters

with life before conception, prior lives,

Sit back, relax, take 5 mg and call me when

the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter

aligns with Mars.

similar in a way, perhaps, to experiencing Jung’s archetypes. The general consensus of those therapists not in the “ freudian

school” seems to be that the oceanic feelings often associated with mind- altering substances, like psilocybin, is not so much a return to “life” in the amniotic fluid as it is the sense of connectedness with all life, with all creatures, great and small, as well as all plants and all fungi.

i s this sense of “oneness,” this strong

feeling of bonding with all sentient life, real or illusory, and in what sense? Can the experience give us a window onto a world otherwise denied us, or is it just

a journey through the looking glass?

Are metaphors inescapable here? “ i f the doors of perception were cleansed,”

would everything “appear to man as it is,


First, a few caveats

Psilocybin is a value-free, non- integrated molecular strategy for developing cooperative individuals in the pursuit of social equality in a democratic society. This might sound like an oxymoron, if not outright moronic, and it is something that seems easier to disprove than prove, but that doesn’t deter exercise of its use or prevent belief in its efficacy.

Warning: If you are having an experience lasting more than 4 hours, consult a shaman as soon as possible, if time has any meaning for you.

Psilocybin is not to be taken alone or with your doppelganger (if you can recognize him or her), or with total strangers (assuming you know a stranger when you see one). taken with friends

it can lead to intense emotional bonding

between individuals that others may interpret as totally inappropriate, and that the affected couple finds nearly impossible to dissolve amicably. Psilocybin is not to be taken by those adherents of freudian psychology who believe that a feeling of “oceanic wholeness” is a symptom of infantile regression, and that this is something to be eschewed. Psilocybin is not for those unprepared to experience phylogenetic regression; the event, not manifested in physical terms, as shown in the film Altered States, but capable of being described as clear, concrete, and accurate memories of a life in the body of a different species. Psilocybin is not for people who display

a rigid personality or for those who fear loss of control; or, as Lily tomlin has said, “reality is a crutch for those who

can’t handle drugs.” it might be true that there are no atheists in a foxhole, as the saying goes, but an atheist high- dosing psilocybin will be unprepared to experience God face to face, as it were, and consequently will most likely misinterpret the experience. Psilocybin is not for males who plan to become pregnant; nor is it for males attempting to breast-feed a baby. Psilocybin is not for females experiencing acute penis envy or SDS (Sports Distraction Syndrome). The successful use of psilocybin depends in part on one’s set and setting. if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, or your expectations or those around you are creating stress, its use in such situations cannot be recommended. Psilocybin is not the drug of choice to get you through rush-hour traffic or a colonoscopy. People taking psilocybin while on an MAo inhibitor medication can find the experience more intense, perhaps too intense, and longer lasting, perhaps never ending. Who knew? So, who in their right mind, you might ask, would take psilocybin? Someone out of their (left) mind? or, if you are finding yourself on planet Earth in the Human Christian Earth-year of 2011, and are wondering who took the wrong turn, it’s too late to check your genome. in this case, it might just be better to sit back, relax, take 5 mg and call me when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars. or, if you are wondering how the best minds of our generation got wasted by the evening news, or how people who have reached the biblical age of three score years and ten, seem to be disappearing before your very eyes, or are finding themselves with lots of body parts that aren’t the ones they were born with, or are entering the dark world of dementia, now may not be too soon to double the dose.


1 The Youtube clip from the movie

Know Your Mushrooms is essentially

true, at least as it was experienced. if

i learned anything from the event, it

was that there’s more to a psilocybin experience than set and setting, since i didn’t know or trust the people i had met who wanted me to share this mushroom with them, and i wasn’t in the “mood” for having a non-dreaming out of body experience; in fact, i was anxious to get to the airport on time and not miss my flight home. How naïve i was (and still am) is beyond belief. Still and all, the experience, as described on Youtube and in the film was quite exhilarating. Whether it was an actual out-of-body experience, or only an imagined one, it was one that was intensely experienced.

it was not spiritual in any normal sense of that term, although space travel does seem to have a spiritual component. The only sense i could make of it was some kind of attempt on my part to escape from wherever i was, which i did thanks to the light beam that i followed out to somewhere in the vicinity of the Andromeda galaxy. Was it the acting out

of a birth trauma event, an escape from a living “womb” that was no longer a place

i felt comfortable being in? Was my out-

of-body experience a snake-like slithering out of my “mortal coil,” an escape from life rather than an escape into life? Did it in some way change my life? Since i remember it so vividly, something that happened so long ago, it must have changed me in some way or other.

2 i was in the Amazon with a

group on a ship exploring a few of its tributaries. We passed by a pasture and pulled in to see what mushrooms might be coming up in the cow pies. We were ecstatic to find a blue-staining, black-spored mushroom, a species of Panaeolus , now called Copelandia . We put a handful or two in a bowl with some fruit juice and mashed bananas. We had no idea what its potency was. We called the mixture a blue banana smoothie. it wasn’t blue at all, but it tasted great. We became unusually quiet, quite odd for a group of American eco-tourists (something we didn’t know we were at the time). i lay in a hammock and became somewhat dreamy. A storm blew up out of nowhere. it suddenly got quite dark and there was lightning and loud crashes of thunder. The ship’s crew

lowered large, blue plastic sheets along the sides of the deck, to keep the rain from blowing in. i was immobilized in the hammock, imagining myself in a lifeboat. i remembered reaching under the hammock and feeling all the holes between the interconnected strands of rope. Everything around me had become deep blue. Lightning would light up the scene and the blue plastic sheets flooded the deck with its color. i was panicky. i tried to talk but couldn’t; words wouldn’t come out of my mouth. i was overboard

in a lifeboat full of holes. i was drowning.

i was scared beyond belief. i must have

passed out because the next thing i knew it was morning, the sun was out, the blue sheets had been raised, and i had not drowned in a leaky lifeboat. The

experience, as horrific as it seemed at the time, has become a mere cocktail circuit anecdote. Many questions remain unanswered. for example, was this experience a pre-natal one, a sense of

being mute and helpless in the womb at the very moment of being pushed out into the world? What, if anything, is to be made of such an experience? Why is it such an indelible memory for me when so little else from that trip down the Amazon can be recalled? 3 We were in Hobart, tasmania. We had gathered in a motel room one night. We ate a number of mushrooms we had found earlier that day. We spent hours sitting around mostly responding to what anyone else was saying. it seemed to get progressively colder. o ne person wrapped herself in blankets that were on the bed. Another clutched a warm radiator, and hugged it like it was a sentient being. Not much happened. it was very late and we realized we were very hungry. We went out in search of an open restaurant. Everything was closed except for a Chinese restaurant, which was practically empty. We sat around

a large table. After too long an interval

someone came out of the kitchen and asked us what we wanted. We ordered. The food took forever to arrive. We asked for chopsticks. The dishes of food were placed on a large Lazy Susan. We had to move it around to bring whatever dish of Chinese food we wanted to sit in front of us so we could take some for ourselves. That’s when we knew the experience wasn’t over. The Lazy Susan started moving. The problem was it wouldn’t stop. Someone was always moving it. i f

you tried to grab some food with your chopsticks while the dish passed by you, you would inevitably fail. The Lazy Susan seemed to move faster and faster. Nobody was able to take any food off it. The few people in the restaurant noticed our dilemma and watched us. They pulled up chairs around our table and sat there silently observing us. People walking by the restaurant saw something happening inside and came in and joined the group watching us. Every now and then the Lazy Susan slowed sufficiently so that we could get something out of one of the dishes of food, even if it wasn’t something that we really wanted to eat. We were convulsed in laughter the whole time, incapable of controlling our movements or communicating with one another. We were not getting dinner, as it were, but we were having a great time. Eventually, chairs were put

up on tables, and the restaurant gave every sign of closing for the night. We lurched out into the street, still laughing, still hungry, still wondering whether this was the way things worked in the southern hemisphere. Across the street two kids were walking along as a group approached them. o ne of the kids in the group took off and ran full out at the two kids and tackled one of them. We assumed we were watching a mugging. But all we heard was laughter, and the kids involved got up and hugged and talked like this was the appropriate way of greeting someone in tasmania. We thought they must have been high on something or other, or they were living in too close proximity to a large variety of marsupials, whatever that means. What sense, if any, could be made out of this group experience? Why, after a couple of decades, do i still feel connected to the people who just happened to be in that place at that time?

4 We were in telluride, in a condo

one night, about a dozen or so of us, taking mushrooms the way some people might have a drink or a smoke, a form of relaxation after a long, busy day. Someone said it was the night of the full moon. She went outside to watch it. After some time another person said she wanted to see it, too. She got up and went to the door. unfortunately, the refrigerator was so placed that she had to pass it on her way to the door. She mistook the door of the refrigerator for the condo door, opened it, noticed the

light in the back of the refrigerator, and stuck her head inside. She stayed like that for several minutes, perhaps ten. Then she emerged from the refrigerator, closed the door, turned towards us, and said “the moon’s nice tonight, but it’s too cold out there,” and sat back down. Nothing we could say would convince her that she had not gone outside to see the moon. She was only convinced that we had conspired to fool her. to this day, we still wonder what she did, what she thought she was seeing, and what we saw her doing. After all, we had all had mushrooms, and nobody present was a designated driver. Was this a hallucinogenic experience on her part, or on ours? Was she acting as our surrogate for something we couldn’t begin to verbalize? What does it mean if it means anything at all? After all, does everything have to mean something? 5 We were in southern i ndia, in Kodaikanal, a hill station resort town high above the lowland tropics. i rene and i and another couple had taken a cottage for the night. it offered a wood- burning fireplace and the promise of a thermos of hot tea in the morning. We wandered about town. The center of town had one large dusty intersection. There were no paved roads in this town at the time. At one corner of the intersection a group of women gathered. All were wearing beautiful saris. one sat down on the ground holding a large basket. it contained mushrooms. The mushrooms were an edible kind, Russula virescens or something close. She was selling them even though it didn’t appear that anyone was buying. We didn’t know that i ndians liked to eat mushrooms, or that any would be interested in eating wild mushrooms. We made a fuss over her, and engaged her and her family in chatter. it turned out that she also had mushrooms hidden in the folds of her sari. These were magic mushrooms, some bluing species of Psilocybe . She was selling these to Europeans who passed through Kodaikanal on their way to Goa. Goa was party central for a certain generation of European youth. We didn’t see anyone looking for her, but we took advantage of her supply and bought some for ourselves. That night in our cottage the four of us consumed the lot. The cottage was unheated and it was getting progressively cooler as the night wore on. We sat by the fireplace, made a

huge fire, put on all our clothing, and still felt cold. The other male sat closest to the fire and, though wrapped in his scarf, was clearly still cold. We talked a lot, laughed a lot, shivered a lot, and soon ran out of firewood. We went out into the night looking for more but found nothing. We considered burning the furniture in the cottage. We discussed it matter-of-factly, as if it was a reasonable solution to keep the fire going. i ’m not sure why we didn’t. There was a lot of wood to burn in that place, the chairs, the tables, the dressers, the doors, the walls themselves. We could have burned the cottage down to the ground. i nstead, we said good-night and the two couples wandered off to bed – cold, dressed in everything we had to wear, covered with thin blankets, and clutching each other for all the animal warmth it was worth. Morning came, the cottage was intact, the hot tea was left for us at our front door, and we walked out into the crisp morning air. What had we experienced besides a numbing sense of cold, an inability to get warm, a drawing together then a pulling apart, and relief that we had not burned the house down around us? Perhaps we should have doubled the dose. But, then, if we had, perhaps we wouldn’t be here now. 6 We were in o axaca, Mexico, a group of about six of us, in a hotel room in the middle of town. o n the bus ride crossing the mountains from Vera Cruz to o axaca, the bus overheated again and again. Each time we got out and walked about the surrounding forest waiting for our bus to cool down. We found mushrooms every time we stopped, all kinds of mushrooms, including magic mushrooms. We found nice collections of at least six different species of Psilocybe . i n o axaca the next day we decided to try the different kinds of Psilocybe to see if there were any differences to be noted. The way we did this was to put all the mushrooms out on the bed in the hotel room. We made little piles for each species. Each person interested in taking them had to agree on the ground-rules. There was only one rule, actually, no mix and match. What you took you could only keep taking. You couldn’t move on to a second kind. You had to get whatever you could out of the one you selected, and nobody could select the same one anyone else did. Everyone was agreeable, and i kept notes

on a legal pad: How’s it going? How are you feeling? Are you seeing anything? Anything happening? it went along like that for a while. Then, one of our group decided to try another kind. i explained that this wasn’t a Whitman Sampler. You had to stay with what you chose. She didn’t see why that was necessary, and proceeded to try a different mushroom.

This led a second person to do likewise.

it wasn’t long before the study dissolved

into a feeding frenzy, maybe because we hadn’t eaten much all day to prepare for this event, and we were very hungry. We were also very noisy. Someone from our group entered the room to tell us to quiet down. We were on the second floor but

we could be heard down in the lobby. We tried to quiet down, and did to some extent, and sat or lay about in a kind of dreamy stupor for the rest of the day. Discussing it afterwards, some of us said they saw Mexican motifs everywhere, Mesoamerican hieroglyphics, things we had seen on our trip through Mexico come to life. o thers didn’t see much of anything, just enjoyed the dreaminess of the experience. After three or four hours we were back to “normal,” except, of course, that we were in o axaca, and this was the epicenter for the shamanic ceremonies that Maria Sabina held, and Gordon Wasson described for the world to know. What had we accomplished,

if anything? What had we experienced?

What did it mean? Was Maria Sabina, hours away and high in the mountains, aware of our antics, perhaps mystified

by our feckless attempt at studying something that, maybe, is beyond study, or from her perspective is something that shouldn’t be studied at all?

7 i was at Breitenbush, a New Age hot

springs resort two hours from Portland,

o regon, for a Halloween weekend

mushroom foray many years ago. At this time Breitenbush attracted a large diverse group of mushroom hunters.

Some were actually just interested in identifying what was found. Many were

attending because it was a place where one could take magic mushrooms in

a setting deep in the forest, in a place

festooned with hot tubs and saunas— some designed near the edge of the forest, quite isolated from everything and everyone else. it was a perfect place to get stoned, or so it was thought by many of those attending. i was given a number of mushrooms before a talk by

terence McKenna. i remember being so locked into the talk that i jabbered along and made various enthusiastically encouraging noises. o thers tried to hush me. i was undeterred. Someone said, “Give him more. He’s in too low an orbit.”

i thought i was just fine. o bviously, i was

interfering with others trying to listen to the talk. i didn’t think the words were important, just his presence, standing up before everyone, and saying something, anything. Meanwhile, my roommate, who had never taken magic mushrooms before, and who had taken the same amount that i had, had not felt anything at all. He was frustrated, walked about after the talk, and found someone with more, and took them. He did this again about a half hour later; that is, he took a total of 21 Psilocybe semilanceata , and

nothing appeared to be happening. We went back to our cabin for the night. He disappeared for a while and came in

somewhat disturbed. He found someone in the dark, who gave him a handful of some mushroom or other. He didn’t know what it was, but he swallowed them all. Soon after he returned, he got into his sleeping bag. He was silent for

a while until suddenly he blurted out

“Can you see my feet?” i thought he was joking. o f course not, i assured him, he was zipped up in a sleeping bag. His feet were covered. He didn’t believe me. He scrunched down in the sleeping bag so that i couldn’t see him at all, except as an outline in the sleeping bag. “Can you see me now?” he challenged me. He was sounding angry and somewhat

frightened. i got help. four or five of us sat up with him that night, mostly to talk to him, to calm him down, to assure him that everyone would be all right.

o ne of these people—one of his close

friends—started crying. She had taken mushrooms, also, and for the first time. She was cry-talking a stream of negative feelings, feelings of being inadequate, incapable of responding normally to being “high.” She seemed to be going through a painfully remembered (or imagined) childhood experience, and we became uncomfortably aware that we had two “patients” on our hands. it was a long night. The next morning we all got up, got to breakfast, and seemed none the worse for wear. We didn’t discuss the events of the night with either “patient.” But we wondered how much of what they were experiencing was a reliving of

traumatic early experiences. 8 it was late November, i rene and i were walking through San francisco’s Golden Gate Park. We entered the Strybing Arboretum because it looked like it had lots of trees and seemed promising for mushrooms, which we were not seeing elsewhere in Golden Gate Park. Almost immediately we encountered a young guy with a handful of mushrooms. “What are you going to do with those?” i asked. “Eat ’em,” was his only reply. i looked at what he had, and he was more than willing to show me his collection. He had a bunch of Psathyrella , a couple of Tubaria , and a number of Psilocybes. i told him that the Psilocybes looked like they were bluing, which meant that they were psychoactive. He replied that they all were. i tried to correct him, but it was hopeless. “ i eat ’em all, and it always works,” he said. He went on his way, and we on ours. We passed an area mulched in wood chips, and there was a squirrel in the middle of it holding a mushroom! it was a Psathyrella. i took a photo or two before it moved away. We went to the spot and found it must have been the place the young man had just collected his mushrooms. There were Psathyrellas, tubarias, and Psilocybes. The Psilocybe was P. cyanescens , a pretty distinctive species with a wavy cap. We collected some. We ate a couple of caps each. i rene ate the stems as well, but i thought they were too chewy and somewhat bitter. We continued to walk about the arboretum, and it wasn’t long before our legs were starting to feel rubbery. We sat down on a park bench. i looked into her eyes. They were glowing a kind of emerald green, a color that seemed to come from an ancient forest on the shores of a deep green sea. i felt i had been anesthetized, unable to move, barely able to speak. it started raining. We seemed to be glued to the park bench. The sidewalk in front of us broke up into geometric figures, no longer rectangles, but now all manner of free floating objects, assembling and re- assembling themselves. We tucked our legs up under us. The grass beyond the path had tips that were glowing yellow, and in the distance there was a line of tall trees that became giant prehistoric birds, somewhat ostrich-like perhaps, standing on one leg, the other tucked up underneath, with heavy bodies moving back and forth in the wind. They weren’t

menacing, just there. The whole scene continued this way, in the rain, for an hour or so. We thought we could trust our legs to walk, and got up and walked out of the park. The rain had let up but it had gotten dark, and i was attracted

to the bright red taillights of the cars on the road. i tried to reach them, to touch the lights, but was moved out of harm’s way. We made it back to where we were staying, somewhat giddy about the whole experience. What had we experienced? Perhaps it was something Jung described, archetypes in geometric patterns, in fairy tale form of giant, looming prehistoric birds, a world beyond the quotidian, Blake’s infinity in a grain of sand; or perhaps not.

9 We were a group of seven or so. two

of us were emergency room physicians. We were out on Long i sland at a friend’s house. We had a quantity of dried Gymnopilus spectabilis , the Big Laughing Gym mushroom. it does not seem to contain psilocybin, but it does contain something very similar. it does not produce hallucinations but it does seem to be able to separate people temporarily from their inhibitions and anxieties. it is also intensely bitter and cannot be eaten raw or cooked without some kind of flavoring that can overpower the bitterness. We had dried a collection and we were eating them as crackers heavily covered with fruit preserves. Each of us had one or two three-inch dried caps. o ne person soon developed cramps, which she alleviated by standing on her head in the corner of a room for an hour or so. o ne of the doctors went outside and sat by a swimming pool. Although nothing tragic happened, it was a mistake to have taken mushrooms that can compromise our ability to see danger, and our reflexes to respond to an emergency. Another person found a tree in the yard that he latched onto and proceeded to slowly walk around and around, never letting go of the tree, for what seemed over an hour. When we asked him later what he did, he answered that he went for a walk. When we asked the emergency room physician sitting by the pool what he saw he said “pink dolphins.” i saw people in the distance getting on horses. What i thought i saw was the unfolding of a moment in our evolutionary past. A pair of primates had suddenly become erect and bipedal. Continued on page 50.

Notes from Under- ground by David Rose
Notes from
Under- ground

Psilocybe and Psychedelics; or, Timothy Leary in Baltimore

Recent history is the record of a vast conspiracy to impose one level of mechanical consciousness on mankind and exterminate all manifestations of that unique part of human sentience, identical in all men, which the individual shares with his Creator. The suppression of contemplative individuality is nearly complete. – Allen Ginsberg, 1959. 1

o ne could come down with

a terrible case of political

mushrooms from reading the

findings of the Johns Hopkins university psilocybin study and its sequelae in the media. The inordinate attention given to the study should not come as a surprise given the volatility of the subject. Possession of psilocybin, the psychoactive principle of many mushrooms in the genus Psilocybe , has been a federal crime in the u.S. since 1968, a year marked by unprecedented brutality and violence culminating in

the election of Richard Nixon. Yet 1968 is recalled for a profound revolution in consciousness thanks, in part, to the widespread use of mind-altering chemicals that promised far better for humanity than tear gas, napalm, and

dioxin. The Johns Hopkins study has garnered attention as a miraculous thaw after decades of enforced neglect into inquiry about psychedelics, for its research has confirmed that psilocybin is remarkable for its ability to provoke profound religious experiences with lasting benefits. The titles of the resulting journal articles summarize the findings quite neatly. The first, “Psilocybin can occasion mystical- type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance” by Roland R. Griffiths, William A. Richards, una McCann, and Robert Jesse was published in Psychopharmacology in 2006. The second, “Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal

meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later,” by Griffiths et al., appeared two years later in the Journal of Psychopharmacology . The conclusion that psilocybin “occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences” is presented as a scientific breakthrough of significance, but the irony remains that this is most certainly not news to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about psilocybin. 2 This conclusion is rather like the jejune discussions one finds in a forum such as the “Science times” section of The New York Times whose headlines serve up self-evident banalities like “New Study Shows Depressed People Are Sad.” i f a shred of hopefulness can also be occasioned by the Johns Hopkins

findings, it will hardly be enough to warrant dancing in the streets over the forthcoming repeal of repressive drug laws. This thaw will scarcely mitigate the continuing deep freeze on Psilocybe and may only perpetuate

it as neuroscience becomes vested in

its control. That the psilocybin study was permitted at all, sanctioned as it was by the National i nstitute for Drug Abuse, is far more remarkable than the conclusion reached. The significance of the study is wholly political and not scientific; to be understood at all, it must be situated in its deeper historical context – one that is rife with stupendous and bitter controversy –

and then examined with a cold eye, lest it elude us entirely. o n the surface, the study was a rigorously controlled experiment designed to demonstrate whether or not persons having no previous experience with psychedelics might reach a state of consciousness described as “mystical” by ingesting high doses of psilocybin. Participants afterwards rated and described their drug sessions in twenty psychological rating scales and questionnaires recording various subjective data from “sensitivity to hallucinogens” to “spiritual transcendence.” o ver 50 percent of the participants rated the psilocybin trips (not Dr. Griffiths’ word) among the top five most personally meaningful experiences of their lives. The study was not designed to test the utility of psilocybin in psychotherapy, nor was it intended as a basis from which to advocate for or against any change in policy or legislation regarding proscribed drugs other than the inevitable suggestion about the need for “further research” once its conclusions had been published. What clamors most for correction is the claim that “a systematic study of such effects has been almost nonexistent,”

a statement fixated in a disregard for

history that fosters a misperception that scientific investigation of psilocybin has never been attempted or even

considered before. Yet the singular conclusion drawn from positive measures of mystical experience was carefully expressed by Dr. Griffiths:

“When administered under supportive conditions, psilocybin occasioned experiences similar to spontaneously occurring mystical experiences. The

ability to occasion such experiences prospectively will allow rigorous scientific investigations of their causes and consequences.” 3 But compare that bland caution to the Baltimore City Paper ’s salutary extrapolation that “psychedelic drugs offer the potential for profound, transformative, and long- lasting positive changes in properly prepared individuals.” 4 Should we dare to suggest “positive changes for society” as well? Since 1968 however, such expressions of hopeful enthusiasm have been damned as misguided defense of “drug abuse;” uncontrolled personal experience is dismissed as “anecdotal;” and science in service to people has been ignored and willfully forgotten. i mplicit in the Johns Hopkins study are the suppression of history and the denial of spiritual experience grounded in the colossal hegemony of drug control via the u.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the White House o ffice of National Drug Control Policy, and the National i nstitute of Drug Abuse (N i DA). As Hunter Thompson once quipped, “the brutal reality of politics alone would probably be intolerable without drugs.” The history of the truncated research into psychedelics and human personality has been treated

into psychedelics and human personality has been treated One of the first popular studies of psychedelics,

One of the first popular studies of psychedelics, personality, and psychotherapy; 1966.

in Psychedelics by Aaronson and o smond, in The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience by Masters and Houston, and in LSD Psychotherapy by Stanislav Grof. Grof has reviewed the history of psychedelic therapy in studies of model psychosis, the psychology of religion, and the treatment of mental disorders. Research and therapy conducted through the 1970s had been designed to expedite the psychotherapeutic process, to provoke reactions in hard- to-reach patients to resolve clinical conditions, and to treat cancer patients and aid the dying. After the Nixonian repression, the momentum of this research was effectively halted in the u.S. and much of the world. findings about the psychotherapeutic safety of LSD and psilocybin have been repeatedly demonstrated and are widely known. The long defunct Association for Psychedelic Therapy active in the Sixties has been superseded today by other organizations, but the thread of history that unites these groups as a trend of advocacy has yet to be charted. Dr. Griffiths was not attentive to this history, but then the study he supervised did not intend to be – it was, rather, clinical . i n actuality, the Johns Hopkins psilocybin study was nothing more than an exercise in legitimation. Since the legitimacy of research into psilocybin has long been questioned and thwarted, it had to be re-established and isolated in the white room of clinical purity if it was to shed viable spores for the N i DA. to this end, neuroscience and psychiatry collaborated to confirm the obvious. As an exercise in legitimation, the Hopkins psilocybin study is in essence a vindication of the path-breaking work of timothy Leary, the psychologist-prophet of the psychedelic revolution, branded by Nixon as “the most dangerous man in America.” Control, as William Burroughs made painfully clear, is the ugly American. tim Leary’s demise from Boston Brahmin Harvard psychologist to untouchable outcast guru on the lam was strictly a function of the generous humanity of his vision to relinquish control of LSD and psilocybin to all people, coupled to the hysterical politics of reaction and fear of transformative drug experience. Leary’s starting point for the deliverance of humanity via

psychedelic illumination is precisely the conclusion of the Hopkins psilocybin study. i n 1963, Leary reported in The Psychedelic Review :

Three years ago, on a sunny afternoon in the garden of a Cuernavaca villa, i ate seven of the so-called “sacred mushrooms” which had been given to me by a scientist from the university of Mexico. During the next five hours, i was whirled through an experience which could be described in many extravagant metaphors but which was above all and without question the deepest religious experience of my life. 5

originally delivered as a lecture at a meeting sponsored by the Board of Theological Education of the Lutheran Church of America at the 71 st annual convention of the American Psychological Association, and later published in The

Psychological Association, and later published in The The “yen for instant Zen” spread from campus to

The “yen for instant Zen” spread from campus to campus like an epidemic of mononucleosis; 1966.

Politics of Ecstasy, Leary’s statement on the spiritual potential of Psilocybe is seminal. This, the reasoned observation of an eminent psychologist, was recast as the raving of a lunatic in the subsequent campaign of harassment that led to Leary’s arrest and incarceration for a

couple of joints of marijuana. The course of the story in its lamentable detail is found in a recent biography and in Leary’s Flashbacks. 6 in essence, it has taken science half a century to validate timothy Leary’s insight, an insight repeatedly achieved by countless college students and other seekers since the earliest LSD experiments were conducted by the C i A in the 1950s. Leary’s role as psychedelic guru remains vital to understanding the success of the Sixties counterculture in bringing an end to the war in Viet Nam; but its lesson here involves the manipulated discrediting of an accomplished academic and the wholesale crackdown on dissidence. Leary’s indiscretions and overstatements are outrageous only in light of the campaign of political persecution and vilification he endured. His mantra “ turn on, tune in, Drop o ut” was a masterpiece of sloganeering, but the forces of reaction distorted its meaning into a monstrous evil on par with the communist menace if not the Anti-Christ. The result was to criminalize the mushroom eater. The further result was to waste billions of dollars in a hopelessly futile drug war and ruin millions of lives in the name of ideological rectitude over who defines what consciousness is and what it means. in Flashbacks, Leary stated he believed that psilocybin would “accelerate behavior change.” He was exasperated with “practicing a profession that did not seem to work” and changed careers (i.e., dropped out) to embrace psychedelics in an honest effort to counteract the unhappiness, stupidity, and conflict in which humanity is mired, is still mired. Aldous Huxley told him straight out that one obstacle to his newfound religion- in-a-mushroom would be the Bible, i.e., the threat from established religion and America’s overzealous, pleasure-denying Puritanism. This was hardly news to Leary, for the Psilocybe of his inaugural trip had been provided by Gerhardt Braun of the university of Mexico who wrote on the suppression of Aztec use of teonanacatl by the Catholic Church. in 1960, Leary invited the poet Allen Ginsberg to Harvard to try psilocybin, and Allen came away so impressed that he and Leary began to consider the possibility of a “psychedelic revolution” to radicalize humankind with this life- changing experience of inner vision. Allen realized that while marijuana easily

provoked states of mindful attentiveness, psilocybin represented a revolutionary transformation of consciousness. Allen later wrote to his father from tangier that the “Harvard Mushroom professor came to visit… & is bringing Burroughs to Harvard to experiment in consciousness alteration.” 7 Leary later visited Allen in New York where they took psilocybin together with Jack Kerouac. on that occasion, Leary and Kerouac rushed out to the street to play football with a fresh loaf of rye bread. 8 As Allen’s understanding of psychedelics deepened, he came to believe that their essential character was to “inhibit conditioned reflexes.” He suggested that everyone take LSD at least once, though he later tempered the idea with emphasis on meditation that provides a ground for the natural unity of the experience. He insisted that any “tendency to bring police anxiety onto the scene will literally cause more traumatic damage to LSD users than the LSD itself.” 9 timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg shared the reputation as the era’s most vocal and conspicuous advocates for psychedelics – Leary as the “high priest of LSD” and Ginsberg as the “poet laureate” of not only the beat movement in literature but of an entire generation coming of age in the shadow of war and impending nuclear holocaust. Allen’s research on u.S. government complicity in drug trafficking was years ahead of its time, and he was called on to share his views on LSD with a Senate committee deliberating on a law to ban it entirely. it was a perfect opportunity to speak truth to power, and Allen did so with sincerity and vision. in a statement before a u.S. Senate Judiciary subcommittee on June 14, 1966, Allen asked for forbearance and sympathy in presenting his case for accepting LSD “with proper humanity and respect.” Allen could hardly have been addressing more intransigent foes of open-mindedness and consciousness expansion. By such men Allen was perceived as a dangerous bearded commie faggot left-wing hippie provocateur. And Jewish. “if we want to discourage use of LSD for altering our attitudes,” Allen told the committee, “we will have to encourage such changes in our society that nobody will need it to break through to common sympathy.” 10 it is difficult to imagine a more poignant statement on an issue about to turn sour beyond all recognition.

Allen’s honest assessment of the social context of psychedelics was rooted in Walt Whitman’s vision of democracy – the acid revolution carried the promise of democracy’s fulfillment. Allen cited three factors critical to a reasoned assessment of LSD, and his insights were spot-on: that “journalist panic” had exaggerated the dangers of psychedelics, that the actual dangers were minimal, and the potential for religious self-realization was inherent in the drug. in support of his plea for the benefits of LSD, he proposed 21 areas for systematic research on aspects of psychedelics and psychotherapy that included alcoholism, death and dying, obesity, depression, autism, addictions, homosexuality, and various modalities of psychotherapy the whole of which constituted an astute, well-researched review of the applications through which psychedelics might carry immediate benefit. Allen failed to win his case. Possession of LSD, psilocybin, and psilocin has been a federal crime since o ctober 24,

came under the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, which placed them in Schedule i, i.e., having a “high potential for abuse” and no accepted medical use. What the irrational taxonomy of this classification really means, as David Lensen points out in his book On Drugs, is that psilocybin has the highest “ratio of utility to danger,” i.e., it is used for getting high and nothing more. 11 in 1971, psilocybin was also proscribed under the united Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. President Nixon commissioned the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse in 1972 for recommendations about marijuana, which by then had become far and away the most popular illicit drug on college campuses as both the symbol and instrument of the countercultural protest against global war and eco-catastrophe. The commission stated that drug use is irresponsible when it “impedes integration into the economic and social system,” but when it recommended that marijuana not be criminalized, Nixon refused to read the report. The War on Drugs, in essence a program of social engineering, replaced the Viet Nam conflict as the militarization of America continued unabated. 12 in the 1972 presidential race that spawned the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation, the Republican smear campaign against Democrat George McGovern attempted to associate McGovern with “Acid, Amnesty, and Appeasement,” code words for chaos, dissidence, and treason. 13 Though the campaign against psychedelics had reached a climax, the twisted politics of “Acid, Amnesty, and Appeasement” still acts on the psyche like a splash of grappa for breakfast. A decade earlier Ginsberg had prophetically implored: When will we discover an America that will not deny its own God? Who takes up arms, money, police and a million hands to murder the consciousness of God? 14 The most omnivorously detailed work documenting the social turmoil of the Nixonian abyss is Ginsberg’s epic road poem, The Fall of America. Allen described it as a record of “the flux of car bus airplane dream consciousness Person during Automatic Electronic War years,” and he was the bardic third eye and mantra-chanting nerve net of consciousness confronting the robotic police state of America. Allen followed

the robotic police state of America. Allen followed Wherein we learn that marijuana leads to terminal

Wherein we learn that marijuana leads to terminal apathy, psychosis, and murder; 1971.

1968 with passage of the Staggers-Dodd bill (public law 90-639) which amended the food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. in 1970, proscription of these hallucinogens

Leary’s travails closely and gave his support at every turn. When Leary was jailed, Allen pressed for his release, even writing to Supreme Court Justice William o. Douglas to request an explanation for Leary’s incarceration, calling it unconstitutional. He raised money for Leary’s defense and visited him in folsom Prison. 15 in The Fall of America, Allen portrayed Leary as the author of a psychedelic Declaration of independence, unjustly silenced and denied liberty by the brain police:

Leary out of action– “a public menace…


judgment i.e. Shut up or Else

persons of tender years

psychiatric examination Loonybin or Slam 16


The Fall of America is a poetic documentary of intensity and moral conviction in which Allen also captured the psychobabble of the drug experience, as in the poem “Graffiti 12 tH Cubicle Men’s Room Syracuse Airport:”

Man, i’m really stoned out of my skull really o-Zoned – good old LSD the colors in here are so nice really fine colors and the floor tile is really outasight if you haven’t tried it you ought to since it is the only way to really get your head together by first getting it apart LSD forever. 17

Allen’s verbatim transposition of trippy graffiti from a lavatory into poetic form vividly documents the prevailing zeitgeist, but it also reminds us of the intrinsic connection of poesis and psychedelic experience as pure creativity. Maria Sabina’s mushroom velada ultimately came to be a vital source of this realization, but the poets and writers who plumbed consciousness through language and drugs in the Sixties also proved this out. Leary included the work of poet Charles olson in an early issue of The Psychedelic Review following olson’s experiments with the mushroom. tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test was an enormously popular and inventive language experiment disguised as a documentary novel. Wolfe brilliantly explored the tension between the extra- sensory athleticism of Ken Kesey’s merry pranksters and the buttoned-down fastidiousness of Leary’s ecclesiasticism at Millbrook where LSD was revered as a “sacrament.” in Richard Brautigan’s

Trout Fishing in America, vomiting at “Mushroom Springs” was a sly reference to the ingestion of Psilocybe, which turned up yet again as an herb to be smoked in Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan. Michael McClure’s essay on “The Mushroom” in Meat Science Essays appears alongside his triptych on peyote, heroin, and cocaine. McClure believed Psilocybe “opens you up so that you feel internally deep inside, and all around you, the utterly human and humane.” Just as Wolfe penetrated the intersubjectivity of shared psychedelic experience in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, McClure emphasized that with the mushroom, people are primary: “The strangest, most grotesque, and most glorious people on earth are selected and paraded in front of you. it’s one of the most elevated cosmic dramas ever seen.” 18 After the Sixties, interest in Psilocybe scuttled underground and spread into streams of psychedelia worlds apart from amateur mycology, even though some cross-over of interests occurred. There were strong pockets of interest in the northwest coast and in the San francisco Mycological Association, aided with reliable information from mycologists such as D. H. Mitchell, co-author of Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushroom Poisoning. terrence McKenna lit out for the territory and plunged fearlessly into an extended experiment with Psilocybe and psychoactive plants that lasted a lifetime. McKenna assumed the pseudonym “o. t. oss” in one of the first cultivation guides, Psilocybin:

Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide by “o. t. oss and o. N. o eric.” 19 The laws banning Psilocybe, however, usually divided the interests of psychonauts from the clubland of amateur mycology. in 1974, Harry Knighton, founder of the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), wrote to the Charleston, SC police department in defense of a student member of NAMA for collecting Psilocybe. Knighton’s complaint came to naught, and the student was charged with possession of Schedule i contraband. in a note entitled “Contrasts in the Carolinas” in The Mycophile, Knighton discussed the legal predicament of the student. The young man, who had been collecting mushrooms near a stable, was “accosted by a detective who confiscated his collection and his NAMA membership card.” After analysis of the mushrooms,

the student was arrested and charged with “possession of psilocybin for distribution.” Knighton stated that “this is our first experience with students or collectors being equated with the modern drug- cult.” in an appeal to members to notify NAMA of similar incidents, Knighton made it plainly clear that NAMA was more concerned about the bureaucratic “red tape” of obtaining collection permits for foray sites than with the injustice of seeing an innocent collector thrust behind bars for the suspicious contents of his collecting basket. That Psilocybe- mycophiles were dismissed as members of a “drug cult” and were therefore not “serious” collectors was one root of NAMA’s reluctance to take an activist stance on the politics of Psilocybe. NAMA thereafter remained aloof from the issue entirely. Knighton had contemptuously dismissed the book entitled A Key to the American Psilocybin Mushroom (1972) as “drivel,” and while the book contains both serious inaccuracies and tripped- out hosannas in praise of hallucinations unlikely to appeal to traditionalists, he complained, “the whole thing is wrapped in a plastic cover, no doubt to protect the user from the dung-hill habitat favored by the author.” Psilocybe thus came tainted with the (political) shit that it grows on, Knighton had no inclination to understand the motivation behind getting high, and NAMA’s journal McIlvainea never published an article on the subject save for minor asides in toxicology columns and Andrew Weil’s “The Psilocybin Mushroom Rituals of Maine,” an interesting but inconsequential historical piece. NAMA’s perspective on the agarics banished the genus Psilocybe to a Neverland a propos its position in political taxonomy as The o utlaw Mushroom. 20 Psilocybe-mycophiles were hungry for knowledge, but knowledge is dangerous, and the case of a little Golden Guide book on psychoactive plants provides an instructive example of how a whiff of knowledge is quashed. Golden Guide books were familiar to most everyone who grew up in the last fifty years interested in nature and science. The books were ubiquitous, simplistic, but fairly reliable guides to a host of subjects, directed to a younger audience. in 1976, the publisher, Western Publishing Company, released Hallucinogenic Plants, a Golden Guide written by Richard Evans

Schultes, the pre-eminent ethno-botanist of the Americas. in it, Schultes covered everything from Amanita muscaria to yage, identifying over a dozen species of Psilocybe and allies, and discussing the chemistry of psilocybin and ethnomycology. Morning glories, Datura, Cannabis, peyote cactus, and Amanita muscaria are depicted conspicuously on the cover. The price was $1.95 for a compact guide by a foremost expert on psychoactive plants and fungi, which slipped handily into one’s back pocket.

and fungi, which slipped handily into one’s back pocket. Knowledge of Psilocybe is dangerous: this Golden

Knowledge of Psilocybe is dangerous: this Golden Guide was suppressed; 1976.

Both the hardcover and paperback editions of Hallucinogenic Plants sold with such rapidity that Western Publishing refused to re-publish it, even though its market was assured. Here was

a book, not with recipes for psilocybin

synthesis, but rather simple, accurate

information about the mushrooms. 21 Yet

it was deemed entirely too dangerous

for re-release and remains out-of-print. Soon after, Psilocybe Mushrooms and their Allies by Paul Stamets was published in 1978, providing the first authoritative guide to the genus apart from professional monographs. Stamets revisited the subject with Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World in 1996, which is a masterpiece of the fully realized potential of a field guide grounded in practical science and a deep

appreciation of ethnohistory. The hard-shell empiricism of the Hopkins study seems impeccable, but who needs empiricism when, as Goethe claimed, the highest wisdom is to realize that every fact is already a theory. The political subjectivity infiltrating Dr. Griffiths’s use of language distances his experiment from the history of previous study. two of his terms, “anecdotal” and “drug abuse,” deserve comment. “Anecdotal” is a catch-all dismissal of the truth or validity of any subjective experience or cultural phenomenon. Thus, the experiences of those who passed the acid tests, Mazatec shamanism, the ceremony of the Native American Church, and the personal testimony of the Harvard Mushroom Professor are all baseless in the Johns Hopkins schema. Such dismissive spin on “the anecdotal” reconfigures the epistemology of mystical experience, blessing the clinical regime as superior in the hierarchy of legitimacy. Reference to the “epidemic of hallucinogen abuse that occurred in the 1960s” thus aligns the study with the state and legal sources of legitimation. Who defines drug abuse? “Drug abuse” is a concept shared by psychiatry with the police. Dr. Griffiths also appropriated the terms “set” and “setting” in implicit denial of Leary’s earlier use of these very terms. An examination of the selection bias in the study based on social class, education, and ethnicity of its participants might topple Dr. Griffiths’s stack of questionnaires, but the musical program used to guide his Psilocybe trippers reveals subjective bias quite vividly. Reclining on sofas and protected from visual distractions, the subjects listened to the Brahms Second Symphony, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and Samuel Barber’s Adagio. 22 Was there a control group listening to old Pat Boone records? or playing football in the street with a loaf of rye bread? The Brahms offers stimulating dynamics, but why not the Grateful Dead’s Dark Star of february 18, 1971 at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, New York? if anything, subjecting one’s subjects to Bach’s Mass contaminates the study with the Christian imagery of the Kyrie: Christ have mercy! Why not Kyrie Eleison by the Electric Prunes? Better still, John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth. if the protocol calls for Samuel Barber, try Music for a Scene from Shelley. The Johns Hopkins psilocybin

study seems to represent a sort of breakthrough, an indication of attitudes in transformation, a tiny flake from the fortress of intransigence. But somehow its claim to relevance shrinks to insignificance before the evidence that the whole thing has been so strictly policed. until Psilocybe mushrooms are freely available, and marketed freely, without restraint of law and fear from intimidation, violence, and terror intrinsic to America’s drug inquisition, the study holds promise solely for psychiatric career-making and pharmaceutical profits. it will continue to be cited as exemplary for all the wrong reasons as “further studies” pile higher and deeper to create a psilocybin bureaucracy to match the NiDA’s marijuana bureaucracy. in actuality, the experiment smothered the revelatory mystique of psilocybin in a bloated excess of methodology. That its battery of prepared questionnaires legitimated timothy Leary’s quest remains its crowning irony, but its overseers will veer away from this implication as the discourse of “neurochemical systems” and “counterbalanced methods” continues to shroud outlaw mushrooms in the fogbank of science for a single purpose:

to perpetuate control. Dr. Herbert Kleber bemoans the fate of scientific research forestalled by the “street use of these agents,” knowing full well that it is criminalization and not street use, that

has foreclosed scientific inquiry for nearly five decades. 23 Satisfied that psychedelics have not reached “the same penetration” of popularity as in the Sixties, Dr. Kleber seems blissfully unaware of the breadth of recent 420 observances in celebration of another Schedule i substance. The contradiction inherent in Kleber’s political justification thrusts the legacy of the Johns Hopkins study into the abyss of paranoia attended so efficiently by the watchdogs of the NiDA. instead of illumination, we are given a piffling reminder that the “legal” use of psilocybin

is securely in the hands of bureaucrats.

Meanwhile, in mason jars and Petri dishes, from Berkeley to tallahassee, thousands of fruiting bodies of Psilocybe

cubensis are nosing their way upward into the light of day. March 13, 2011 saw the death of

o wsley Stanley, whose role as arch-

chemist of the psychedelic revolution was legendary in the countercultural

exuberance to cleanse the doors of perception. in his private labs o wsley manufactured millions of doses of pure LSD that energized the acid tests of 1965. Deservedly lionized as the sound engineer for the Grateful Dead in their glory days, he proved for all time that chemistry trumps politics. to paraphrase Swift, o wsley did more essential service for his country than the whole race of politicians put together. The fugs, in their album Tenderness Junction, rendered timothy Leary’s famous slogan into an electrified exhortation for “middle-age, middle-brow, middle-class whiskey drinkers” to TURN ON / TUNE IN / DROP OUT! The fugs’ tuli Kupferberg, who died July 2010, was memorialized in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl as the person who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. tuli was a mordant wit, poetic radical, and unrepentant street anarchist, and late in life he had this to say about the youth culture that embraced psychedelics in the flower of Sixties dissidence:

We haven’t retreated from 1968. Almost everything we believed in is correct. We’re biding our time, and still keeping in shape. The world is going to hell in a computer; we need radical changes. The problem is no one knows quite what to do, since the old theories of Marxism and anarchism are rather inadequate. So we need a lot of new ideas and ways of putting them into reality. And everybody who is reading this better get to work. That’s my message. 24

Th e i ncredible String Band posed acid politics as a pair of half-remarkable, never-realized questions: What is it that we are part of? What is it that we are? Science and Dr. Griffiths will have a tough time trying to weigh in on existential imponderables. “With all your science can you tell how it is, and whence it is, that light comes into the soul?” So asked Henry David Thoreau in his magnificent journal. The divine Henry David had no experience with shrooms (presumably), but he had quite the knack for provoking never- realized questions. Neuroscience and psychiatry, on the other hand, consider the soul either an epiphenomenon of mind or a mere will-o’-the-wisp, a quaint and outmoded figment to be explained away. The flash in the soul brought on by shrooms doesn’t need to be privileged by neuroscientists and psychiatrists. Psilocybin is chemical

Figure 1.

software, requiring but an open mind, fine-tuned education, and guided preparation to begin the personal search for half- remarkable answers. The inevitable cautions about safety and risks may be balanced against gonzo prescriptions like “when in doubt, double the dose.” Surely we won’t want airline pilots and pregnant women to trip out, but the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis once demonstrated that it’s possible to pitch a no-hitter “high as a Georgia pine” on acid. Psilocybin won’t necessarily alter your inauthentic existence, banish feelings of loneliness and alienation, or penetrate the thick rind of your false consciousness … but then again, it might. So, Godspeed, good neuroscientists! take a giant step outside your mind! As Allen Ginsberg sang in his holy epigram to Howl : – Unscrew the locks from the doors! Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs! 25 Endnotes

1 Allen Ginsberg, “Poetry, Violence, and the trembling Lambs, or i ndependence Day Manifesto” (4 July 1959) in Deliberate Prose: Selected Essays, 1952-1995 (2000) Perennial, pp. 3-5.

2 R. R. Griffiths et al., “Psilocybin can occasion mystical- type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance” (2006) Psychopharmacology , 187: 268-83; R. R. Griffiths et al., “Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later” (2008) Journal of Psychopharmacology , 22(6):621-32.

3 Griffiths, op cit , 2006.

4 Michael M. Hughes, “Sacred i ntentions: i nside the Johns

Michael M. Hughes, “Sacred i ntentions: i nside the Johns 3 0 F U N G

30 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

Hopkins Psilocybin Studies” Baltimore City Paper , o ctober 8, 2008.

5 timothy Leary, “The Religious Experience: its Production and i nterpretation,” (1963) The Psychedelic Review , 1(3):


6 Robert Greenfield, Timothy Leary: A Biography (2006) Harcourt.

7 Allen and Louis Ginsberg, Family Business: Selected Letters between a Father and Son (2001) Bloomsbury, p. 157

8 Bill Morgan, I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg (2006) Viking Penguin, p. 324.

9 Allen Ginsberg, “A National Hallucination” (1966) in Deliberate Prose , p. 84.

10 Allen Ginsberg, “ u.S. Senate Statement,” June 14, 1976, in Deliberate Prose , pp. 67-82, first published in the Congressional Record.

11 David Lensen, On Drugs (1995), university of Minnesota, pp. 4-6.

12 See Dan Baum, Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure (1996) Little, Brown; and Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD, and the Sixties Rebellion (1985) Grove Press.

13 Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 (1976) Grand Central Publishing, p. 200.

14 Allen Ginsberg, “Poetry, Violence, and the trembling Lambs,” p. 5.

15 Allen and Louis Ginsberg, op. cit ., pp. 314-14; 341; 343;


16 Allen Ginsberg, “Crossing Nation” in The Fall of America:

Poems of These States, 1965-1971 (1972) City Lights Books, pp. 90-91.

17 Allen Ginsberg, “Graffiti 12 t H Cubicle Men’s Room Syracuse Airport:” in The Fall of America (1972) City Lights Books, pp. 137-38.

18 Michael McClure, “The Mushroom,” in Meat Science Essays (1966) City Lights, pp. 32-39.

19 o. t. o ss & o. N. o eric, Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide (1976) And/ o r Press.

20 “Contrasts in the Carolinas” The Mycophile , July/August 1974, 15(4):2; “Strange i nterlude” The Mycophile , May/ June 1972, 13(3):4; Andrew Weil “The Psilocybin Mushrooms Rituals of Maine” McIlvainea , 1981,


21 Richard Evans Schultes Hallucinogenic Plants (1976) The Golden Press: Racine, W i .

22 Michael M. Hughes, op. cit .

23 Herbert D. Kleber, “Commentary on: Psilocybin can ”

occasion mystical-type experiences Psychopharmacolog


24 tuli Kupferberg, liner notes for Electromagnetic Steamboat: The Reprise Recordings , by The fugs (2001) Warner Bros Records, RHM2 7759.

25 i ncredible String Band, “The Half-Remarkable Question,” in Wee Tam & the Big Huge (2000, orig. 1968) f ledgling Records, f LED 3079; Henry David Thoreau, The Journal, 1837-1861 (2009) New York Review Books, p. 60; on Dock Ellis, see James Blagden “Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No” (2009) at www; see taj Mahal “ take a Giant Step;” Allen Ginsberg’s epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass .

epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass . By Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The
epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass . By Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The
epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass . By Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The
epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass . By Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The
epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass . By Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The
epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass . By Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The
epigram is from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass . By Michael W. Beug Professor Emeritus, The

By Michael W. Beug

Professor Emeritus, The Evergreen State College, P. o. Box 116, Husum, WA 98623,

privacy. “Eva Mendez” was actually the Mazatec healer, Maria Sabina, who was to become quite famous. it was the night of June 29-30, 1955

“in a Mexican i ndian village so remote that most of the people still speak no Spanish, my friend Allan Richardson and i shared with a

family of i ndian friends

a celebration of ‘Holy

communion’ where ‘divine’ mushrooms were first adored and

then consumed.” it was

a ceremony of mixed

Christian and pre- Christian elements. “The mushrooms were of a species with hallucinogenic powers; that is, they cause the eater to see visions. We chewed

of certain i ndian peoples living far from the great world in southern Mexico. No anthropologist had ever described the scene that we witnessed.” figure 2 shows pages 102-103 of the famous article with an image of the house where the mushrooms were consumed and images

of the house where the mushrooms were consumed and images o n May 13, 1957, a

o n May 13, 1957, a Life magazine article by R. Gordon Wasson brought the ritual

use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico to the attention of readers in North America and a new age, the psychedelic 60s, was about to begin. The title of Wasson’s now famous Life

magazine article was “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” and the opening spread

( figure 1, pp 100-101) shows Curandera

“Eva Mendez” preparing for the ceremony by smoking the mushrooms in burning aromatic leaves. Wasson and his Russian-born wife, Valentina, had spent four summers in the remote mountains of Mexico seeking the mushrooms with vision-giving powers and in this article Wasson changed the names of the Mixeteco i ndians to protect their

and swallowed these acrid mushrooms, saw visions, and emerged from the experience awestruck… Richardson and
and swallowed these acrid mushrooms,
saw visions, and emerged from the
experience awestruck… Richardson and
i were the first white men in recorded
history to eat these divine mushrooms,
which for centuries have been a secret
of Wasson first taking his ration of six
pairs of mushrooms from Curandera
“Eva Mendez” and then, following
custom, chewing them slowly, taking
about one half hour to eat. This was the
second night, when Allan Richardson
FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011 31

3. Figure 2.Figure

Figure 5.

3. Figure 2.Figure Figure 5. photographed the ceremony rather than partaking again, and so we have
3. Figure 2.Figure Figure 5. photographed the ceremony rather than partaking again, and so we have

photographed the ceremony rather than partaking again, and so we have the images on pages 104-105 ( figure

3) of the ceremony that was held in an underground room in complete blackness photographed by pointing the flash towards

blackness photographed by pointing the flash towards audible sounds. for the hordes of mostly young people

audible sounds. for the hordes of mostly young people who would soon descend on this region, the next pages, 106- 107, became like a biblical guide, for they contain “Rare vision-giving fungi shown for the first time”

( figure 4). o n his last trip to southern

Mexico before writing the Life article, Wasson was accompanied by Professor Roger Heim, a mycologist and head of france’s Muséum National d’History Naturells. Heim would collect and name many of these magic mushrooms. There was the prized Psilocybe mexicana Heim, found in pastures (see figure 13 in the accompanying article “The genus Psilocybe in North America” by M. Beug in this issue of fu NG i ); the “Crown of Thorns,” Psilocybe zapotecorum Heim, found on marshy ground (see figure 13, Psilocybe hoogshagenii Heim sensu lato , in the accompanying article Beug); the “Mushroom of Superior Reason,” Psilocybe caerulescens Murrill var . nigripes Heim also found on marshy ground (see figure 4 in the accompanying article by Beug); and “Children of the Waters,” Psilocybe aztecorum Heim, found on woody debris (see figure 18 in the accompanying article by Beug). There was also the abundant Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer , found on dung ( figure 5). Psilocybe cubensis was to become the low-potency less desirable Psilocybe served to uninformed gringos who would soon be flooding to Mexico in pursuit of the Magic Mushrooms. About his experiences Wasson said

“ for the first time the word ecstasy

took on real meaning. for the first time it did not mean someone else’s state of mind.” But Wasson also issued a caution that was soon to be lost on the masses: “hallucinogenic mushrooms must be treated with extreme caution. Among the i ndians, their use is hedged with restrictions of many kinds. unlike ordinary mushrooms, these are never sold in the marketplace, and no i ndian dares to eat them frivolously, for excitement. The i ndians themselves speak of their use as muy delicado, that is, perilous” (p. 106). fast forward to the present and an article hot off the presses as i write this. The title is “Hallucinogens as Medicine” and it appeared in the December 2010 Scientific American (Griffiths and Grob, 2010). Roland Griffiths is the lead investigator of the psilocybin research initiative at Johns Hopkins. Charles Grob’s research at u CLA includes looking at psilocybin for treating anxiety in cancer patients. “Early results from the

new trials point to the promise of these

Figure 4.
Figure 4.

therapies, with some patients reporting profound spiritual experiences and, hence, the ability to make important life changes… understanding how mystical experiences can engender benevolent attitudes towards oneself and others will, in turn, aid in explaining the well-documented role of spirituality in psychological well-being and health.” But they also caution that “ i n the Johns Hopkins study, even after careful screening and at least eight hours of preparation with a clinical psychologist, about a third of the participants experienced some period of significant fear and about a fifth felt paranoia sometime during the session… other potential risks of hallucinogens include prolonged psychosis, psychological distress, or disturbances in vision or other senses lasting days or even longer.” i n unsupervised situations, they report that paranoia following mushroom usage has led to accidental injuries and even suicide. When the Life magazine article was written, no one yet knew what drug

magazine article was written, no one yet knew what drug was present in the mushrooms. it

was present in the mushrooms. it was Albert Hoffman, a Swiss researcher working for Sandoz Pharmaceuticals who successfully isolated and synthesized the two principal active ingredients of the magic mushrooms, announcing his success in the late 1950s. He named one compound

phosphate group, P, and its surrounding oxygens in the figure 6, leaving an – o H

group in its place). Psilocin is the more potent of the two chemicals, but since the G i tract quickly dephosphorylates psilocybin, it matters little which drug you ingest – they both wind up as psilocin as they enter circulation and mimic serotonin ( figure 7) in the brain.

A few years before, Albert Hoffman

had synthesized LSD-25, one of many derivatives of lysergic acid he was making in a search for a drug to help stop excessive bleeding in childbirth. The lysergic acid is isolated from ergot, the resting stage of the fungus Claviceps purpurea . Ergot, a contaminant in grain that looks much like a blackened kernel


wheat, was known to produce feelings


intense heat followed by severe loss of

psilocybin (figure 6) and the other psilocin. Psilocin is

simply a psilocybin molecule that has been dephosphorylated (loss of the

blood flow, resulting in a gangrene-like condition, leading, in severe cases, to the loss of
blood flow, resulting in a gangrene-like
condition, leading, in severe cases, to
the loss of arms and legs. The condition,
produced by ergotamine, is known as
Figure 6.
Figure 7.
produced by ergotamine, is known as Figure 6. Figure 7. 3 2 F U N G

gangrenous ergotism but because of the intense fire-like pain of the early stages of the disease became known as St. Anthony’s fire (Hudler, 1998a). Madness also often accompanied accidental ergot consumption and was caused by two compounds in Ergot, ergine and lysergic acid hydroxyethylamide, the target of Hoffman’s research (Hudler, 1998a) . The discovery of the hallucinatory effect of LSD-25 was purely an accident resulting, Hoffman believed, from the absorption of tiny amounts of LSD directly through his skin. it was Albert Hoffman’s fascination with the effects of LSD (and the consequent massive self-experimentation with LSD by Hoffman and many other researchers at Sandoz) that led Hoffman to also investigate Psilocybe species to see what caused them to produce hallucinations so remarkably similar to LSD. He knew that LSD produced hallucinations that were much longer lasting than the hallucinations produced by Psilocybe species (on average 12 hours for LSD versus 6 hours for the mushrooms) but the hallucinations were otherwise exceptionally similar in nature. Were the active ingredients of the Psilocybe mushrooms at all structurally similar to LSD, a slight modification of a metabolite from the mushroom Claviceps purpurea? to the untrained eye, the answer is no, LSD is a much more complicated molecule. But at their core, the two molecules share a very similar indole

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backbone and both would be expected to bind to the same receptors in the brain – albeit bind with different strengths. LSD binds much more strongly and thus it is no surprise that it is both effective at a much lower dosage and effective for much longer – much too long in my humble opinion. LSD is also much more likely to cause long-term adverse effects and “flashbacks.” i n the 1950s, R. Gordon Wasson and his associates were not alone in traveling to Mexico to learn about the ancient mushroom rituals of the i ndian peoples. Blasius P. Reko, Richard E Schultes and others were also involved in rediscovering and documenting the use of psilocybin mushrooms in shamanic ceremonies by indigenous Mesoamerican peoples. They uncovered quite convincing evidence that the shamanic rituals that they were observing were remnants of ancient religion practiced by Aztec and Mayan civilizations, modified little by the overlay of Catholicism introduced by the Spanish. Their evidence included “mushroom stones” and other archeological evidence, plus they were able to uncover some obscure writings by one early monk that survived despite Catholic Church attempts to wipe out all ancient knowledge of these peoples and to persecute users of magic mushrooms. Schultes and others came to realize that Psilocybe mexicana was esteemed as a holy sacrament called teonanacatl (God’s flesh) in Aztec (see Stamets, 1996). i n the summer of 1960, timothy Leary was vacationing in Cuernavaca when he tried the mushrooms, purchased from a street peddler (Hudler, 1998b). The influx of thrill-seekers after the Life article was already having a profound effect on southern Mexico and the societal prohibitions regulating use of Psilocybe mushrooms were already fraying. As a psychotherapist and newly appointed director of the Center for Research in Personality at Harvard university, Dr. Leary felt that the mushrooms could form the basis for his newly proposed existential approach to psychotherapy, where the therapist becomes immersed in the patient’s psychological turmoil. The mind-altering mushrooms would allow the therapist to reach the mental state of the disturbed. Leary had been told by his superiors to shake things up at Harvard, and at this

he was possibly too successful. Within six weeks of his return from Cuernavaca, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals had granted Dr. Leary four bottles of psilocybin pills for research. Along with a colleague, Richard Alpert (who was to change his name to Ram Dass) and several graduate students, timothy Leary began experiments to learn the effects of dosage and place, soon moving from classroom to his home and student residences to escape the sterility of academia. undergraduates began to hear rumors of psilocybin sessions turned orgy and demanded to be able to take part. Scandal ensued. traditional psychologists at Harvard began to express concerns in private but soon word of their displeasure reached the pages of the Harvard Crimson . timothy Leary added mescaline and LSD to his researches - recreational drug use was sweeping the country.

i n 1963 official concern came to a

head at Harvard and both timothy Leary and Richard Alpert were fired, only to go on to become cultural icons. i n the 1960s timothy Leary’s slogan was “ turn on, tune in, drop out.” Rebellious youth rioted against the Viet Nam War, smoked pot and tried all manner of hallucinogens – leading to increasing official consternation. Meanwhile the C i A and the military were exploring the potential for hallucinogenic drugs. At the very last Mycomedia® gathering (in 1999) at Breitenbush, a hot springs retreat in the oregon Cascades, we all jammed with Ken Kesey and his band, the Merry Pranksters, and listened while Ken told the audience of participating in those C i A drug experiments and clandestinely obtaining the keys to the locked cabinets with the various hallucinogens – and thus the birth of the “Kool Aid Acid” bus and his psychedelic tours about the u.S. with his Merry Pranksters. At Breitenbush at the end of o ctober, 1999, we were marking the end of the biennium. We even got to ride on the last incarnation of the famous bus. At this final Mycomedia® event (it had been about 15 years since we had last all been together) Paul Stamets had spared no expense to bring speakers from all over the world, shamans and scientists alike. it was the weekend of Halloween, the traditional time of year for the Mycomedia® gatherings, while choice

Evergreen faculty came from failed educational experiments elsewhere, experiments that were a product of the
Evergreen faculty came from failed
educational experiments elsewhere,
experiments that were a product of the
times. Rebellious faculty, having been
fired for participating in Civil Rights
marches and other protest activities like
the Viet Nam War protests, flooded to
Evergreen, whose doors opened to the
first faculty in 1970 and to students in
1971. Students who had departed from
multiple previous institutions poured in.
i was hired in 1972, somehow picked out
of the 10,000 faculty applications that
they had received (including, according
to mycologist Dr. Ron Peterson, an
application by his entire university
of tennessee Biology Department,
to bring their department intact to
Evergreen). i applied to Evergreen
merely because i wanted to live in the
Pacific Northwest, ski, fish and hunt
Figure 8.

edible mushrooms were still abundant in the forests around Breitenbush, and cooking demonstrations, often in the past by Dr. Andrew Weil (figure 8), were always part of the festivities. Halloween night there was a costume party. At the dance, Gary Lincoff was the most exquisitely costumed of all – in the authentic dress of a Siberian Shaman, obtained in his tours of the Russian far East in pursuit of ethnomycological knowledge – his talk had been on what he learned in that part of the world where Amanita muscaria is the mushroom of the shamans. As i listened to Gary, i came to realize that were this an earlier time or had Gary lived in Siberia, he would indeed have been one of those very special people, a shaman. i had agreed to be the guide that 1999 Halloween night for a writer/reporter who wanted to try magic mushrooms for the first time. i do not know what mushrooms were consumed or how many. But i do believe that i may have been one of the few who merely observed the proceedings. But far from what one might imagine from the descriptions of timothy Leary’s orgies, it was a sublimely quiet and peaceful evening. Some people danced a little but most sat quietly on cushions and couches, visiting at times but mostly turned inward and reflective. No one was loud, boisterous or rowdy. People came and went from the hot pools and the steam sauna. Participants enjoyed the beauty of the ancient forest and the old wooden meeting hall where we were

gathered. i wondered, once again, why these mushrooms are illegal.

i n 1968 the u.S. federal prohibition

of psilocybin and psilocin was passed. Possession was treated the same as possession of hard addicting drugs

like heroin and cocaine. The battle of timothy Leary and Richard Alpert and the Harvard administration was the focal event that led to the passage of this law. for the

first time, a drug of bright, affluent white kids had been banned. Research on hallucinogens at Harvard and elsewhere came to an abrupt end (Wark, 2010). The founding in the late 1960s of The Evergreen State College, an alternative college with evaluations rather than grades, team- taught integrated programs rather than courses and no specific course requirements, would soon provide a new venue. The emergence of this college at this time was no accident. Many of the early

mushrooms for dinner. i had not a clue what i was about to get into. i had tried marijuana a few times and was quite unimpressed. The most notable drug event of my young professional career had been the morning that i gave my last lecture at Harvey Mudd College before leaving to join the Evergreen faculty. The freshman women (there were about 20 or 30 women in all of Harvey Mudd

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in those days) invited me to their dorm for breakfast. it consisted of “brownies” and orange juice. i consumed half of a pan of the “brownies” and they had so much weed in them that i could barely get them down. i went on to my last lecture and indeed the rest of the day totally unaffected! The girls were most disappointed. Back when i had started graduate school, the one thing that was clear to me was that i never would be a teacher – i was headed for industry. But several months before completing my PhD, my advisor had asked me to see what effect DDt and some other pesticides had on Carbonic Anhydrase, the enzyme system that was the focus of my research. The resultant paper was accepted by the journal Biochemistry , but the editor said that the work was so important that i needed to also publish an article either in the journal Science or in the British Journal Nature. But a Science reviewer rejected my article and then sent in the paper essentially word for word under his name, eventually resulting in two Nobel Laureates intervening on my behalf, and my article was also published in Science. i had not yet read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring , and knew not what i had done.

i ndustry then twisted the meaning of

my work to “prove” that DDt could not be causing egg shell thinning in birds. to make amends, i wrote to a leading ornithological researcher at Cornell university suggesting the course of research that might undo the damage i had inadvertently done. He wrote back – to my thesis advisor – thanking him for the sage advice. i was then thoroughly scolded by my advisor for giving away research ideas. These two events were focal points turning me away from both industry and university research and to academia at small colleges. Arriving at Evergreen, i was a physical chemist with not the slightest interest in biology and my mycological training consisted of one previous adult education course at the university of Washington under Dr. Daniel Stuntz.

But no one else on the faculty knew anything at all about mushrooms and so the students came to me. Paul Stamets, Jeremy Bigwood and Jonathan o tt all showed up in the mid-1970s. Psilocybe mushrooms were not mentioned in any of my field guides and i thought that they were restricted to southern

36 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

Mexico. These students quickly taught me otherwise, and my research was transformed. At Evergreen i had initially become an Environmental Chemist. My colleague, Dr. Steve Herman, and our students had just completed the research that secured the final ban on the use of DDt in North America (my amends were now complete), another group of our students had done the research that ultimately helped close a smelter that was covering tacoma, Washington, with arsenic and yet another group worked on PCBs in marine mammals and formed a research cooperative still in operation today. Prominent u.S. Senators from the cotton belt were trying to get us both fired, as were the City of tacoma, the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and officials from Hawaii (because of some pesticide related research). for still other research we were also considered a threat to the now defunct aluminum smelting industry along the Columbia River. The EPA and the NSf were funding much of our work but the EPA itself was so under threat that the head of the u.S. EPA even came to Evergreen to meet personally with our students and explain the predicament that they were in with Congress. After this, i was politically radicalized and mushroom research was a welcome relief. Paul Stamets, Jeremy Bigwood and i set out to discover which mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest were potentially hallucinogenic and which were not. Jeremy Bigwood knew the West Coast head of the DEA (how that came about remains a mystery to Paul and me to this day – but i will not repeat our theories here). Soon, seekers of magic mushrooms were all over western Washington and western o regon. They

and prison exercise yards. Paul Stamets (figure 9) was to

work with me for the next four years and completed his Bachelor’s degree

– i was his only professor. for his

capstone senior project, Paul completed the manuscripts for his first two books, which were soon published. one manuscript became Psilocybe Mushrooms and their Allies and the other, with coauthor Jeff Chilton, became The Mushroom Cultivator , soon to be a major book used, not only to start thriving edible mushroom growing businesses, but also as a guide for the cultivation of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Figure 10.
Figure 10.

Jeremy Bigwood ( figure 10), who

never seemed interested in completing

a degree, instead worked with me as a

registered undergraduate for roughly six years. His focus was mushroom cultivation as well as chemistry. He had coauthored (under an alias) Psilocybin:

Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide ( o ss and o eric, 1976 & 1986) and in 1978 coauthored with Jonathan o tt the book Teonanacatl: Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of North America. While Paul stayed pretty focused on mushrooms, Jeremy was interested in all hallucinogenic plants, using that interest to prepare

list of all of the plants and spices containing controlled substances that one could purchase
list of all of the plants and spices
containing controlled substances that
one could purchase at Safeway®. i used
that list in a frontal approach on the
law against psilocybin and psilocin
possession while as an expert witness
in a trial of a person who had been
cultivating Psilocybe cubensis. The
arguments were that 1) the law provided
no list of which mushrooms it was illegal
to possess and 2) there was unequal
application of the law since Safeway®
Figure 9.

were swarming farm fields, critically examining mulch and wood chip beds, and were stooped over on athletic fields

was never prosecuted for their sale of hallucinogenic materials. i did succeed in getting threatened with a citation for

of psilocybin and psilocin. The person championing Amanita muscaria was R. Gordon Wasson, a Vice
of psilocybin and psilocin. The person
championing Amanita muscaria was R.
Gordon Wasson, a Vice President of J. P.
Morgan & Co, a staid New York banker.
Psilocybin and psilocin and LSD were
championed by timothy Leary and many
other flamboyant individuals.
The age of ethnomycology, initially
developed by R. Gordon Wasson, was
also taking off. The champions were
Figure 11.

contempt of court. i did not succeed in protecting the grower from prison.

Jonathan o tt was a prolific writer. i n addition to his previously mentioned book with Jeremy Bigwood, he wrote Hallucinogenic Plants of North America

( o tt, 1976) and published articles on

psilocybin in fungi ( o tt and Guzmán, 1976; o tt and Pollock, 1976). Jonathan never liked the term hallucinogen and coined the term “entheogen,” but though he championed the term for years, it never caught on. Jonathan became a close friend of R. Gordon Wasson and soon left Evergreen to work on Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina with Dr. Scott Chilton (figure 11) at the university of Washington. i nterestingly, even though ibotenic acid and muscimol, the active ingredients of these Amanita species, are potent mind-altering drugs with a very narrow dose-response curve (it is easy to get too much) and very nasty side-effects, neither ibotenic acid nor muscimol were ever made illegal. They never got the notoriety

Figure 12.
Figure 12.

Jonathan o tt, terrance McKenna,

Andrew Weil, Jochen Gartz and others.

i still vividly remember when Jochen

Gartz first contacted me from what was then Communist East Germany – he wanted vouchers of the Pacific Northwest Psilocybe species that Paul, Jeremy and i were working on. What to do? There was no legal way to respond to the request but i packaged up the requested specimens, labeled them “dried material for scientific research” and put them in the mail. Much to my amazement, it worked. The Evergreen students formed a core group that organized two international hallucinogenic mushroom conferences

in the 1970s, the first one held at Millersylvania State Park near o lympia, Washington, in 1976 and the second at fort Worden in Port townsend, Washington, in 1977. At the 1977 conference R. Gordon Wasson, Albert Hoffman and Carl Ruck

first postulated that the use of psychoactive fungi lay at the heart of the Eleusinian mysteries (ancient Greek religious ceremonies that persisted for 2,000 years, yet whose ceremony’s secrets could not be mentioned – under pain of death). These early conferences were followed by a conference on o rcas i sland in the San Juan i slands of Washington and then by

a series of conferences

at Breitenbush in the o regon Cascades organized by Mycomedia® with Paul Stamets as the principal driving force of the organization. i believe that Dr. Andrew Weil, a young MD from Harvard,

interested in alternative medicine, drug use and abuse, and mushroom use, attended every one of these conferences. He was to become a very close friend of Paul Stamets and he provided us both with much sage advice on the importance of set and setting in the use of psilocybin mushrooms. These conferences also attracted Dr. Gastón Guzmán ( figures 11 and 13), who would write a monograph to the genus Psilocybe and become the world Psilocybe expert; Dr. Steven Pollock (figure 12) came from texas bringing attention to the fact the psilocybin mushrooms were also present in the southern states of the u.S.; Gary Menser (figure 13) contributed his knowledge of the o regon hallucinogenic species. There were many others drawn to the region, including John Allen who has gone on to make the pursuit of psilocybin species around the globe his life passion. terrence McKenna was also present at some of the events and became another colorful champion of hallucinogenic mushrooms. terrance McKenna argued that “the root cause of society’s ills today is not that we use too many hallucinogens, but rather that we use too few” (Hudler, 1998b). i attended the conferences to speak about toxic mushrooms in general and

(Hudler, 1998b). i attended the conferences to speak about toxic mushrooms in general and FUNGI Volume

FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011 37

Figure 13.
Figure 13.

psilocin ideally requires both guidance and restraint. Set and setting is very important. i f you are troubled, the mushrooms can increase your sense of anxiety. i ndividuals told me of cases where they needed years of therapy after a bad trip – the mushrooms are

to interview users of Psilocybe species in order to understand dosage and effects.

o ver the next several years i quietly

indeed perilous and should not be taken

lightly. Psilocybe cyanescens even proved lethal to one young child who consumed

left to attend the evening lectures. K and i waited and waited – nothing. Determined to have this experience, we each consumed more mushrooms. This time about 30 mushrooms each. We visited and relaxed with Maggie still observing, but still nothing. We each took about 20 more mushrooms, pretty well polishing off all that i had brought along – a total of about 75 each, 6 times what Wasson had consumed in Mexico and these were very potent mushrooms that we had eaten. We then headed off to the last of the evening lectures. A bag of Psilocybe cyanescens was being passed around so i helped myself to a handful, remembering what Repke and Leslie had told me about their strong visual effects. i do not remember if K

observed psychoactive mushroom use


from his yard. A physician told me of

and noted their effects on hundreds of participants. My policy was to discourage use of the mushrooms but to assist in identification so that no one

treating an adult patient who nearly died from aspirating some of the mushroom. However, psilocybin and psilocin themselves are remarkably non toxic.


other drugs of abuse.

can happen with cocaine and some

about their effects without personal

took any more at that point or not. As we left the lecture, both still feeling quite normal and quite disappointed, someone offered me fresh Psilocybe cubensis from


handful and proceeded to munch them

shopping bag, so i took a good-sized

out in the open other than a few labeled

with hundreds of other mushrooms of all

consumed one of the several deadly look-alikes. i was struck with how

There is no risk of death from overdose

slowly as i walked K and Maggie to their

different it was to be around people using mushrooms containing psilocybin than it was to be around drunks. unlike being in a rowdy group where there was high alcohol consumption and one can sometimes sense actual physical danger, the mushroom consumption scenes i observed were always very subdued and

Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s my students kept asking how it was that i never would try the mushrooms and asking how i could lecture

knowledge. My mushrooming partner, K, fondly known by my children as their honorary grandmother, wanted

cabin. i n all my years of attending these conferences this was the first time i had been offered any magic mushrooms and the first time that i had even seen them

specimens on the display tables along

shapes and sizes.

peaceful. Some individuals were prone to laughter. Gymnopilus spectabilis , a very


experience these mushrooms. Thus

After getting Maggie and K safely to their cabin, i then joined a friend who

bitter tasting species with significant


the mid-1980s i went to the median

was working on trying to determine the

levels of psilocybin is even known as “Big


story from Japan where a housewife


the Evergreen Parkway and in broad

Laughing Gym.” My favorite tale involves

daylight picked about 200 Psilocybe semilanceata specimens. i knew that

structure of some of the other indole-like compounds that we had been seeing in Psilocybe cyanescens. We drank some

distant bemushroomed world. it was


about 1 AM when i headed back to my

mistook “Big Laughing Gym” for an edible and was later found dancing and laughing naked in the street. Another tale of laughter came from a colleague, near retirement age, who along with his

no one would take notice because i had been gathering mushrooms of all kinds on campus for over a decade. i took them to Breitenbush for what was to be the last Mycomedia® conference for

very fine rare California wines (about two bottles, i did not keep track) and talked about his research while observing his roommates who were quietly off in

wife each consumed about 10 specimens of Psilocybe semilanceata shortly before hosting a dinner party. Their guests were totally mystified why the colleague and his wife found everything so very funny. i learned that the mushrooms were generally not abused as is the case with many other drugs. They are not addictive and most individuals use them only very infrequently and reflectively in quiet, tranquil settings. The few who push the boundaries soon learn that with repeated use the mushrooms lose

many, many years. The conference was packed with friends and experts and hangers-on. it was the second night, a Saturday, about 7 PM. i slowly consumed 15 specimens – they were quite tasty, not at all unpleasant as i had expected. There was no nausea as i had been told might happen. K and two other mycologists in the room also consumed the mushrooms. A fifth person, Maggie Rogers, observed. We sat quietly and in just under one hour mycologist L was laughing and seeing the world through

cabin, walking in a drizzle through the beautiful old-growth rainforest. Resigned to never know what effects these mushrooms could have, i slipped into my sleeping bag and closed my eyes. About to put this next bit down on paper for the first time ever, tears have come to my eyes and powerful emotions have welled up – yet it is more than a quarter century since the event. When i closed my eyes twenty five years ago, visions in a brilliant blue

their transformative power. The use of

very rosy glasses and soon the mycologist

mushrooms containing psilocybin and


was feeling similar effects. They both

soon commenced. The blue was the exact same blue of the images from

38 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

the Evergreen State College Scanning Electron Microscope, where i had spent so many hours watching Paul Stamets photograph Psilocybe and other mushrooms (figures 14, 15). i felt myself leave my body and proceed far, far away and worried that i might never get back. Growing scared after a few more minutes, i opened my eyes and it was

over as fast as it had begun. i dressed and walked to the cabin where K and Maggie were sleeping and knocked on the door to tell them. They dressed and came to the cabin, K wanting more mushrooms so that she could also experience the effect – her massive 6X dose had had no effect. But i had previously thrown away the last few mushrooms not wishing my current state on anyone else. Maggie and K decided to stay and watch over me for a bit when i decided to lie down and then closed my eyes again in a darkened room. As soon as i did, the visions returned. By then the other two mycologists had joined K and Maggie and for the next hour or so i would lie with the sleeping bag pulled over my head and narrate the trip as it was happening. Each time i closed my eyes and darkened the room with my sleeping bag i would leave my body and go far, far away into that gorgeous blue world.

i would open my eyes and all would be

normal. Close my eyes and plunge into darkness under my sleeping bag and the visions would resume. fortunately,

i knew from years and years of research

that i would survive this experience and i could both enjoy the extreme beauty and

marvel at the power of the mushrooms. At about 2 AM, Maggie and K returned to their cabin. The two mycologists also retired. My visions continued as

i drifted in and out of a restless sleep. At 4 AM, almost exactly 6 hours after i had consumed the last of the Psilocybe

cubensis mushrooms, there was what seemed like a sudden explosion and as suddenly as it had started it was all over.

i went into a sound sleep. At breakfast, i told Andrew Weil about how much i had eaten and what i had experienced. Then i got into my VW Squareback and headed up the spine of the Cascade Mountains on logging roads straight towards my vineyard, which lies due North of Breitenbush. Soon i started having difficulty keeping the car on the road. i was scared and pulled over fearing that the mushrooms still held

sway. Then i saw it. The right front tire was flat. i changed the tire and made it back to the vineyard without further incident. But for a year afterwards,

i broke into a sweat just reading about someone involved with drugs of

any kind. for many years

i said and felt that this

was the one thing in my life that i wish that i had never done. But i realize now that there has also

been a permanent change in me – i am now much more sensitive and emotional than ever before. i know that if cancer ever strikes and i am nearing my end, there is a traumatic stress leading to

P tSD, or if i were to suffer incurable

depression or unmanageable pain, i will look for a way to reach out to the mushrooms one more time. Soon after this Breitenbush experience, someone broke into my lab and stole the two tiny vials of my standards – one vial with a trace of pure psilocin and the other with a dab of pure psilocybin. it was not enough for a person to experience any effect, but it was sufficient to bring my research to a

halt. i n those days no one was making the two chemicals and existing stocks

of pure chemical were nearly exhausted everywhere. Years later i was told that the thief had been a very nice student of mine, but a student living a double life. When the student was killed by police shooting at a bank robber holed up in

a trailer in a back yard in Seattle, we

found that my wife and i (he was also one of her students) had befriended “The Hollywood Bandit,” a notorious Western Bank Robber – and a modern Robin Hood. The rebirth of funded scientific research on hallucinogens, after a 40- year hiatus, began in the 1990s. The funding was neither from taxpayer money nor pharmaceutical company money, but from private nonprofit groups. The first paper on the revival of research that i found was titled “Psychedelics: The second coming” ( taylor, 1996). Then in 1997 a paper described the case of a 34 year-old male who obtained rapid and sustained relief of obsessive-compulsive disorder using psychedelic drugs (Moreno, 1997). i n

Figure 14.
Figure 14.

2002 a review of the widely dispersed literature on psilocybin pharmacology was published in Addiction Biology (Seifert, 2002). A study in 2005 (Palmer, 2005) was followed by an explosion of news reports in 2006. Scientific American published two stories in 2006. The first was “Magical Mushroom tour” (Choi, 2006) and the second, “Not i magining it” describes research by Roland Griffith of Johns Hopkins university on the pharmacology and physiological effects of psilocybin (Beillo, 2006). By 2008, the floodgates were open wide with headlines like “Spiritual Effects of Hallucinogens Persist, Johns Hopkins Researchers Report.” The Lancet carried a great review titled “Research on psychedelics moves mainstream” (Morris, 2008). There was a review in 2008 of three new books in “Psychedelic medicine: new evidence for hallucinogenic substances and treatments” (Biley, 2008). A conference, “Psychedelic Science in the 21st Century” was held in San José California in April 2010. The development of large- scale synthetic methods to produce psilocin and psilocybin now provides researchers with a convenient and measurable way to utilize psilocybin and psilocin (Shirota, 2003). Psilocybin research is once again underway.

o n April 14, 2010, The Oregonian

newspaper published the story of a 65 year-old man, Clark Martin, a retired clinical psychologist from Vancouver, Washington, who was suffering from seemingly untreatable depression as he battled with kidney cancer and chemotherapy ( tierney, 2010). He was admitted into the research program at Johns Hopkins university (described in Griffiths and Grob, 2010). He took psilocybin in an attended, controlled

FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011 39

Figure 15.
Figure 15.

setting on a couch with eye mask and head phones while listening to classical music. A year later he reports that the one six-hour experience was so profound that it has helped him overcome his depression and profoundly changed his relationships – marking it among the most meaningful events of his life. Numerous news reports including the Oregonian article have reported on the findings of the scientists that many participants have a profound spiritual experience similar to the experiences reported both by religious mystics and those who meditate. Egos and bodies vanish as they feel part of a larger state of consciousness. Griffiths feels that it is like the human brain is wired to experience these “unitive” experiences, perhaps because of an evolutionary advantage. The “feeling that we are all in it together may have benefited communities by encouraging reciprocal generosity.” Griffiths was rediscovering what Wasson had learned over 60 years ago, when asking for the first time about the mushrooms from a Spanish speaking indian: “Le llevan ahí donde Dios está. ‘They carry you where God is’ an answer that we have received on several occasions, from indians in different cultural areas…” (Wasson, 1957). today research is underway not only at Johns Hopkins university and u CLA but also at many other colleges and universities including the university of Arizona, New York university, the university of California and even, once again, Harvard. The Psilocybe mushrooms are indeed “muy delicado,” but used with respect, restraint and care can, for at least

40 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

some who turn to them, create from just one exposure a spiritual and emotional transformation lasting for years.

References Biello, D. 2006. Not i magining it. Scientific American 295(5): 33-35. Biley, f. C. 2008. Psychedelic medicine:

New evidence for hallucinogenic substances and treatments. Volumes one and two. Psychedelic horizons. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 15(9): 787-790. Choi, C. Q. 2006. Magical Mushroom tour. Scientific American 295(3): 36. Griffiths, R. S., and C. S. Grob. 2010. Hallucinogens as Medicine. Scientific American 303(6): 77-79. Griffiths, R. R., W. A. Richards, M. W. Johnson, u. D. McCann, and R. Jesse. 2008. Mystical-type experiences occasioned by psilocybin mediate the attribution of personal meaning and spiritual significance 14 months later. Journal of Psychopharmacology 22(6):


Hudler, G. W. 1998a. Ergot of Grain Crops. Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds Chapter 5: 69-85. Princeton:

Princeton university Press Hudler, G.W. 1998b. Hallucinogenic Mushrooms. Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds Chapter 11: 172-185. Princeton: Princeton university Press. Morris, K. 2008. Research on psychedelics moves into the mainstream. Lancet 371(9623): 1491-1492. Moreno, f. A., and P. L. Delgado. 1997. Hallucinogen-induced relief of obsessions and compulsions. The American Journal of Psychiatry 154: 1037-1038.

o ss, o. t., and o. N. o eric. 1976. Psilocybin: magic mushroom grower’s guide. Seattle: Homestead Press (reprinted, 1986; Berkeley: Lux Natura). o tt, J. 1976. Hallucinogenic plants of North America. Berkeley: Wingbow Press, o tt, J., and J. Bigwood, ed. 1978. Teonanacatl: hallucinogenic mushrooms of North America. Seattle. Madrona Press. o tt, J., and G. Guzmán. 1976. Detection of psilocybin in species of Psilocybe, Panaeolus, and Psathyrella. Lloydia. 39: 258-260. o tt, J., and S. H. Pollock. 1976. Psychotropic mycoflora of Washington, idaho, o regon, California, and British Columbia. Mycologia 68: 1267-1272. Palmer, G. A., and D. D. Daiss 2005. Personality characteristics of adolescents with hallucinogen, methamphetamine, and cannabis dependence: a comparative study. Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse 15(1): 37-49. Seifert, J., u. Schneider, H. M. Emrich, and t. Passie. 2002. The pharmacology of psilocybin. Addiction Biology 7(4):


Shirota, o., W. Hakamata, and Y. Goda. 2003. Concise large-scale synthesis of psilocybin and psilocin, principal constituents of “Magic Mushroom.” Journal of Natural Products 66(6): 885-887. Stamets, P. 1996. Psilocybes from a Historical Perspective. Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World Chapter 1: 11- 15 . Berkeley: ten Speed Press. Stamets, P. 1978. Psilocybe Mushrooms and their allies. Seattle: Homestead Press. Stamets, P., and J. S. Chilton. 1983. The Mushroom Cultivator. o lympia:

Agarikon Press. taylor, E. 1996. Psychedelics: the second coming. Psychology Today 29:


tierney, J. 2010. f lashing Back to Hallucinogens. The Oregonian April 14:

C1-C2. ( from New York times News Service). Wark, C., and J. f. Galliher. 2010. timothy Leary, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and the changing definition of psilocybin. International Journal of Drug Policy 21(3): 234-239. Wasson, R. G. 1957. Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957:


Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. by William Harrison P e ople disagree
Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. by William Harrison P e ople disagree
Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. by William Harrison P e ople disagree
Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. by William Harrison P e ople disagree
Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. by William Harrison P e ople disagree
Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. by William Harrison P e ople disagree
Seeking the Magic Mushroom. Life May 13, 1957: 100-120. by William Harrison P e ople disagree

by William Harrison

P e ople disagree as to whether magic

(psilocybin-containing) mushrooms

are, or are not, precious,

misunderstood, God-given blessings, but currently here in the u.S. they are prison bait. under federal law, they are illegal (Boire, 2002) – illegal to possess, grow, give away or sell. federal penalties for magic mushroom doings are severe, so purchasing and using abroad, where they are legal, can be a much wiser choice than collecting or growing them illegally here. Magic mushrooms are legal or tolerated in lots of places abroad (Gartz,

1996), but many people had best not use – especially anyone with mental or emotional problems or a family history thereof. Many have fine experiences. Some, though, end up temporarily ill or incoherent, with a panic attack, or worse. Almost every year there are a few deaths worldwide, due to the bizarre behaviors that can result from overdose, including a famous case a few years ago in the Netherlands. By 2006, magic mushrooms had become quite popular in the Netherlands. That year, there were 128 magic mushroom-related ambulance emergencies in Amsterdam – mostly short-term panic attacks or disorientations. for perspective, there were some 500,000 mushroom packets sold there that year, so the percentage of emergency outcomes was tiny. on March 24, 2007, though, an underage french girl took mushrooms, overdosed, wandered away from her friends, and jumped to her death from a building onto a freeway. Dutch newspapers kept the tragedy on their front pages for weeks, the Dutch Legislature responded, and a national ban on the sale of fresh magic mushrooms took effect on December 1, 2008. Should the vast majority who use responsibly, though, be penalized for the behavior of a tiny few who don’t? Perhaps that thought entered the minds of some who drafted that new law. in that law, all species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms were outlawed. Psilocybin, though, also shows up in the sclerotia (underground “tubers” encouraged by adverse growing conditions) of certain

psilocybin containing mushroom species. Such sclerotia (neither mushrooms nor truffles, but commonly called magic truffles) were not outlawed. So, “magic truffles” remain legal in the Netherlands. They are sold, as were magic mushrooms, only in the Smart Shops. Purchasers are supplied with detailed warnings and instructions. That alone makes them much safer there than here. But, is that enough? Should more be done, even there, to protect users? All who try magic mushrooms should know the dangers, and how best to avoid them. o utside the Netherlands, though, little if any information and few warnings are offered. But mushroom shop managers are knowledgeable, so interested tourists should be inquiring as to proper amount and use, how to recognize freshness, where best to use, where not to use, how best to avoid overdose, etc. if you visit a magic mushroom shop that doesn’t offer such information, you might request they do. And what about mycological societies here? is there anything they could do to better inform their members and the public? How best to use magic mushrooms where legal? R. Gordon Wasson saw them as sacred sacraments. As he stated in his book The Wondrous Mushroom (Wasson, 1980) “i have often taken the sacred mushroom, but never for a ‘kick’ or for ‘recreation.’ Knowing as i did from the outset the lofty regard in which they are held by those who believe in them, i would not, could not, so profane them.” Wasson would have preferred magic

Continued on page 59.

Mukur procession at dawn, Kuta Beach.

Spore Prints as Art Artwork & Essay by Marlana Stoddard-Hayes M y background growing up

Spore Prints as Art Artwork & Essay by Marlana Stoddard-Hayes

M y background growing up in

a heightened awareness of the

rural iowa shaped me to develop

natural world, especially the diverse world of living forms, clustered in communities. Now as a mature painter, i still seek to embody these early ideas. Primarily, my work is concerned with following the organic process and is not forced into being. i prefer the method of inviting chance and growth to occur over time and to follow its own path. The pieces are grown over a period of months, and i hope to convey a depth of atmospheric space

that causes a sensation of peace in the viewer. Hopefully, they embody my belief

42 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

in the transferred touch of the human hand to lend beauty and warmth. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest over a decade ago, my current work has evolved to include the use of spore prints from the mushrooms that appear like clockwork on our land with the onset of fall rains. After harvesting the caps and trimming off the stems, the spores are allowed to drop over a period of minutes or hours and are then encased in a resin layer that slowly dries. further working over the top of this layer allows the imagery to develop into a dense network of

information which

process to create, as well as to decipher.

requires a meditative

it is my hope that the paintings create a world or picture space that is joyful to inhabit. By engaging the mushrooms and recognizing their unique design and pigmentation qualities, i feel i am calling the muse to co-create in a partnership that transcends time. Currently i am represented by Butters Gallery in Portland, oregon (www. in the fall, i will launch my new website, designed by bluemousemonkey design group (www. once a year i give painting workshops on the oregon Coast at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, where the relationships between nature and the creation of art are examined in detail (

of art are examined in detail ( by Britt A. Bunyard Photos by Paul Stamets, Michael
of art are examined in detail ( by Britt A. Bunyard Photos by Paul Stamets, Michael

by Britt A. Bunyard Photos by Paul Stamets, Michael Beug, Alan Rockefeller, and Joshua Hutchins

t he genus Psilocybe is a large group

(nearly 400 species worldwide)

of small, brown to tan or buff

mushrooms that grow saprobically on decaying organic material. So much has been written about these LBMs (“little brown mushrooms”) i ndeed, this is one of the best “known” mushroom groups among amateur mushroom hunters and enthusiasts. funny thing is, most information passed around about Psilocybe is incorrect and based on myths and hearsay. Species of Psilocybe are often called “magic mushrooms.” While it is true that some species contain hallucinogenic properties, the vast majority of the genus are not “active.” furthermore, most of the species that are hallucinogenic are only very mildly so or are tiny, making them of little interest to myconauts looking for a free high. i nexperienced and uneducated

Psilocybe hunters are often disappointed to find that after eating piles and piles of their pickings, all they end up with is an upset stomach. it is at this point in our discussion that i should caution the reader about unscrupulously picking perceived wild magic mushrooms. All wild mushrooms are fairly indigestible and can cause gastric upset if eaten in enough quantity. o f greater concern to you should be the fact that there are many lookalike species closely related to Psilocybe. And that many of these are highly poisonous mushrooms. And that severe poisonings—even death—happen every year in North America involving people misidentifying and consuming wild mushrooms. Another misconception about this group is that all species occur on dung. While this is true of one or two of the commonly sought psychedelic species, in reality nearly all the species of this group occur on rotting wood, wood chips, or even decaying materials in lawns or pastures. There are, of course, many related and unrelated small mushrooms that do occur on dung. Probably the

best known coprophilic (“dung loving”) species is Psilocybe cubensis because it is large (for the genus), fairly active, and easily cultivated. (You can see photos of P. cubensis on the cover and elsewhere in this issue). Psilocybe cubensis occurs naturally around the Gulf of Mexico and Central America. it is thought to occur in much of Europe and Australasia as well; likely escapes from cultivation. Gary Lincoff, mushroom guru and author of The Audubon Guide to North American Mushrooms , tells a hilarious story about attending a prestigious mycology conference in f lorida several decades ago and slipping away with mycologist Steven

several decades ago and slipping away with mycologist Steven Figure 1. Psilocybe semilanceata , the Liberty

Figure 1. Psilocybe semilanceata, the Liberty Cap. Photo courtesy M. Beug.

Pollock to “discover” this mushroom’s much more potent coprophilic cousin, P. tampanensis , growing in a pasture nearby. Still dressed in suits, ties, and dress shoes, the mycologists pensively scaled wire fences to conduct their successful

foray. This is apparently the only known collection for this species in the wild as it is very rare. Psilocybe tampanensis has been cultivated successfully, though. Strangely, this species produces a large tuber-like underground sclerotium from which it fruits. The sclerotium is strongly potent and known colloquially as “Philosopher’s Stone,” “Rock of Ages,” and “Magic truffles.” Magic truffles are cultivated and sold in parts of Europe, especially Amsterdam; many websites can be found claiming to sell magic truffles. After P. cubensis , the most notable species are P. semilanceata , P. cyanescens , and P. azurescens. Psilocybe semilanceata , known as the “Liberty Cap,” is a small brown mushroom, having a bell- shaped cap and often a sort of nipple (“umbo”) at the top. it commonly fruits on lawns and pastures around the world ( fig. 1). Psilocybe semilanceata is native to northern Europe. Recently, it has been found in tremendous fruitings throughout much of the Pacific Northwest. The great American mycologist Charles Horton Peck first documented this species in the New World in the early 1900s, though this has been determined by Gastón Guzmán, the world authority on the genus ( fig. 2, pictured in 1976 with Michael Beug), to have been a misidentification. Like other members of the genus, this species is a saprotroph, probably living on decaying roots of grass plants. Many grass loving mushroom species, some of which are close relatives, look similar to the Liberty Cap. With its umbonate, bell-shaped appearance, the Liberty Cap takes its name from the ancient Phrygian (a region of Anatolia in modern day turkey) “Liberty Cap.” The Liberty Cap image (the hat, not the mushroom) is popular to this day on many state and national seals of the united States, believe it or not. ( i ncidentally, the mycological term for the cap of a mushroom, the pileus, comes from the ancient Greek hat, also called a pileus which looks somewhat like a fez.)

FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011 43

Figure 2. Gastón Guzmán, pictured in 1976 with Michael Beug. Photo by Kit Skates. Psilocybe

Figure 2. Gastón Guzmán, pictured in 1976 with

Michael Beug. Photo by Kit Skates.

Psilocybe cyanescens ( fig. 3) and P. azurescens ( fig. 4) are considered closely related; both are fairly common, active species and are native to the West Coast. Both grow in cespitose clusters (“onion- like”) in rotting wood and wood chips and have an overall similar appearance but note the margins of P. cyanescens take on a wavy appearance as the mushroom matures. Psilocybe azurascens has a much smaller range, restricted to the oregon coast. However the species is highly sought as it has double or more the potency of P. cubensis.

What’s so Magic About Psilocybe?

The “active” species of Psilocybe and

a few closely related genera ( Panaeolus , Panaeolina , Copelandia , Inocybe, Conocybe and others) contain the psychotropic tryptamine compound psilocybin, an alkaloid, or analogues

psilocin or baeocystin (or a combination)

( fig. 5). All parts of the mushrooms seem to have the compounds, except

for the spores. Most active species of Psilocybe turn a striking blue color where handled; the blue pigment can leach from the mushrooms and even discolor the handler’s fingers or other materials

( fig. 6). Environmental stresses can cause bluing; Paul Stamets recently found a

beautiful blue reaction in P. cyanofibrillosa following a frost episode ( figs. 7a-c).

it should be noted that bluing is not a

foolproof characteristic for identification and some active species do not turn blue. Psilocybin is rapidly turned into psilocin inside the body. Both resemble the neurotransmitter serotonin, structurally, and as a result bind with serotonin receptors in the brain. Just how psilocin works in the brain is poorly

understood but it is known that the serotonin receptors where in binds in the cerebral cortex are involved with the perception of pain and anxiety. Although the effects on the brain are reportedly similar to those of LSD, there is no affinity for dopamine receptors in the brain (as there are with LSD). Psilocybin and psilocin have a very low toxicity (about 1.5 times

purple- black (fig 9). Like just about everything else with the genus Psilocybe, the taxonomy of this group is somewhat of an enigma. Ever since mycologists first noticed them, these little mushrooms have been shuffled between Stropharia and Panaeolus, and at times other groups, depending on who was the authority and what characteristics were felt to be most important at illustrating phylogeny. Recent DNA sequence analysis has shown why there’s long been indecision: firstly, species of Psilocybe really are closely related to some of these other groups (fig. 10); secondly, the genus Psilocybe is polyphyletic. Huh? That is, what we called one genus, is actually composed of different clades that are not forming one “monphyletic” clade - in other words, one branch here, one branch there, etc. in the fungal tree. What to do? it recently was determined that all the bluing species (including P. cubensis) are to be moved into the family Hymenogasteraceae, along with Galerina, Hebeloma, Alnicola and Flammula (fig.10). The former Psilocybe species will be placed in the genus Deconica within the genus Strophariaceae (where Hypholoma, Stropharia, Nivatogastrium, Agrocybe and Pholiota, reside). o nce again, those

that of caffeine) and do not seem to be addictive (all this despite the contentious claims of antidrug propaganda of several decades ago). Psilocybin and psilocin show much promise as therapeutic drugs (see elsewhere in this issue).

Morphology and Taxonomy of Psilocybe

telling one species of Psilocybe from another (even from species of other,

closely related genera) can be very tough for anyone—including mycologists. Most species are usually pretty small and nondescript: classic LBMs. Besides the brown to tan or

buff color, notable characteristics of the cap are brown to purple-black gills underneath; hygrophanous cap on top. “Hygrophanous” refers to a color change that occurs in the tissues of the pileus (cap) as the mushroom matures; as it loses or absorbs water, the pileipellis (the skin-like outer

layer of the cap, sometimes called a cuticle) becomes somewhat transparent when wet and opaque when dry and can lend a blotchy, water-soaked look to the cap. Panaeolus , Agrocybe , Galerina, and Psalthyrella also have hygrophanous species . Many of these species ( fig. 8) grow on the same substrates, are similar colors and sizes, and occur at the same times of the year as Psilocybe spp. Many of them are toxic. Psilocybe species have very dark spore prints ranging from lilac-brown to

have very dark spore prints ranging from lilac-brown to Figure 3. Psilocybe cyanescens. Photo courtesy M.

Figure 3. Psilocybe cyanescens. Photo courtesy M. Beug.

to Figure 3. Psilocybe cyanescens. Photo courtesy M. Beug. Figure 4. Psilocybe azurescens. Photo courtesy J.

Figure 4. Psilocybe azurescens. Photo courtesy J. Hutchins.

Continued on page 56.

44 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

Family Trees:

A Mycolegium of Fungal Literature

by Else C. Vellinga

The family tree takes center stage in this installment of my overview of recent fun- gal literature. I focus on articles which deal with evolutionary relationships between species and groups, or with evolution- ary timing, to find who is most closely related to whom, and why. The answers have consequences for how we humans classify the fungal world, and what names we give to groups and species. Many of the articles I consider also try to put the results in a broader context – a context of time, of diversification, or the ways fungi get their food. However, only a handful of authors translate their insights into a new classification.

Many articles could be chosen and what is presented is my personal choice, and a small fraction of the cornucopia of articles that appears annually. You can find more articles for yourself by going on line and using search engines, visiting journals’web sites or accessing university library sites.

Here the topics are presented in alpha- betical order and the complete references are given at the end.

Boletus edulis and relatives

King boletes are my favorite edible mushrooms. What more can a mushroomer want than a young maggot- free firm-stiped porcino? But, besides its recognition as edible and a “king bolete,” i want to know which particular species is sizzling in my pan; what is its ecology and distribution, how rare is it, how often does it fruit? for this kind of information we have to go a bit deeper than the recognition of a brown big fleshy not-discoloring brown blond bolete. Besides these characters, what unites these boletes is that in young fruitbodies the pore mouths are filled

with white hyphae, acting like a veil to protect the growing spores from the outside world; insects cannot enter, and the temperature and moisture inside the tubes are kept constant and favorable for the maturing spores. What also unites these boletes is a shared history: all these different porcini belong to a monophyletic group, with a common ancestor. This ur-porcino lived some 42 to 54 million years ago, at a time when the angiosperms (the trees with which they would maintain a mutualistically beneficial relationship) were only up and coming. Boletus edulis is an exceptional species, in that it has a very wide distribution – we know that it grows not only in Europe, but throughout North America. for a long time we thought that such wide distributions were normal, but now they seem to be the exception. The fly agaric Amanita muscaria is an example of a species that once appeared to be widespread. it has now been shown that specimens from Europe and from America are not identical and that we have to use different names for them. Similarly, most species in the Boletus edulis complex, other than Boletus edulis itself, can only be found locally. for instance, some species only occur west of the Rocky Mountains (e.g. B. regineus , B. rex-veris, and B. fibrillosus ), while others have only been found in the eastern parts of the u SA (B. nobilissimus , B. variipes, and B. subcaerulescens ). There are also purely European species, such as B. aereus and B. pinophilus – names which have been misapplied in North America. twenty five representatives of Boletus edulis in the strict sense were analyzed in this study but that still leaves out huge parts of its distribution and fails to sample many of its tree associates. We are still left with such questions as whether the species under Sitka spruce in o regon is the same species as the one that associates with Valley oak further south, and as the species

that forms humongous fruitbodies and is so common with pines along the Pacific coast (recently distinguished as a separate variety, var. grandedulis ), and whether these three are identical to the summer-fruiting species that make hiking in the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains such a pleasure. o ther issues that are left aside are what exactly the genus Boletus comprises, and what the wider relationships within the boletes as a whole are.

Ectomycorrhizal fungi

Boletus edulis is thought to have been around for more than 40 million years, based on analyses of the changes in their DNA. But what about all the other mushroom species that depend on tree species for their carbon? Ectomycorrhizal species (those that live with trees providing nutrients to the tree roots and receiving carbons, sugars, in return) are found in many different fungal groups – chanterelles, Ramarias, Russulas, all kinds of different gilled mushrooms ( Tricholoma , Amanita, Cortinarius to name a few), boletes, and also many crust formers such as Tomentella (a relative of Thelephora ). How did these mushrooms start out? Did they associate with trees right from the beginning, enabling the trees to diversify as land plants, or did early basidiomycete fungi live off dead plant material, exhibiting a saprotrophic life- style? This kind of question motivates the research of David Hibbett and Brandon Matheny who compared the ages of different fungal groups with those of different plant groups. There are very few fungal fossils that give us information on age so on the fungal side there are many unknowns. Plants, on the other hand, fossilize well and can be dated much more easily. The authors circumvented the problem by using plants to make one phylogenetic tree with reliable ages with both plants and fungi in it. This enabled them to compare the branching of the

FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011 45

plant part of the tree with the branching in the fungal part. fungi as a group are thought to be much older than trees and the ancestor of the mushroom forming species definitely began by living on dead material, and not as a mycorrhizal partner. When the ectomycorrhizal partnership appeared it developed repeatedly. in the history of fungi it was established with the pine family of trees at least six times, and with angiosperm plants at least eight times. The ectomycorrhizal members of the genus Amanita could have started out with either of these groups, as their origin is considered to have happened when there were both pines and broadleaved trees such as oak and beech. Questions still remaining concern the mechanisms and pathways of these mycorrhizal beginnings; one such question is whether all these different groups lost the ability to break down plant material (lignin and cellulose in particular), or whether they all adapted in different ways to the new lifestyle.


Pink nodulose spores are the hallmark for the family Entolomataceae. Different spore types have been used to define the genera – ridges for Clitopilus, low bumps for Rhodocybe, and from straight or twisted boxes to more gently curved but bumpy spores in other genera. in the European tradition the rest are united in one genus Entoloma, but in North America many different genera (Nolanea, Leptonia, Pouzarella, Inocephalus, Entoloma etc.) are recognized. The study by Co-David and co-workers uses spore morphology and a molecular analysis of representatives of the whole family to re-establish genus borders. All the (sub) genera are represented in the sampling for this study, though not in equal numbers. The family tree shows several interesting and unexpected relationships:

Clitopilus, the genus with the ridges on the spores, nestles nicely in the middle of Rhodocybe, the genus with the bumpy spores. The most species rich group is definitely Entoloma (in the wide, European, sense), and Entoloma is also the most diverse group, encompassing everything from species with hypogeous fruitbodies to the beautiful blue- stemmed, blue-capped species in (subgenus) Leptonia. The spores show a basic framework or scaffold over which

46 FUNGI Volume 4:3 Summer 2011

the spore wall is draped, resulting in multi-faceted to irregular structures that are more bumpy than faceted. Within the big Entoloma group, species representing the various (sub)genera are all mixed up, with the exception of a basal group mostly containing taxa from (sub)genus Entoloma (though some members of the (sub)genus are found elsewhere). Almost every clade has a mixture of species. once again it has been shown that European names cannot be applied to American species without a thorough comparison. The outcomes of these studies are translated into taxonomic changes, an approach i particularly welcome. This means that Clitopilus is now the accepted name for a new genus combining Clitopilus and Rhodocybe, as it is the older of the two names. The secotioid entolomatoid species are placed within Entoloma, and all species that had been described in the split off genera are now included in Entoloma proper. Not everybody will accept these proposals, so we will keep seeing a dual system. Species are still being described in the separate genera, and we can only hope that more molecular data will be used. With more data added to this backbone we will get a better understanding of the group and the changes it has undergone in evolutionary time.


The order of the Gomphales, in which Gomphus and Ramaria are the best known genera, forms one big cluster with the orders Phallales, Geastrales, and Hysterangiales. The four orders also keep themselves to themselves; in other words the four together, and each separately, form a monophyletic group. Within the Gomphales, different life strategies (ectomycorrhizal and wood inhabiting) and completely different fruitbody shapes are present, (think of Ramaria with its coral look, the truffles of Gautieria, and Gomphus’ pig ears). An earlier article showed already that Ramaria is not a coherent group and those results are now confirmed, with a broader sampling of species and of genes. The problem is that some morphologically well- defined groups, such as Gomphus and Turbinellus (with Gopmhus floccosus), and Gloeocantharellus, fall right in the middle of Ramaria; should we call everything Ramaria (whatever it looks

like), or should we split Ramaria up in genera that are not easily recognized macromorphologically? This question is left unanswered. Some new names are given in the figures (e.g. Turbinellus and Phaeoclavulina in which some species from Ramaria subgenus Echinoramaria find a place), but none of these are proposed in a nomenclatorially sound way, i.e. in accord with the rules of the code for botanical nomenclature. So, the framework is there, but the hard and sweaty taxonomic work, including the challenge of dealing with a polyphyletic Ramaria, is left for future workers.

Hygrophoraceae and their diets

The grasslands of northwestern Europe were traditionally enlivened by the presence of colorful wax cap species (non-Hygrophorus members of the family Hygrophoraceae); however, artificial fertilizers, changes in land use and intensified agriculture in general have made these grasslands and their species rarer and rarer. The wax caps are now used as indicator species for the natural state of these grasslands and have been extensively surveyed throughout the area. A great study by Griffiths and co-workers published in 2002 looked at a range of different aspects of their life and lifestyle, focusing on a well-studied grass ecosystem in southern Scotland. The nitrogen and carbon signatures of the wax caps turned out to be quite different from the signatures of saprotrophic fungi in the same grassland. What was nourishing the wax caps could not be determined, but they certainly were not decomposing dead plant material. Because the authors looked only at grassland fungi, they could not compare the wax caps with the ectomycorrhizal Hygrophorus. it also appeared that wax caps cannot be grown in the lab, another indicator that they might depend on living organisms. in contrast to the situation in northern Europe, in North America we find wax caps in woods and forests. The present study by Seitzmann et al., again looks at the wax cap fungi and compares how they and saprotrophic or ectomycorrhizal species process sugars and nitrogen. The study also included Hygrophorus species from the same area where the wax caps were collected (Harvard forest in Massachusetts). The results of this analysis are put in a phylogenetic context, comparing

the four different wax cap genera (Hygrocybe, Humidicutis, Gliophorus and Cuphophyllus) with Hygrophorus. The last is definitely ectomycorrhizal; we knew that already as its hyphae had been found making ectomycorrhizal root tips, but that fact is confirmed here with a totally different method. The other genera are certainly not living from dead material, but are presumed to live biotrophically, getting their sugars from living organisms. Ectomycorrhizal fungi are one kind of biotroph as they get their sugars from the living trees they associate with, but the wax caps have not the same carbon and nitrogen signatures as Hygrophorus and other ectomycorrhizal species. Could they be lichens, or associating with mosses? Many tropical species in the Hygrophoraceae do in fact live with, and take advantage of, green algae or cyanobacteria. A symbiosis with mosses seems less likely, as here in the West of the uSA, mosses are not very abundant, and often the wax caps fruit on bare soil or among tree litter without any moss in sight. All these questions are still very open, and we have to admit that the lifestyle of these fungi, and the carbon source they have access to, is still a big (colorful) mystery.

The Pluteus family

Pluteus and Volvariella are easily recognizable genera: the combination of pink (mycologically pink) spores and free lamellae with an inverse lamella trama sets them apart from all other gilled mushrooms. Pluteus species do or do not have a ring, but Volvariella has a volva that surrounds the young fruitbody. in the phylogenetic trees proposed earlier for the Agaricales Volvariella was split into two parts – one with V. gloiocephala (V. speciosa) being close to Pluteus, and the other for all species far removed from it. The present study examines this issue in detail, and concludes that indeed V. gloiocephala (plus some close relatives) is very close to Pluteus, but the other, smaller and small-spored species, are not. The new genus Volvopluteus is proposed for V. gloiocephala. The second part of the study investigates the genus Pluteus itself. it is very refreshing to see that the division of the genus based on morphological characters is mirrored by that based on evolutionary relationships; those species with a cutis as pileipellis and thick-walled horned cystidia

form one group, species with a celluloderm form a single clade, while species with long upright cells in the pileipellis form another tight-knit group. Placing the morphological odd-ball P. ephebeus (characterized by a cutis and thin-walled

non-horned cystidia) in a group is difficult in the molecular context. A second article by more or less the same group of authors (from all parts of the world) focuses much more deeply on the various species groups. i plugged our Pluteus data from coastal California into the data provided by these authors, and it appears that