Psilocybe caerulipes mushroom
Photo by Alan Rockefeller | Collage by DoubleBlind Mag

Psilocybe caerulipes is a Forager’s Delight—But Good Luck Finding It

The blue foot Psilocybe lurks on logs and stumps in the Northeastern United States—but spotting one is no easy task. (And be careful if you try.)

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DoubleBlind Mag

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Updated March 14, 2023

DoubleBlind Mag is devoted to fair, rigorous reporting by leading experts and journalists in the field of psychedelics. Read more about our editorial process and fact-checking here.

When it comes to magic mushrooms, certain species tend to take center stage in our minds: There’s the grower’s favorite, Psilocybe cubensis; the potent wood-lovers like Psilocybe cyanescens and Psilocybe azurescens; sclerotia producers like Psilocybe tampanensis and Psilocybe mexicana also make the cut. But did you know that there are at least 200 species of psilocybin-containing mushrooms scattered across the globe? And new ones are discovered more often than you might think. There’s a whole mycocopia of lesser-known species for keen psychedelic foragers to seek out. One of these more elusive mushrooms? The blue foot Psilocybe, Psilocybe caerulipes.

Psilocybe caerulipes takes its name from the Latin words “caerulea” (blue) and “pes” (foot), which gives rise to its common name. This species was first described in 1885 as Agaricus caerulipes by American mycologist and New York State Botanist Charles Horton Peck, before it was moved into the genus Psilocybe in 1887. The first species ever recorded was described from “South Ballston,” which, given Peck’s job as the NY State Botanist, probably referred to the town of Ballston in Upstate New York.

Although this mushroom bruises blue like any other psilocybin-containing species, the blue foot nickname likely comes from the dark blue/black color that is most commonly seen at the base of this mushroom’s white stem.

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Psilocybe caerulipes Potency

Though psilocybin and psilocin were first detected in P. caerulipes in 1965, there were no studies of the precise potency of this mushroom until recently. A study published in 2022 analyzed two collections of this species and found that six-month-old, dry mushrooms contained a psilocybin concentration of around 0.2–0.6 percent and a psilocin concentration of around 0.05–0.3 percent. The scientists also found smaller concentrations of other alkaloids, such as aeruginascin (0.002–0.003 percent), baeocystin (0.006–0.01 percent), and norbaeocystin. (0.002–0.005 percent).

READ: How to Identify Magic Mushrooms

Analysis of fresher samples using home potency tests found that Psilocybe caerulipes may contain over 1.5 percent psilocybin, which is a similar level of potency to the more commonly cultivated P. cubensis.

Where Can I Find Psilocybe caerulipes?

Psilocybe caerulipes range map
Psiloybe caerulipes range map by Alan Rockefeller | Wikimedia Commons

If you live in the Northeastern USA, P. caerulipes is a rare discovery. This mushroom grows especially well in subtropical and deciduous forests, especially those that are frequently logged and scattered with woody debris. 

Psilocybe caerulipes Habitat

P. caerulipes is mostly found in forests of the Northeastern USA, with a few observations noted in Ontario, Canada. The mushroom has also been spotted in Mexico, around the state of Veracruz—but, thus far, not in any US states south of North Carolina. Most observations of P. caerulipes are clustered around Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, with a few observations recorded as far west as Michigan.  

Psilocybe caerulipes
Photo by Joshua Hutchins via Wikimedia Commons

Blue-foot Psilocybe Growing Conditions

As a wood-loving species, P. caerulipes loves to grow on dead or dying wood, especially in birch, beech, or maple forests that are frequently logged and strewn with debris. The mushrooms might appear singly, though it’s more common to find them in dense clusters from either bare wood or wood covered by moss. It has a fairly wide growing season from early summer to late fall, or rarely, into early winter, especially after warm rains. 

Psilocybe caerulipes
Photo by Django Grootmyers via Mushroom Observer

Due to its rarity, there have been very few reports of growers deliberately cultivating this species. Attempts at indoor grows will likely follow the standard methods of growing spores on agar or grain. However, as P. caerulipes appears to be a wood-loving Psilocybe, their final bulk substrate should likely be mostly made of hardwood; mimicking their natural habitat and choosing woods like birch, beech or maple may also be a good choice to improve your chances of success.

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Those living in P. caerulipes’ native range of the Northeastern US would probably have good success growing these mushrooms outdoors in a shady, damp wood chip bed, ensuring regular watering during drier spells. Like other wood-loving Psilocybe species, blue foot Psilocybe should be fairly contamination resistant when grown outdoors.

Psilocybe caerulipes
Photo by Joshua Kalichman via Mushroom Observer

If you do try your hand at growing P. caerulipes, you’ll likely be one of the first few to do so, but keep in mind that cultivating any psilocybin-containing species may be considered “manufacture” of psilocybin, which is illegal in many parts of the world. Always familiarize yourself with the laws in your area before cultivating psilocybin mushrooms.

Psilocybe caerulipes Identification

Part of P. caerulipes’ rarity might be due to its low-key appearance. These mushrooms usually grow no larger than around 2.5 inches tall and about 1.5 inches across the cap. Their dark brown and green-tinged color make them difficult to spot in their natural habitat of decaying wood and leaf litter. Like many other Psilocybe species, P. caerulipes mushrooms change to a lighter color when they dry out (hygrophanous), so a day or two of dry weather might make spotting this mushroom a little easier.

The gills of P. caerulipes are packed fairly tightly under the cap and attach to the stem either directly (adnate) or with a little notch (sinuate to uncinate). This mushroom’s gills start off a light brown color in younger shrooms and become a rusty ochre as they start to produce spores. The edges of the gills are almost white, and you might be able to see a few small hairlike projections—what mycologists call “fimbriated.”

READ: How to Grow Mushrooms

psilocybe ovoideocystidiata
Psilocybe caerulipes lookalike Psilocybe ovoideocystidiata | Photo by TexturedSounds via Mushroom Observer

The off-white stem of P. caerulipes has a powdery appearance near the cap, becoming darker brown and streaked with whitish-gray lines towards the base. It is on this stem where the classic blueing reaction can be most easily spotted—as with all psilocybin-containing mushroom species, blue color can be observed when damaged or dried. However, the intensity of the color change can vary between mushrooms and might take some time to appear.

Psilocybe caerulipes Spore Print

As with most Psilocybe species, the spores of P. caerulipes are a dark purplish brown. Due to this mushroom’s rarity, spore prints or syringes of the blue foot Psilocybe are not often found for sale online.

Psilocybe caerulipes Look-alikes

As a fairly inconspicuous mushroom, P. caerulipes may resemble many of what mycologists call the “little brown mushrooms” (LBMs), an informal group of different mushroom species. Some LBMs can be highly poisonous—even deadly—such as those in genera of Galerina, Cortinarius, Hypholoma, and Leratiomyces. This means that your identification skills need to be highly attuned if you’re planning on foraging P. caerulipes for consumption. As always, if you’re not 100 percent certain, leave those mushrooms alone!

In addition to being confused for little brown mushrooms, P. caerulipes is sometimes confused with other closely related Psilocybe species. Due to their similar geographic range and growing season, P. caerulipes is sometimes confused with the larger Psilocybe ovoideocystidiata. Compared to P. ovoideocystidiata, P. caerulipes is smaller, fruits later in the year, and its stem lacks an annulus—the ring of tissue on the stem that shows the remains of the veil that covers the gills of younger mushrooms.

Some LBMs can be highly poisonous—even deadly—such as those in genera of Galerina, Cortinarius, Hypholoma, and Leratiomyces.

Famous German mycologist Jochen Gartz also stated that P. caerulipes might sometimes be confused with Psilocybe venenata, which has only been recorded growing in Japan at present (usually on a mix of dung, straw, and rotten wood). Confusion with this species may therefore be of little practical problem to those out foraging in P. caerulipes in their native habitat of Northern America, Canada, or Mexico—unless you get lost on the way to the woods and accidentally cross the Pacific Ocean!

When looking for P. caerulipes in the wild, further identification tips can be found from online sources and experienced foragers in places like The Shroomery, Mushroom Observer, or iNaturalist. Also, local mycology groups in your area can help you and often organize group forays, so consider joining one if you’ve been bitten by the mushroom-hunting bug! Keep in mind that foraging for Psilocybe species is still illegal in many places, and some mycology groups won’t endorse such practices—so be careful when judging your group’s appetite for this sort of thing, especially as a newcomer. Learn more about the ethics of mushroom foraging here.

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Consuming Psilocybe caerulipes

Potential misidentification risks aside, as P. caerulipes is found growing on wood, those consuming it should be aware of the potential risk of wood lover’s paralysis from this species. Though this species has not been explicitly linked to the condition, those consuming these mushrooms should proceed with a similar degree of caution as you would for other wood-loving species, especially given how little we know about P. caerulipes and wood lover’s paralysis itself. As with many other psilocybin-containing species, potency can vary considerably between different mushrooms, so always dose cautiously. 

Also, remember that possessing psilocybin mushrooms—even wild-foraged mushrooms—is still illegal in most places. As such, always consider the local laws in your area before foraging or engaging with these mushrooms. Although decriminalization movements are underfoot, possessing psilocybin always comes with a risk in the era of prohibition.

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