hand holding hillbilly mushrooms

Hillbilly Mushrooms—The Best Microdose?

This magic mushie took home awards at the Hyphae Cup. So, what makes it so special?

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Updated January 11, 2024

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Hillbilly mushrooms are a cultivated variety of magic mushrooms—a variation of the Psilocybe cubensis fungus. P. cubensis is the most common species of magic mushrooms, known for its unfussy growing habits and fun, gentle trips. Like with many magic mushroom varieties, interest in the stout-stemmed Hillbilly has waxed and waned over the past two decades—although it enjoyed a distinct moment in the limelight after winning the Hyphae Cup microdose category in Spring 2022. Hyphae Labs, which runs the Hyphae Cup, operates in Oakland, where psilocybin mushrooms are decriminalized. 

Hillbilly Mushroom Basics

Mazatec communities in Mexico have used psilocybin mushrooms for time immemorial. Psychoactive mushroom cultivation began in the West in the 1980s, over two decades after Mazatec Wise One María Sabina first gave psilocybin mushrooms to amateur mycologist R. Gordon Wasson, as she was instructed to by a town authority. In Mazatec tradition, the mushrooms are used to heal the sick. Years later, ethnobotanists and activists Terence and Dennis McKenna concocted a method for cultivating psilocybin mushrooms at home.

Hillbilly mushrooms have been on the scene since the late 1990s or early 2000s. A Mycotopia user known—unsurprisingly—as “Hillbilly” is believed to have foraged them in Arkansas. From their roots in the American South, Hillbillies’ range and notoriety have expanded, and they are now known to grow wild in many places where other P. cubensis strains thrive. According to chemist and Tryp Labs founder Jordan Jacobs, this winner of the Spring 2022 Hyphae Cup microdose category remains a mainstay among growers and psychonauts, according to its impressive growth rates, ease of cultivation, and euphoric experience.

“It was pretty interesting because my Hillbilly came in as a microdose mushroom [in the Spring 2022 Hyphae Cup],” says Ophelia Chong, instructor for DoubleBlind’s How to Grow Mushrooms course. “From that, Hillbillies just exploded because everyone saw this as a microdose mushroom and started growing it themselves.”

More than a year on, says Chong, Hillbillies’ trendiness declined somewhat among those chasing higher potency mushrooms over the microdose experience. “We’re finding this marketplace consumerism [that equates high psilocin and psilocybin content with higher value] … so Hillbillies went by the wayside.”  

While it’s true that Hillbillies may are left out of some conversations in favor of higher potency varieties, they still have plenty of fans, says Jacobs, who notes continued interest in the mushroom social media space among “prospective breeders looking to push the envelope in strain development, beginners looking for a forgiving strain, and growers looking for a consistent production organism.”

hillbilly psilocybin mushrooms

“I still love Hillbillies,” says Chong, who founded a cannabis photo bank called Stockpot Images in 2016 and first learned to grow mushrooms using Dr. K. Mandrake’s The Psilocybin Mushroom Bible, along with a hodgepodge of online videos and a lot of trial and error. “They’re a great mushroom for new people.”

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Hillbillies Mushroom Characteristics

“It’s been documented since at least 2005 that the strain can take on two different phenotypes,” says Jacobs. One features the iconically thick stems and caps often associated with Hillbilly mushrooms, while the other, less common, phenotype features taller stems and a wider canopy. Because of natural variations within mushroom varieties, the fact that Hillbillies are often crossed with other mushrooms, and their ability to generate mutant varieties, there’s a wide range of forms Hillbillies can express. 

“I really like how polymorphous they can be,” says Jacobs, who’s consistently seen Hillbilly samples through the years at Tryp Labs and finds that the strain “is in constant rotation” for many growers and psychonauts.

Still, most quality Hillbilly grows, says Jaocbs, live up to the variety’s stout and sturdy reputation by producing “dense, wall-to-wall canopies—with some examples having enough combined strength to hold gallon jugs of water.” 

Though some in the mycology community may be reluctant to admit it, says Chong, “a lot of us are into mushroom porn—like, ‘oh man, that’s a big one, as fat as my arm’”—which is how she recalls falling in love with the stocky Hillbilly variety earlier in her journey. “It was chunky,” she says, “like a little beach ball—and you just wanted to hug it.” 

Hillbilly mushrooms share some characteristics with other P. cubensis varieties such as Golden Teachers, Amazonians, Penis Envy, and Melmak, with a cap color that ranges from orange-brown to classic earth-toned—or “good ol funky brown,”—according to Chong. 

tub of hillbilly mushrooms growing

Mutant varieties of Hillbilly mushrooms can also grow quite large, says Jacobs, who’s seen specimens with fresh weights of one pound or more. “To a breeder,” he says, “these monstrous and aggressive traits can be desirable to cross with extremely potent strains and yield a productive, potent strain.” As an example, the cross known as Black Pearl draws size and vigor from its Hillbilly parent and pulls potency from TBC Nebula. 

On the other hand, a breeder may want to bring together mushrooms with similar traits, such as Hillbilly and Penis Envy (a cross known, amusingly, as Country Cock), to see, says Jacobs, “how far one can express a particular phenotype.”

Effects And Dosage

Like other P. cubensis varieties, Hillbilly mushrooms contain the psychoactive compounds psilocin and psilocybin and, with a sufficient dose, will produce psychotropic effects.

Hillbilly Mushrooms Effects

Users tend to detail a Hillbilly mushroom trip with soft descriptors and pro-social language: euphoric, friendly, giggly, and gentle. Because tripping with Hillbillies is associated with more laughter and fewer difficult experiences, they’re often seen as a good magic mushroom for less experienced psychonauts.

And while some users find Hillbilly to be a visual strain, that’s not necessarily what to expect, says Chong. “The mushroom is not there to offer you extreme visuals or audio hallucinations. It is there to help,” she says. Set and setting, along with the user’s particular brain chemistry, influence the direction of a trip. “The mushroom,” Chong says, “is just the key to open that door.” 

A Hillbilly mushroom trip, according to Chong, gently coaxes the user into greater awareness with its friendly, laid-back vibe. “It says, ‘We’re gonna see some things, but it’s not gonna be too bad. You know? I’m your friend.’”  

In the lab, however, Jacobs hasn’t seen specific qualities in Hillbillies’ chemical profile to set them apart dramatically from other cubensis strains and varieties. This underscores that research into the relationship between mushroom strain or variety and the user’s experience remains largely anecdotal. 

hillybilly mushroom cap

Hillbilly Mushrooms Onset and Timing

Depending on factors like metabolism and mode of ingestion (i.e., the mushroom tek used), you’re likely to feel Hillbillies’ effects within 30 to 60 minutes. The trip can last about six hours, possibly more, with a peak of about one hour. 

Hillbilly Mushrooms Potency

As exemplified by Chong’s winning sample in the Hyphae Cup’s microdose category, Hillbillies have a reputation as cubensis mushrooms of low to moderate potency (the entry, which appears under the name SYE, came in at 4.93 milligrams per gram for total tryptamines). 

However, in the mycology world, few factors are constant. Each grower, says Jacobs, contributes their own “twang or sauce, their vision of the ideal Hillbilly,” which leads to variations in potency and contributes to the ever-changing genome. 

In the lab, Jordan has recorded Hillbilly samples within a wide range of four milligrams per gram to 13 milligrams per gram, with an average of seven milligrams per gram. “This,” he says, “puts them in the range of average to potent.”

For context, three to five grams of average potency Hillbilly mushrooms would likely pack between 20 and 35 milligrams of psilocybin, which is the same dose range used in clinical trials, says Jacobs, “to induce profound mystical experiences.” In other words, Hillbilly mushrooms may be more potent than you think.

hillbilly mushrooms

For those home growers lacking access to lab testing, Jacobs recommends homogenizing the fruits for more consistent dosing. Some prefer to simply dry and pulverize mushroom material into a powder, while others make extracts from the fruit. Growers can use a home test kit on their homogenized material; alternatively, more experienced users can experiment with smaller doses to gauge potency.

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Hillbilly Mushrooms Dosage

Like with other P. cubensis mushrooms, dosage guidelines for Hillbilly mushrooms are based on dry weight:

  • Microdose: 0.1 – 0.5 grams
  • Low Dose: .5 – 2 grams
  • Moderate Dose: 2 – 3.5 grams
  • High Dose: 3.5 – 5 grams and above

It’s important to know that the potency of magic mushroom strains can vary quite a lot from batch to batch—even mushroom to mushroom—and that dosing by dry weight is a time-honored but inexact method.

READ: Where Are Magic Mushrooms Legal?

Growing Hillbilly Mushrooms

Cultivating psilocybin mushrooms is illegal in most places around the world. As such, it’s vital to familiarize yourself with your area’s laws before working with psilocybin mushrooms. At the time of writing, psilocybin mushrooms are not controlled in Jamacia, and home cultivation is decriminalized in a handful of U.S. cities and counties. Select counties in the state of Oregon allow psilocybin mushroom cultivation by licensed manufacturers who sell to state-legal psilocybin service centers. In most other places, cultivation is illegal.

hillbilly mushrooms

For those that are able to grow without criminalization, Hillbilly mushrooms are often considered an easy and forgiving variety for beginner and intermediate growers. They thrive in any substrate normally used for cubensis (including grain, bovine dung, equine dung, and enriched soils), tend to resist contamination, and are quick colonizers. They’re also adaptable to changes, such as temperature fluctuation, in their growing conditions.

Even so, successful mushroom growers take the necessary steps to avoid contamination and establish a healthy grow from the beginning. “Yes, it may be a more sturdy and resistant mushroom,” says Chong, “but do it right the first time.” She cautions, “If you miss something or you wait too long—you’re not gonna get a grow.”

“I could probably plant a whole rice field with all the bags that were contaminated,” admits Chong, who’s now in her seventh year growing mushrooms and who’s since taught thousands of people to grow their own. “But each thing I did, I learned from it. So failure breeds success.”

Foraging Hillbilly Mushrooms

Hillbilly mushrooms can grow abundantly in many environments where other P. cubensis also live. However, foragers should be wary of a possible look-alike, the toxic mushrooms known as Deadly Galerina, and ensure to identify mushroom species correctly. Like cultivation, possessing psilocybin mushrooms is illegal in most places—with the exception of select locations that have decriminalized or do not control psilocybin mushrooms.

For those interested in wild gathering, Chong recommends attending mushroom festivals, which often take place at peak foraging times of the year and feature expert advice on the practice.

hillbilly mushrooms

“Because mushrooms are so in the mind of the audience right now—a large audience,” says Chong, we’re seeing more cases of over-foraging leading to resource depletion. 

“Be kind,” says Chong, “and remember to leave something behind… Because if you don’t, you will not have it for yourself next year—or for other people. This was given to you by nature; you’re not paying for it. So you’ve got to pay back by not stripping it clean.”

*This article is intended for educational purposes and is not intended to promote illicit activity. Please consult and follow the laws in your region pertaining to psilocybin mushrooms.

DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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