Banded Mottlegill Mushrooms: Look-Alikes, Identification and More

Banded Mottlegill Mushrooms: Look-Alikes, Identification and More

You may not have heard of Panaeolus cinctulus (banded mottlegill mushrooms) before, but this is actually a very common, widely distributed species of psilocybin mushroom. You may be more familiar with species belonging to the Psilocybe genus, and this is indeed where most psychedelic mushrooms belong.

However, banded mottlegill mushrooms are one such species — along with Panaeolus cyanescens (“blue meanies”), for instance — that are categorized under the genus Panaeolus.

In the 1900s, these mushrooms were referred to as “weed Panaeolus” as they were commonly discovered in the beds of the commercially grown, grocery-store mushroom Agaricus bisporus. Mushroom farmers growing the latter had to weed out Panaeolus cinctulus because of its psychedelic properties (you certainly don’t want customers thinking they’re eating the edible mushrooms, only to find themselves experiencing some unexpected effects).

Unlike the genus Psilocybe, Panaeolus includes many species that are non-psychedelic, meaning that they do not contain the psychedelic compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Banded mottlegill mushrooms are weak to moderate in terms of potency, so they contain lower concentrations of these compounds compared to other species.

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If you want to use Panaeolus cinctulus, you should be aware of the law surrounding psilocybin mushrooms where you live, as mushrooms containing this psychedelic compound are illegal in most countries around the world. If you want to grow and possess banded mottlegill mushrooms, you need to be aware of the legal risks involved.

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How To Identify Panaeolus Cinctulus And Its Lookalikes

First, you should be aware that banded mottlegill mushrooms grow in the wild. So if you wanted to source them by picking them (instead of buying them from a street dealer or on the dark web), then you need to know what they look like. After all, banded mottlegill mushrooms have some lookalikes, many of which are harmless (and even tasty), but some are physically risky to consume.

Where Do Panaeolus Cinctulus Grow?

Panaeolus Cinctulus
Panaeolus cinctulus mushrooms on a pile of manure

Knowing where they grow is the first necessary step in identifying banded mottlegill mushrooms in the wild. This means being aware of the kind of habitat they grow in, as well as the countries (and regions in those countries) where you’ll find them.

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Panaeolus cinctulus is a cosmopolitan species (meaning it extends across all or most of the world) that grows solitary to gregarious to cespitose (densely clumped) on compost piles, well-fertilized lawns and gardens, and (rarely) directly on horse dung. It grows from Spring to Fall, growing abundantly after rain.

Where To Find Panaeolus Cinctulus In The World

You can find banded mottlegill mushrooms in many regions, including:

  • Africa (South Africa)
  • Canada
  • The United States. (It is common in Oregon, Alaska, Washington, and both Northern and Southern California, but it is also known to grow in all 50 states. According to American naturalist and mycologist David Arora, Panaeolus calculus is the most common psilocybin mushroom in California.)
  • Europe (Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Estonia, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Norway)
  • India
  • East Asia (Japan, South Korea)
  • Southeast Asia (Philippines)
  • Mexico
  • New Guinea
  • New Zealand
  • Russia
  • South America (Argentina, Chile, Brazil)

How To Identify Panaeolus Cinctulus

To identify banded mottlegill mushrooms, you need to know the distinctive features of the mushroom, which are as follows:

  • Cap (pileus): 1.5-5 cm, hemispherical to convex when young to broadly umbonate or plane in age. The cap is smooth and hygrophanous (it changes color as it loses or absorbs water): it is striking cinnamon-brown when moist and soot-black when wet (which disappears when the mushroom completely dries out). The outer band is typically darker.
  • Gills (lamellae): Close, adnate to adnexed, cream-colored when young, later mottled dingy brown, then to soot-black. The gill edges are white and slightly fringed, but turn blackish when fully mature.
  • Stem (stipe): 2-10 cm long, 2-9 mm thick, equal or tapered at the ends, reddish-brown to whitish, hollow, and no veil remnants. The base of the stem occasionally stains blue.
  • Taste: Farinaceous (“flour-like”) when fresh, saliferous (salty) when dried.
  • Odor: Slightly farinaceous.

Banded Mottlegill Mushroom Lookalikes

Panaeolus cinctulus is a “little brown mushroom” or LBM, a member of a large group of mostly unrelated species that can be very easy to mix up. Most other psilocybin mushrooms are LBMs, as are some culinary species, such as Enokitake and some honey mushrooms (e.g. Armillaria mellea).

Banded mottlegill mushrooms have some poisonous lookalikes as well, including the Deadly Galerina (Galerina marginata). The latter contains amatoxins, which have the potential to cause a fatal reaction.

Although careful attention to identification details and habitat will exclude all of the lookalikes, the danger is that someone may not pay attention to this. The result could be (at best) not tripping from the mushrooms you pick and consume or (at worst) a severe physical reaction from a poisonous species.

To help with identifying the correct species, you could:

  • Take a field guide for your area
  • Have some forums handy on your phone, such as Shroomery’s “Mushrooms Hunting and Identification” subforum
  • Use the iNaturalist app, which provides identifications when photos of mushrooms are uploaded
  • Join local Facebook groups (members may be aware of local lookalikes)

Also, make sure you check all the mushrooms as you collect them and avoid any that don’t fit the description of banded mottlegills mushrooms provided above.

How To Grow Panaeolus Cinctulus Mushrooms

If you don’t want to pick these mushrooms in the wild, it is certainly possible to cultivate them at home. Growing banded mottlegill mushrooms involves the same process as growing other species of psilocybin mushroom. It may require a bit more patience and care than growing Psilocybe cubensis, which is known to be relatively easy to grow, making it a great beginner species for novice growers. With patience, however, you can end up with a nice batch of banded mottlegill mushrooms.

You should refer to our guide on how to grow psilocybin mushrooms at home for detailed instructions. One important tip to keep in mind is to use horse manure as a nutrient-rich medium in which to grow them, as this is what these mushrooms typically like to grow in.

Let’s now offer a quick summary of everything you need and the steps you should take.

Panaeolus Cinctulus Spores

First, you need to source some Panaeolus cinctulus spores. These are the reproductive cells that allow the mushroom to grow. Magic mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin, so they are not themselves illegal. But once they germinate and begin producing mycelium, psilocybin will be produced, making the end product illegal (since psilocybin is a controlled substance in most countries).

Magic mushroom spores are, however, illegal in California, Georgia, and Idaho. In the other 47 states, you’re free to buy and possess them.

There are different ways to obtain banded mottlegill mushroom spores. The most popular option is to buy them online from a vendor selling a spore syringe or print.

The spore syringe is an oral syringe that contains just water and the wavy cap spores, while spore prints are little pieces of paper with the spores stamped onto them. The prints are dried and need to be rehydrated when you want to use them.

Steps For Growing Banded Mottlegill Mushrooms

It’s best to use our detailed guide for following the steps for growing psilocybin mushrooms. You need the right ingredients, equipment, and hygiene supplies before getting started. The necessary steps will then be:

  • Preparing the jars
  • Inoculation
  • Colonization
  • Preparing the grow chamber
  • Fruiting
  • Harvesting
  • Drying the mushrooms for long-term storage (Panaeolus cinctulus dried — like other magic mushroom species — will still be as potent for about a year, whereas if fresh, they will only stay good in the fridge for 5-10 days)

Banded Mottlegill Potency

The potency of Panaeolus cinctulus is generally considered to be weaker than that of Psilocybe cubensis, which is a medium-strength mushroom. This means you would need to take a higher dose of banded mottlegill mushrooms than you would if consuming Psilocybe cubensis (assuming you want a similar intensity of effects).

However, it’s crucial to underscore that potency can vary from specimen to specimen; plus variations in human sensitivity might mean you still get pronounced effects from what is consdiered a low dose.


There may be some uncertainty regarding just how potent banded mottlegill mushrooms are.

Nonetheless, a good rule of thumb is that they are generally a weak to moderately potent psilocybin mushroom. This means you should take a higher dosage of them compared to more potent magic mushroom species.

For example, Erowid lists the following dosages for Psilocybe cubensis:

  • Light: 0.25-1 g
  • Common: 1-2.5 g
  • Strong: 2.5-5 g
  • Heavy: 5+ g

With these calculations in mind, as well as Erowid’s dosage recommendations for Psilocybe cubensis, the following dosages for banded mottlegill mushrooms are a good rule of thumb:

  • Light: 0.35-1.25 g
  • Common: 1.25-3.5 g
  • Strong: 3.5-6 g
  • Heavy: 6+ g

Panaelous Cinctulus Effects

When you consume banded mottlegill mushrooms, you can experience a range of perceptual, emotional, physical, and mystical effects. They also vary depending on your set and setting, and the dosage you take.

Let’s look at the kind of experience you can expect from different dosages:

Banded Mottlegill Mushroom Effects At A Low Dose (0.35-1.25 g)

Perceptual Effects

  • Colors become slightly brighter
  • The edges of objects appear more distinct
  • Things look as if they’re in high definition
  • The features of objects moving slightly
  • Music and external sounds have a different quality to them

Emotional Effects

  • Positive mood
  • Calmness
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appreciation for music

Physical Effects

  • A slight feeling of nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increase heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
  • A light body high

Banded Mottlegill Mushroom Effects At A Medium Dose (1.25-3.5 g)

Perceptual Effects

  • Colors become noticeably enhanced and vivid
  • Objects move, morph, and “breathe”
  • You can see geometric patterns overlaid on objects and the environment, as well as behind closed eyelids
  • You can see tracers (trails left behind moving objects, similar to those seen in long exposure photography)
  • Synesthesia: When different sense perceptions become mixed, so you can see sounds and hear colors, for example Sounds become noticeably distorted

Emotional Effects

  • Euphoria (including when listening to music)
  • Empathy
  • Anxiety, fear, dread, or panic
  • A feeling of contentment or peace of mind
  • Gratitude
  • Paranoia

Physical Effects

  • Nausea (this feeling of uneasiness in the stomach usually only lasts at the beginning of the trip)
  • Sometimes vomiting
  • More dilated pupils
  • A further increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature
  • Perspiration
  • A stronger body high
  • Muscle weakness

Banded Mottlegill Mushroom Effects At A High Dose (3.5-6 g)

Perceptual Effects

  • Visions of imagery, scenes, and entities (both with eyes opened or closed)
  • Seeing objects and people morph in intense and strange ways
  • Strong geometric and fractal hallucinations
  • Auditory hallucinations

Emotional Effects

  • Ecstasy
  • Bliss
  • Boundless love
  • Intense feelings of gratitude
  • A strong feeling of euphoria and joy when listening to music
  • Intense states of dread or despair
  • A feeling of sacredness

Physical Effects

  • Strong nausea
  • A greater chance of vomiting
  • An intense body high
  • Loss of coordination (this is why it’s important to have a trip sitter when taking a high dose, as they can ensure that you don’t jeopardize your physical safety in any way)

A Strong Dose Of Banded Mottlegill Mushrooms Can Induce Mystical Effects

If taking a high dose of magic mushrooms, and potentially if you take a medium dose, you can experience mystical effects, which classically include:

  • A feeling of unity (also known as oneness)
  • Noetic quality: the feeling of gaining insightful knowledge, experienced at an intuitive level. You may have the sense of encountering ultimate reality
  • A sense of sacredness or reverence
  • Positive mood: feelings of peace, tranquility, ecstasy, awe, or joy
  • Transcendence of time and space: you may have the sense of being ‘outside time’, being in a realm with no spatial boundaries, or existing in a timeless state
  • Ineffability: you feel that you cannot adequately describe the experience in words

Psilocybin Benefits

There is a growing body of evidence indicating that psilocybin can be helpful in the treatment of various mental health issues, including:

  • Major depression and treatment-resistant depression
  • End-of-life anxiety
  • Smoking addiction
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

We should emphasize, nonetheless, that we know about these potential benefits from clinical trials, which involve controlled, supervised conditions, with trained psychotherapists who can provide emotional support to participants if needed.

If you want to consume Panaeolus cinctulus or any other psilocybin mushroom in order to experience therapeutic benefits, it is possible you will find relief from emotional distress and learn some important lessons and insights. But self-medicating with psychedelics in this way entails greater risks than when taking them in the context of psychedelic-assisted therapy.

Duration Of Panaolus Cinctulus Effects

A banded mottlegill mushroom trip will generally last between 4-6 hours. This duration is pretty consistent. In clinical trials involving psilocybin, most sessions will last up to six hours. After this time, the participants will no longer experience any psychedelic effects.

But the duration of a psilocybin experience for any individual depends on a few factors:

  • Dosage: Taking a low dose of magic mushrooms could result in a trip lasting only a few hours, whereas consuming a high dose could lead to a six-hour experience.
  • Method of consumption: It takes around 30 minutes for shrooms to kick in. But you can quicken this process through lemon tekking — it is believed the citric acid in the lemon juice breaks down the mushroom material, saving your body some time it would otherwise spend breaking it down. The lemon tek method may result in a faster onset and a stronger and shorter journey than eating dried mushrooms as they are.
  • Eating psilocybin mushrooms on an empty stomach can lead to a faster onset than consuming them on a full stomach.
  • Cannabis may elongate a magic mushroom trip if you smoke it towards the end of the experience. This is because cannabis tends to potentiate the effects of psychedelics. Not everyone may experience this effect, however.

Psilocybin mushrooms have neither long-lasting nor short-lasting effects. Here is the duration of other psychedelics, so you can get a better sense of this:

  • DMT: 5-30 minutes
  • 5-MeO-DMT: 15-45 minutes
  • LSD: 8-14 hours
  • Mescaline: 8-16 hours
  • Ibogaine: 8-24 hours

The duration of a mushroom trip is comparable to that of ayahuasca (also 4-6 hours). For many users, 4-6 hours of tripping is ideal; it means the experience is easier to fit into a day and less likely to interrupt sleep than, say, mescaline or LSD. But it is also not quick and short-lived like the DMT or 5-MeO-DMT experience, so there’s still plenty of time to digest what is happening.

Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe

View all posts by Sam Woolfe

Sam Woolfe is a freelance writer based in London. His main areas of interest include mental health, mystical experiences, the history of psychedelics, and the philosophy of psychedelics. He first became fascinated by psychedelics after reading Aldous Huxley's description of the mescaline experience in The Doors of Perception. Since then, he has researched and written about psychedelics for various publications, covering the legality of psychedelics, drug policy reform, and psychedelic science.

This post was approved by mycologist Caine Barlow

Caine is a mycologist and educator who is skilled in mushroom cultivation, cell culture, and biotechnology. He has a Masterโ€™s Degree focused in Science (Bioinformatics) from University of Melbourne. He focuses on teaching how to culture and grow gourmet fungi while partnering with other organizations to help promote the discussion and conservation of fungi in the developing field of Conservation Mycology.

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Comments (1)

  • Sherece
    October 20, 2023 at 3:27 am Reply

    Thank you for your energy ๐Ÿ™ˆ๐Ÿ™‰๐Ÿ™Š

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