Let’s be honest: It’s hard to tell fact from fiction about psychoactive mushroom strains. Discerning the truth about the Stargazer Mushroom is no different. As the story goes, the Stargazer mushroom strain, or “Inca Stargazer,” is among the earliest, naturally occurring psilocybin mushroom strains to be cultivated by modern mycologists. Perhaps in some senses, this is true: Stargazer is a variety of Psilocybe cubensis, which is known for its potency and general ease of cultivation.
Stargazer Mushrooms History
Search any spore site, and you’ll find a similar narrative: Stargazer mushrooms were found in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, most notably around the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. You’ll also likely read that Stargazers owe their popularity to Paul Stamets and J.S. Chilton, who first featured them in his book The Mushroom Cultivator in 1983. The latter claim, at least, is untrue. Stamets and Chilton write about several strains of cubensis, yet the strains are named by their place of origin: Amazonian, Ecuadorian, Matias Romero, Misantla, and Palenque.
However, the authors are quick to note that other cubensis strains were in circulation at the time, perhaps even strains native to the regions mentioned above. The authors also say that these unnamed strains “may have features not in agreement with those described” of the named mushrooms described in the text. Yet, was the Incan Stargazer as we know it today mentioned here? The answer is simple: No.
Creating new strains is a tricky but not impossible task for mycologists; reputable spore companies can develop new varieties by testing the compatibility of the mycelia of different pre-existing strains, a process Stamets and Chilton describe in their book. Stamets and Chilton describe a “strain” as a group “of individuals in a species [of fungi] sharing a common genetic heritage but differing in some observable features of no taxonomic significance.”
Simply stated, a strain is a group of mushrooms that share inherited physical characteristics but are not so different that they represent a new mushroom species. So, is Stargazer a distinct mushroom strain? Perhaps—although it’s difficult to discern exactly what makes it so when reading about or buying Stargazer spores online. Your best bet to learn about the specifics of this particular mushroom variety is to contact the breeder from whence your spores came. At the time of writing, mushroom strains are not universally standardized in the same way as legal plant and fungi varieties sold in the average nursery or farm store.
Stargazer Mushrooms Potency
Due to prohibition, the potency of various psilocybin mushroom strains hasn’t been well-studied or well-documented over time. But, as more regions decriminalize, endeavors like Oakland Hyphae’s Psilocybin Cup seek to fill the research gap. Thus far, potency tests have revealed that strains like some cubensis strains Penis Envy and Golden Teacher appear to win consistently. Stargazer samples, however, have yet to reign champion—but that doesn’t mean that it won’t someday.
The potency of Psilocybe cubensis strains—Stargazer included—predominantly depends on environmental and growth conditions. So, like all cubies, Stargazer samples can likely be quite potent; it doesn’t take a considerable amount of psilocybin to produce a strong and meaningful trip. As such, “start low, go slow” are common words of advice from experienced psilonauts.
Stargazer Mushrooms Effects and Characteristics
Stargazer will feature many similar characteristics to other Psilocybe cubensis varieties, another one of the many reasons why it’s challenging to speak with certainty about the origin of this particular strain. A reputable breeder or spore trader should be able to provide further information about their specific specimens’ physical characteristics and growth patterns; they’re the ones who should know them best, after all. Nevertheless, here’s what is generally reported about Stargazer’s unique characteristics:
Stargazers tend to be small side. Their caps are between one and two inches (up to 50 millimeters) in diameter and have a convex shape. The cap color changes from a reddish-brown to golden brown to light yellow as the mushroom matures. The flesh of the caps is white. The surface of the cap is dry and spotted (remnants of its universal veil), and the stems can reach around five inches long (125 millimeters), have a pale yellow color, and show a partial veil. The gills start gray and darken as the mushroom matures, and the spores are a mix of dark purple and brown. It tends to grow in large flushes or clusters.
Stargazer Mushroom Effects
The effects associated with consuming Stargazer mushrooms are the result of psilocybin. Like other Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, Stargazers can produce feelings of interconnectedness, euphoria, transcending time, visual hallucinations, synesthesia, ego death, and altered auditory perception in large doses. In smaller amounts, Stargazers can provide mood elevation and things like visual tracers.
It is important to remember that the effects of psilocybin are subjective. Your body chemistry will play a part in how you experience psilocybin, but your set and setting also play an essential role. Psilocybin can produce various uncomfortable effects—particularly when used in challenging or unsafe environments. The psychedelic’s more problematic side effects include:
- Elevated heart rate
- Other feelings of discomfort
Stargazer Mushroom Dosage
Most psilonauts divide dosage amounts into four primary groups: a microdose, low dose, moderate dose, and heroic dose. A microdose of Stargazer would be between 0.1 and 0.5 grams of dried mushrooms. Doses between 0.5 and two grams is considered a low dose; it’s typical to experience mild to noticeable visuals with this dosage—tracers and flashes of color and light.
A moderate to large dose would sit between two and 3.5 grams. This amount would give the consumer access to all of the hallucinatory effects associated with the mushroom. The effects of a large dose can last up to 8 hours. Some brave souls choose to venture beyond 3.5 grams to a heroic dosage, yet such a dosage can provide a much more intense experience and comes with greater risks. Ultimately, every person’s sensitivity and experience of Stargazer will be unique, so beginners should start with a low amount before trying larger quantities.
Growing Stargazer Mushrooms
Stargazer is often described as easy to grow—as are many cubies, with a few exceptions. It’s also often claimed that this mushroom tends to be resistant to contamination. For the spawning stage, rye grain is the preferred medium for getting a healthy mycelium network going. You can use other grains and flours (oats, wheat grain, birdseed, popcorn, brown rice), but they cannot retain as much water as rye grain.
During the fruiting stage, Stargazer prefers a substrate that includes a mixture of materials. Typically people use coco coir, vermiculite, and gypsum as the base for their substrate. Cultivators often add horse manure to give extra nutrients to the substrate. There are several trustworthy sources from which you can get a pre-mixed substrate. Like many humans, Stargazers like a temperature that sits somewhere in the mid-70°F (24°C). They have an average grow time and are rumored to produce a bountiful yield—with the right growing conditions, of course.
Cultivating and possessing psilocybin mushrooms are now decriminalized in over a dozen cities and counties in the United States, making it among the lowest law enforcement priorities. Yet, currently, it is only federally legal to purchase spores for microscope purposes. Yet, it’s important to always check laws in your region before cultivating: Psilocybin is the active ingredient in Stargazers that can get you in trouble with authorities, so be sure to check the laws around this compound before you start cultivating this mushroom.
Finding reputable information in a world forced underground is never easy—figuring out the true stories behind strains like Stargazer is particularly challenging in a hushed climate. For this reason, it’s always recommended to browse forums, read reviews and recommendations, join local groups, and reach out to the place you plan to buy before you commit to any purchase. And remember: psilocybin mushrooms are still illegal to cultivate in many places. As such, review the laws in your area before continuing.