There are 14,000 different species of mushrooms, and more than 180 different kinds of mushrooms containing psilocybin, the primary psychoactive ingredient in what’s often referred to as “shrooms.”
The most popular species of psilocybin-containing mushroom is Psilocybe cubensis. This is largely because they are easy to cultivate at home. Within the species Psilocybe cubensis—also at times referred to as “cubes” or “gold caps” (because of their golden caps)—there are strains such as B+, Penis Envy, and Golden Teachers. However, as DoubleBlind mycology teacher Dr. K Mandrake has written, it’s important to distinguish between distinct strains and marketing—growers sometimes attempt to create new strains, but a strain only exists if it can be reproduced consistently with the same characteristics.
In addition to Psilocybe cubensis, some well-known species of magic mushrooms include Psilocybe semilanceata (aka Liberty Caps), Psilocybe azurescens (famous for being one of the most potent shrooms in the world), and Copelandia cyanescens a.k.a. Panaeolus cyanescens (Blue Meanies). Psilocybe caerulescens are famous for being the shrooms consumed and served ceremonially by legendary curandera Maria Sabina. Sabina is largely credited for introducing magic mushrooms to the Western world, as she held a ceremony for famed mycologist and banker R. Gordon Wasson and he wrote about the experience for LIFE Magazine in 1957. Here, we provide the most thorough and up-to-date information on the most common types of magic mushrooms and how to identify them.
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