Albino A+ is an easier-to-grow Psilocybe cubensis variety popular among cultivators, microdosers, and more experienced trippers. But, the name “albino” can be a little misleading: This cultivated variety isn’t an actual albino mushroom but a leucistic (lesser-pigmented) mutation of another P. cubensis variety, the classic A+ mushroom. Some growers, says Australia-based mycologist and fungi educator Caine Barlow, have tried to “correct the naming” and market it as A+ Leucistic. The more accurate moniker hasn’t caught on.
AA+ mushrooms are usually white or cream-colored, but the fungus can also take on a bluish hue, especially if grown in dark conditions. Bruises typically appear a deeper azure—a sign of the psychoactive compound psilocin. Cultivators celebrate AA+ for plentiful flushes, quick come-ups, and a potentially intense body high. And though they aren’t exactly considered a culinary delight, these fungi have nutritional properties, including beta-glucans, antioxidants, potassium, and B vitamins.
AA+ Mushroom Characteristics
As mentioned above, AA+ is not a true albino but a leucistic mutation. This leucistic quality means that it mostly looks like an albino mushroom, but it has a few key differences. AA+ caps and stems typically range from “ghostly white” to cream to yellow (particularly as they age). But, as DoubleBlind’s mushroom growing course instructor Ophelia Chong explains, some caps can even take on a brownish tint. Blue undertones—indicative of psilocybin converting to psilocin—can also sometimes be observed in the white caps and stems, and dried samples are usually streaked white, blue, and gray.
Albino A+ mushrooms tend toward consistent morphology or appearance when cultivated, which makes them a rewarding strain for new and experienced growers. “When I’ve grown AA+, they’ve really flushed out and made these beautiful carpets of albino mushrooms,” says the Portland-based cultivator known as MycoPDX, noting that the AA+ grows he’s seen are remarkably consistent—almost identical, even—across the entire canopy. “They’re just pretty,” he says. “They’re really fun to look at.”
“People wind up really enjoying the aberrations and seeking out more of them,” MycoPDX continues. “So all the albinos speak to that kind of familiarity about gene selection and the human hand in that process. You know, we were privileging and prioritizing uniqueness and difference instead of homogeneity and conformity. So all those albino isolations are a result of people seeking out what would otherwise be classified as a mistake, or an aberration, in the genetic lineage.”
Albino A+ Spores
Spoiler alert: Albino A+ spores aren’t exactly albino, either. AA+ spores are pigmented purple or even black. In contrast, spores in true albino varieties (such as Albino Penis Envy) are white or transparent. It’s also important to remember: Psilocybin mushroom spores are legal to purchase in most US states—so long as buyers use them for “microscope purposes.” It’s illegal to cultivate spores in most areas, apart from select decriminalized regions.
The AA+ Cap
A small but prominent peak—called an umbo—is often observed in the cap of Albino A+. Its cap size is medium to rather large, with a round shape that broadens and partially flattens with maturity.
“Like most cubensis, especially under cultivation, there are often remnants of the universal veil,” says Barlow—though they can be hard to see against the white or cream-colored cap. The “remnants” often look like a little ring of mushroom flesh around the stem. (If you’d like to get technical, the stem is also called the stipe.)
AA+ Mushroom Potency
Opinions on Albino A+ potency are all over the map, with answers ranging from low to average to high potency. Natural variations in grows, including the source genetic material, can account for some of this apparent discrepancy. One full lab analysis—from Oakland Hyphae’s Spring 2021 Hyphae Cup competition—yielded a total tryptamine content of .83 percent. That places Albino A+ in the high-average range for P. cubensis (the average potency of the cubensis species ranges from .6 to .85 percent).
While acknowledging it’s not a perfect system for determining mushroom potency, MycoPDX sees the variety’s tendency to bruise blue as a gauge. “The benefit with albino strains in general,” he says, “is that you can see the blue bruising as the psilocin oxidizes and converts to psilocybin, so you can sort of eyeball and have a rough estimate of how potent each mushroom is going to be.”
Albino A+ Effects
Be forewarned: Albino A+ mushrooms have a rap for an unpleasant taste and odor—well beyond “earthy” or “mushroomy.” So, you may want to consider grinding and encapsulating this variety. Like with all magic mushrooms, Albino A+ effects are dose-dependent—and if you’re new to psilocybin, starting with a low dose is safer. Chong prefers Albino A+ for microdoses or small doses—less than .4 grams, she says. They’re often described as “clear and level-headed” in low quantities.
In higher doses, many online users describe a quicker-than-usual come-up with AA+—as little as ten minutes, up to about 30 minutes—that can feel surprising and intense, even for those with previous magic mushroom experience. (Interestingly, says Barlow, albino and leucistic strains tend to come on rapidly because their cells, being “weaker” than pigmented varieties, also break down more quickly.) Therefore, beginners should not take a large dose of Albino A+ mushrooms; many should try tripping with a sitter.
Like with all psychoactive substances, including other psilocybin mushrooms, effects can veer toward the difficult or unpleasant side of the spectrum. More challenging effects from AA+ mushrooms can include nausea and vomiting, confusion, and potentially disturbing sensations, visuals, or thoughts.
That said, users often describe a moderate dose (2 to 3.5 grams) of AA+ mushrooms as giggly, even giddy—with one forum user describing “laughing like crazy”—and strong elements of a feel-good body high. It can be a powerful euphoric featuring visual and auditory effects—including “gelatinous” or “Jell-O-like” visuals, breathing walls, melting landscapes, and more. You can expect more significant visual and auditory distortions at high doses (3.5 grams and up). Some users have reported the profound but challenging experience of ego dissolution while tripping with these mushrooms.
A word of advice: Take the description of any magic mushroom’s effects with a proverbial grain of salt. Much more research—both in the lab and on the ground—is needed to elucidate the role of psilocin, psilocybin, baeocystin, and the other tryptamines present in P. cubensis mushrooms on a user’s experience. And while the need for research is complicated by the fact that growing psilocybin mushrooms remains illegal outside of a few jurisdictions, cultivators and labs continue to push the boundaries of what we know.
“The more I learn about psilocybin genetics and the actual mushrooms themselves, the less comfortable I am ascribing particular attributes—especially on the effects level—to certain varieties,” says MycoPDX. “I don’t want someone to go in with the idea of like, ‘oh, you know, AA+ plus is the clear-headed strain,’ and then they don’t have a clear-headed experience.”
User consensus in online forums nonetheless points toward the rapid and intense come-up of AA+ at moderate to high doses, underscoring that they’re not beginner mushrooms and that even experienced folks should approach them respectfully. You can expect an Albino A+ trip to last about four or five hours, slightly shorter than a typical psilocybin trip, though longer trips are also possible.
Albino A+ Mushroom Variations & Relatives
“A+ originated with the infamous Mr G., a cantankerous Shroomery member who obfuscated the origins of the strain,” says Barlow. Some have postulated a sub-tropical, South American, or Southeast Asian origin for A+. Genetically, it appears most similar to Golden Teacher, explains Barlow. Albino A+, as a leucistic mutation of A+, can be assumed to come from the same lineage.
Cultivator MycoPDX refers to “an absence of genetic transparency” throughout the entire magic mushroom space that can be attributed to prohibition. Because research and record-keeping were driven underground and are only now emerging in a piecemeal fashion, it can be challenging to parse out questions of genetics. “The reason,” he says, “that there aren’t clear consensus answers to these questions is because of these ridiculous, racist, outdated laws that we suffer under.”
P. cubensis and other psilocybin mushrooms have long held importance to Mazatec communities in Southern Mexico. They became federally illegal in the US under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which places the longstanding Indigenous medicine under the harshest drug scheduling classification. Possession, cultivation, and distribution of psilocybin mushrooms like AA+ can result in arrest and criminal prosecution under federal law.
Some assume AA+ is related to Panaeolus varieties like Blue Meanies, citing a quick come-up for all the mushrooms. This claim has never been proven in testing. Because AA+ is a variation of A+, the latter’s close relatives—Golden Teacher and Leucistic Golden Teacher—are the most genetically similar mushroom varieties. You can also compare AA+ to other albino strains, such as Albino Goldies and Albino Penis Envy.
Growing Albino A+
“Albino A+ is an easy-to-grow variety, and I’ve found it a great fruit,” says Chong—an opinion echoed in online mushroom forums by amateur and professional growers, who are often impressed by the variety’s consistent, large flushes. Chong notes that, over the years, some have found it a slow grow, but she’s not convinced. “That discrepancy can be down to genetics; some of us might not have a true AA+ or one that is overlaid (characterized by an uneven pin set and less fruit).”
In general, AA+’s reputation for easy growing and abundant fruiting comes from its A+ parent, says Barlow. Both strains are adaptable to various substrates and can be grown using coco coir, bovine or equine dung, enriched soils, vermiculite, or rye grain at temperatures between 70-80 degrees F and with high humidity (around 90 percent). AA+ is mainly known as a hardy, quick colonizer yielding large fruits with fewer aborts than average: “They get to maturity,” says MycoPDX.
Descriptions like “self-sufficient,” “user-friendly,” and “good for new cultivators,” often go hand-in-hand with AA+. Still, starting your grow right is essential to avoid problems down the line. “Albino A+ can be prone to contamination,” says Barlow, who explains that albinism is the absence of pigmentation caused by cells that do not produce melanin. “This condition,” he says, “does tend to result in the organism being somewhat weaker, and in fungi may explain why they are fussy, more prone to contamination.” Though AA+ is leucistic, not albino, “we can assume something in the metabolic pathway is slightly broken,” says Barlow. Thus, a little extra care at the beginning of your grow can go a long way toward ensuring a healthy harvest.
Why Grow Your Own Albino A+ Mushrooms?
Where it’s legal or decriminalized to do so, growing your own AA+ mushrooms can be a rewarding way to get to know—and possibly love—them. Because it’s legal to possess mushroom spores for microscopy, many people consider growing their own to be a safer alternative to buying mushrooms on the street—particularly in an unregulated and underground market. Over time, it’s also a lot more economical to cultivate your source of mushrooms.
Beyond the practical considerations, relational—even spiritual—reasons can influence the decision to cultivate at home. “There’s a two-way relationship that happens when you grow mushrooms,” says MycoPDX. “You understand them. They understand you. And so when you eat them, there’s a unique kind of relational experience… You put hours, and however many dollars, into bringing this thing to life. And so there’s just a deeper communion that happens when you do consume it.”