Melmac mushrooms are a product of human invention—and no, we don’t mean GMOs. Mycologists created this mushroom strain after generations of selective breeding in a lab. The result is something that looks and feels quite otherworldly; tangled, thick fungi that bruise blue when touched.
As the story goes, Melmac mushrooms are variants of the famed Penis Envy mushrooms. Some even suggest that Melmac’s are closer to the original Penis Envy, introduced to mycologists around the world in the 1970s. Although, the validity of this claim is subject to debate. These peculiar fungi are sometimes called “Melmac Penis Envy” or “Homestead Penis Envy” mushrooms. Penis Envy mushrooms are famous for their distinctive curved shape and unusual growth patterns. Yet, despite its unusual appearance, the Melmac mushroom strain comes with all of the same benefits you’d come to expect from any Psilocybe cubensis mushroom.
Melmac Mushroom History
We can thank activist and writer Terrence McKenna for introducing the world to the mushroom that would come to be Penis Envy. Lore suggests that McKenna collected spore samples from an interesting psilocybe in the Amazon Rainforest. These spores were later cultivated and propagated by other mycologists. After sending a few samples home, the genetics from the wild penis envy spores were able to be stabilized in a lab. Rich Gee (Richard Guitierrez) is credited with creating the modern Penis Envy strain we have come to recognize. It has since been a favorite of psychedelic enthusiasts worldwide.
In the 1980s, a company called Homestead began playing around with the original genetics of Penis Envy mushrooms. As the story goes, they eventually ended up with a variant that was so unique that they decided to give it a name—Melmac. Compared to the original Penis Envy mushrooms, Melmac mushrooms have contorted stems and wavy caps. “Gnarly” would be an apt description of this mushroom. Most likely, Homestead named the strain after the fictional home planet of Alf—the main character from the popular 80s sitcom. Homestead sold spore prints of this variant through the 1980s before the company disappeared. Like many “OG” strains of mushrooms, Melmacs are regaining their popularity amidst the current psychedelic revolution.
Effects and Characteristics
Melmac mushrooms produce psilocybin much like any other Psilocybe cubensis. Psilocybin is the primary psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms. When ingested, psilocybin is metabolized into the compound psilocin by the human body. The result is a psychedelic trip: a mind-altering experience that changes your perception of space, time, and sense of self. Feelings of nausea, anxiety, discomfort, and distress can accompany a psychedelic experience—factors that are made worse in uncomfortable environments.
Melmac Mushroom Potency
The potency of psilocybe mushrooms depends mainly on their growing conditions. Yet, some strains and species may more consistently produce more significant amounts of psilocybin than others—but there’s not a lot of research yet. Fortunately, the efforts of Oakland Hyphae and the Psilocybin Cup are starting to shed some light on the potency of different strains; Penis Envy mushrooms consistently rank among the most potent Psilocybe cubensis varieties. Yet, there haven’t been many tests or comparisons of the Malmec mushroom strain specifically.
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Melmac Mushroom Anatomical Differences
The distinguishing characteristics of Melmac mushrooms are their wavy cap and contorted stems. This mushroom’s general shape and curvature are similar to traditional Penis Envy mushrooms. However, Melmac’s wavy cap makes it visually distinct from other varieties. Melmac’s turn blue when bruised; a common feature among many psychoactive mushrooms. The blue coloration indicates the presence of psilocybin, which turns blue with oxidation.
Melmac Mushroom Variations and Hybrids
As we mentioned, Melmac mushrooms are a variant of the Penis Envy mushroom. They are perhaps more easily recognizable than other popular cubensis strains. But, it is essential to note that the concept of a “mushroom strain” itself is contentious. The word “strain” is often used interchangeably with cultivar or “cultivated variety.” Yet, many mushrooms marketed as cubensis strains are not distinguishable enough to warrant the title—most look like your common little brown mushroom and feature roughly the same potency as you can expect from any Psilocybe cubensis specimen.
Penis Envy is one exception. Penis Envy mushrooms consistently produce distinctive-shaped fruiting bodies—Melmac’s included. Other popular variants of Penis Envy include Albino Penis Envy (APE) and Penis Envy Uncut. Albino Penis Envy mushrooms resulted from crossing Penis Envy with PF Albino. Similar to Melmacs, APEs are thought to be quite potent. The latter, however, is a short and stout mushroom with a small cap. Also, APE’s cap is white instead of having a golden brown cap and can bruise with dark bluish tones. Trans Envy mushrooms are hybrids developed by combining Penis Envy with Transkei mushrooms. Although, whether or not this breeding has created a stabilized and distinct mushroom strain is a different story.
Melmac Mushroom Dosage
The most important thing to understand when thinking about dosing Melmac mushrooms is that they—as with psilocybin mushrooms in general—can be extremely potent. Everyone’s experience with mushrooms will be unique. Aside from set and setting, your personal body chemistry will impact the experience. Most psilonauts follow the adage “start low, go slow,” particularly for those with limited psychedelic experience.
A microdose is a dosage between 0.01 grams and 0.5 grams of mushrooms by dry weight. You might notice mild feelings of euphoria and relaxation, although a microdose should ultimately be sub-perceptual—a dose that won’t cause a psychedelic experience. A light dose would be between 0.5 grams and two grams. Typically this produces a more intense experience. This dose is sometimes called a creative dose—a more intense experience, but generally still able to interact with the world.
Taking between two and 3.5 grams is going to be considered a moderate dose. But don’t let the word “moderate” fool you—psilocybin mushrooms provide a powerfully mind-altering experience at this dosage. So, it’s wise to prepare yourself for a six-hour journey. This dosage inspires the full range of effects associated with these psychedelic mushrooms. Anything 3.5 grams and above is considered a “heroic dose;” prior experience and guidance are recommended for such profoundly mind-altering experiences.
Growing Melmac Mushrooms
Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms come from subtropical places in the world, so it’s no surprise that Melmac mushrooms will grow best in conditions that mimic a subtropical environment. Like many Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, Melmac’s grow well on grains, bovine and equine dung, and enriched soils.
Psilocybe cubensis strains are beloved by cultivators because they are relatively easy to grow. Melmac mushrooms are no exception; this mushroom is rumored to colonize aggressively and can produce a strong yield in ideal growing conditions. Like many cubies, Melmac mushrooms have that iconic golden brown color on their cap. Aesthetically, this strain typically produces medium-large-sized mushrooms with thick, dense stems. Melmac caps often split at the margins. Sporulation is moderate. Individual breeders will know best about the growth behavior and appearance of their particular specimens.
Melmac Mushroom Spores
Penis Envy mushrooms are notorious for producing very few spores—even when fully mature. Instead of creating spore prints, mycologists collect spores from the mushrooms with a swab and begin the cultivation process on agar plates. Melmac mushroom spores are a dark purple.
Buying Melmac Mushrooms
Cultivators can buy Melmac mushroom spores online in many different forms. You can get a liquid culture (spore syringe), spore swabs, a culture on an agar plate, and even a bag of grain that has already been colonized. In many places, spores are legal to purchase for “microscope purposes,” yet they become illegal once they begin to germinate or are otherwise used to cultivate mushrooms. Mushroom spores are illegal in California, Georgia, and Idaho.
Currently, it is only federally legal to purchase spores for microscope purposes. Although, many cities and regions have now decriminalized the cultivation and possession of psilocybin mushrooms for personal use. In decriminalized regions, psilocybin mushrooms are among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Always check your local laws regarding psilocybin and magic mushrooms before cultivating, foraging, or otherwise possessing these mind-altering fungi.
Melmac mushrooms have a rich history that—if the story proves correct—stretches all the way to the Amazon Rainforest. Thanks to their potency and unique physical characteristics, they quickly became a favorite amongst mycologists and consumers alike. And remember: the possession and cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms remain illegal in most places. Make sure to check the laws in your region before proceeding.