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Magic Truffles vs. Mushrooms: What’s the Difference?

Blue-bruising fruiting bodies aren’t the only gifts of the Psilocybe—some of the best treasures are hidden underground.

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Updated February 15, 2022

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.

We’ll kick things off with a simple statement: the difference between magic truffles vs. mushrooms is not as drastic as you might think. Because of their names, you might assume that they are different types of mushrooms that are merely connected through their magical properties: psilocybin. But, we have to break it to you—that’s not the case. Magic mushrooms and magic truffles are merely different parts of the same fungus. Trippy, right?

Sclerotia Magic Truffles vs. Mushrooms

Even if you have never come across a magic mushroom, most likely you still have a general sense of what it might look like because, well, the fruiting bodies of magic mushrooms look a lot like the fruiting bodies of regular mushrooms. The fruiting body is what most people think about when they think about mushrooms. It is the part of the fungi that grows above ground—the part that is often used to create delicious food or dietary supplements. This portion of a fungus is called a “fruiting body” due to its ability to produce spores, but the fruiting body is merely one part of the fungal organism.

mushroom truffle diagram
Image via Truffle Magic

Enter magic truffles. Magic truffles are not actually truffles at all, but subterranean parts of the fungus called sclerotia. Sclerotia are underground organs that some mushroom species—but not all—use to store nutrients that help them survive in unfavorable conditions. In contrast, truffles are reproductive organs produced by some fungi. Nevertheless, sclerotia and truffles both grow underground and, to the layman, have a similar appearance.

Only some Psilocybe species produce sclerotia. According to Paul Stamets in Psilocybe Mushrooms of the World, common are:

Psilocybe tampanensis is perhaps the most popular species used for magic truffle production. The species was first identified by mycologists Stephen Pollock and Gary Lincoff in Tampa, Florida in 1977. Although, the plain-looking fungi are rarely found in the wild. Instead, P.  tampanensis is almost exclusively a cultivated mushroom.

Read: Psilocybe mexicana: History, Potency, Cultivation, and More

Sclerotia Magic Truffles: What Are They?

Sclerotia—sclerotium singular—are hardened masses of mycelium, similar to tubers. A fungus will grow sclerotia as a way to store food in case there is an environmental emergency that threatens its survival. As mycologist Paul Stamets mentions in his aforementioned book, “In a dormant stage, [scleroita] can survive environmental disasters—a protective mechanism for surviving recurring fires that tend to sweep over grassland environments.”

Although, grassland fungi are far from the only species to produce sclerotia. If the environment becomes unfavorable for a mushroom to thrive and its fruiting body dies, these solid masses of concentrated mycelium can live dormant for years underground—just waiting for optimal growing conditions to regrow its mycelial network and mushroom. 

magic mushroom truffle
Adobe Stock

Like the fruiting bodies of mushrooms, sclerotia come in a variety of shapes and sizes that are dependent on the type of mushroom that produces them. Some are smaller than a millimeter and others can grow to over 30 centimeters. In many ways, they are structured like a seed, with a hard exterior that protects a more delicate interior.

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The core of sclerotia is filled with hyphae and enough food to survive for several years. Once favorable conditions are met, the hyphae at the center of the sclerotia use their stored reserves of food to grow into mycelium—reigniting the life-cycle of the mushroom.

Sclerotia Magic Truffles Effects and Potency

Fruiting bodies and sclerotia serve distinct functions for a mushroom—the mushroom’s purpose being the reproduction and the truffle being self-preservation; however, for the person looking to consume psilocybin, they serve the exact same function and provide similar experiences. Both Psilocybe fruiting bodies and sclerotia contain psilocybin, the primary compound responsible for the fungus’ psychedelic effects. The experiential effects of psilocybin will be similar, regardless of the form you choose—truffle or fruiting body. In general, the magic truffles experience will last around six hours.

The major difference between magic truffles and mushrooms is that they each may feature varying levels of potency. It commonly suggested that magic truffles offered lower concentrations of psilocybin—which, along with a legal loophole, is one reason why you can still legally purchase magic truffles in the Netherlands. However, there is limited scientific research to support this understanding;  anecdotal reports suggest that truffles produce more mild psychedelic experiences relative to their dry weight. The illicit nature of psilocybin mushrooms in most parts of the world has hindered scientific research on potency. Although, businesses like Oakland Hyphae hope to change that; they founded the Psilocybin Cup in an effort to compare and record average potency levels of different mushroom species and strains.

psilocybin mushrooms
Georgia Love for DoubleBlind

It is widely known that several different variables can influence mushroom (and potentially sclerotia) potency, including growing conditions and genetics. Two mushrooms growing next to each other can feature different levels of psilocybin. Further, if two mushrooms offer the same amount of psilocybin, but they are different sizes, the amount of psilocybin per gram of dried material will vary. This also applies to truffles; however, truffles offer less variation in their size and shape. So, when it comes to dosing psilocybin by weight, you can get more accurate results.

How Much Is A Magic Truffles Dose?

Currently, magic truffles are legal for sale in the Netherlands due to a legal loophole. “Soft psychedelics” were decriminalized in the country until 2008, when lawmakers tightened legal restrictions on most mind-bending substances. Under current law, the fruiting bodies of psychoactive mushrooms are illegal. But, sclerotia grow underground and thus are not currently criminalized under the current legal framework.

The lower potency of magic truffles often means that consumers experiment with larger dosages; although it’s essential to mention that the potency of different species of magic truffles can vary wildly. In the Netherlands, magic truffles are often sold in specialty shops in 15-gram packages—although dosage can vary depending on the strength of the sclerotia. In general, a microdose of dried magic truffles ranges between 0.5 and 2.0 grams. A dose of dried magic truffles can range between 7.5 grams and 10 grams, as reported within community feedback on Shroomery. The old adage “start low, go slow” always applies to psychedelic mushrooms.

Growing Sclerotia Magic Truffles vs. Mushrooms

Growing magic truffles is still illegal in most places, apart from the Netherlands. Although spores for sclerotia-producing psilocybes can be legally mail-ordered in many places, so long as they are used for “microscope purposes.” Once spores are cultivated, however, the resulting psychoactive fungi become illegal in many regions. But, there are a few caveats to mention—over a dozen cities across the U.S. and Canada have decriminalized the possession and personal cultivation of psychoactive mushrooms. Although the fungi remain federally illegal, cultivators who work within the boundaries of the law in these regions may not face prosecution from local authorities—although it’s always important to familiarize yourself with local laws before cultivation.

Magic truffles and magic mushrooms are different in the way they are cultivated and harvested. Fungi produce sclerotia in response to specific environmental conditions. As such, cultivators control factors like humidity and temperature in order to regulate mycelial growth in truffle-prone magic mushrooms. Magic mushroom cultivators must also pay close attention to humidity and temperature, but the environmental conditions needed to produce fruiting bodies are different from the environmental conditions needed to produce sclerotia.
 
There are also differences when harvesting magic truffles vs. mushrooms. Magic mushrooms can be harvested quite easily; they just need to be picked after they have reached maturity. Since magic truffles grow underground next to the fruiting body, they must be dug up after the fruiting body is harvested, and, given their small size, they can sometimes be difficult to locate. After mushrooms have been picked, they must be dried so they can be stored safely—avoiding things like mold from destroying them. Truffles also must be dried; however, they have a significantly lower amount of moisture. Truffles take less time to dry, but the process for drying and storing them is generally the same as with magic mushrooms: store in a cool, dark location in an air-tight container.  

Read: Five Best Mushroom Grow Kits

The drying and storing of mushrooms and truffles are similar; however, they differ quite a lot when it comes to dosing. There is a great amount of diversity in size and shape of the fruiting bodies of a mushroom. This will not only affect how long it takes for it to fully dry, but it also affects the potency of the mushroom. Magic truffles can be more difficult to break apart than magic mushrooms, but a truffle grinder will make quick work of any truffle you may encounter.

Magic Truffles vs. Mushrooms: A Conclusion

In short, you can expect to get the same experience from consuming a magic mushroom that you would if you consumed a magic truffle from the same mushroom. They are parts of the same organism—the only difference being in how they look, how they are cultivated and harvested, and how the psilocybin is concentrated. A dosage of dried magic truffles tends to be higher than a dosage of dried mushrooms. Truffle enthusiasts tout dosages of up to 10 grams for a significant psilocybin experience. Although, it’s always important to remember that potency varies significantly between fungal species—and potentially between individual sclerotium themselves. Magic truffles are legal to purchase in the Netherlands and it is always wise to ask for potency and dosage recommendations from shop personnel.

This article is intended for educational and harm reduction purposes and is not intended to promote illicit activity.

If you’re looking for peer support during or after a psychedelic experience, contact Fireside Project by calling or texting 6-2FIRESIDE. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for support.
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