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Flying Saucer Mushrooms (Psilocybe Azurescens)

Flying Saucer Mushrooms (Psilocybe Azurescens)

Flying saucer mushrooms (Psilocybe azurescens) are one of the most potent species of psilocybin mushroom. This makes it a much sought-after psilocybin mushroom, as it can offer you much more bang for your buck.

Psilocybe azurescens grows in the wild and can also be easily cultivated outdoors. They’ve been given the name “flying saucer” because of the shape of the mushroom cap. These mushrooms belong to the genus Psilocybe, which is made up of 180 species.

It is claimed that flying saucer mushrooms were first discovered in 1979 by a group of Boy Scouts who were camping near the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. Some commentators believe the mushrooms were most likely known before this time, with local foragers referring to them as Psilocybe astoriensis or a variety of Psilocybe cyanescens.

In 1995, mycologists Paul Stamets and Jochen Gartz named this mushroom Psilocybe azurescens, after Stamets’ son Azureus, who had in turn been named after azure, the color that psilocybin mushrooms turn when damaged.

We are going to explore all of the various aspects of this species of mushroom, including: How to identify Psilocybe azurescens and its lookalikes How to grow flying saucer mushrooms Potency Dosage Flying saucer mushroom effects

As always, 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 flying saucer mushrooms, you need to be aware of the legal risks involved.

Possessing and/or cultivating these mushrooms is illegal in the United States under federal law. However, possession of personal amounts of psilocybin mushrooms has been decriminalized in the below areas:

  • State of Oregon
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Santa Cruz and Oakland, California
  • Washington D.C.
  • Somerville and Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan

Selling magic mushrooms in these locations is still illegal.

RELATED: 10 Most Potent Magic Mushrooms

Identifying Flying Saucer Mushrooms And Their Lookalikes

If you want to go out and pick flying saucer mushrooms in the wild, then you need to know exactly what they look like. After all, Psilocybe azurescens has some lookalikes that you should be aware of, especially since some of these are poisonous and, potentially, deadly.

Where Do Psilocybe Azurescens Grow?

2E59542 Magic mushroom (Psilocybe azurescens) is a species of psychedelic mushroom whose main active compounds are psilocybin and psilocin
Image via Alamy

The first step in identifying flying saucer mushrooms in the wild is knowing where they grow. We can answer this question in two ways: by describing the kind of habitat you’ll find them in and by highlighting the countries — and the specific locations in those countries — where Psilocybe azurescens grow.

Habitat

The preferred environment of this species ranges from caespitose (growing in tight, separated clusters) to gregarious (scattered and irregular) on deciduous wood chips and/or in sandy soils rich in lignicolous (woody) debris. The mushroom also has an affinity for coastal dune grasses.

Fruiting begins in late September and continues until “late December and early January”, as Stamets states in his book Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World (1996).

Distribution

Psilocybe azurescens grows naturally along a small area of the West Coast of the United States, including parts of Oregon and California. People have regularly found it as far south as Depoe Bay, Oregon, and as far north as Grays Harbor County, Washington. Its main locations are clustered around the Columbia River Delta.

Moreover, it is quite prevalent north of the Columbia River in Washington, from Long Beach north to Westport. And you can sometimes find it around decaying wood in the Williamette Valley of Oregon.

The small natural distribution of flying saucer mushrooms has encouraged a debate about whether they are, in fact, an introduced species to the area. Stamets, for instance, has suggested that they may have been introduced from debris washed down the Columbia from the old-growth forests upriver.

How To Identify Flying Saucer Mushrooms

You’ll be able to identify Psilocybe azurescens by knowing the distinctive features of the mushroom, which are as follows:

  • Cap (pileus): 3-10 cm in diameter, conic to convex, expanding to broadly convex and eventually flattening in maturity with a pronounced, persistent, and broad umbo (a nipple-like structure in the middle of the cap). The surface of the cap is smooth, viscous when moist, and covered by a separable gelatinous pellicle (the thin outer layer of a mushroom cap). Its color is chestnut to ochraceous brown to caramel, often becoming pitted with dark blue or bluish-black zones. The cap is also hygrophanous (it changes color based on the loss or absorption of water), fading to light straw color when dried. It strongly bruises blue when damaged. The margin of the cap is even, sometimes irregular and eroded when mature; it is slightly incurved at first, soon decurved, and flattening with maturity.
  • Gills (lamellae): The gills are ascending, sinuate to adnate, brown, often stained blue or black where damaged, close, mottled, and with whitish edges.
  • Stem (stipe): 9-20 cm long and 3-5 mm thick, silky white, dingy brown from the base, hollow at maturity, and made up of twisted, cartilaginous tissue. The base of the stem thickens downwards, is often curved, and features coarse tufts of mycelium, which often have azure tones. The mycelium surrounding the stem base is densely rhizomorphic (root-like) and silky white.
  • Taste: Extremely bitter.
  • Odor: Odorless to farinaceous (“flour-like”).

Psilocybe Azurescens Lookalikes

Flying saucer mushrooms are closely related to Psilocybe cyanescens (wavy cap mushrooms), Psilocybe allennii, the Australian species Psilocybe subaeruginosa, and the New Zealand species Psilocybe weraroa. Of these, they most closely resemble Psilocybe cyanescens and Psilocybe subaeruginosa. Since the latter doesn’t grow naturally where Psilocybe azurescens does, you don’t need to worry about picking it instead of flying saucer mushrooms.

Wavy cap mushrooms grow in a similar habitat as flying saucer mushrooms (on wood chips and other lignin-rich substrates), as well as in a similar region (the Pacific Northwest). If you picked wavy caps by mistake and consumed them, you don’t have that much to worry about, as these are also highly potent mushrooms, so recommended dosages for them are similar.

Nonetheless, you will still want to ensure you that have the species you intend to collect.

To the untrained eye, Psilocybe azurescens — like many other species belonging to the genus Psilocybe — can look like any other little brown mushroom (LBM). But if you know the distinctive features of these mushrooms described above, you should be able to easily distinguish them from their lookalikes.

It is crucially important to be able to do this, as some species of the genus Galerina — such as Galerina marginata — can be deadly (due to the presence of amatoxins), while other lookalikes may be poisonous.

The color of most Psilocybe mushroom spore prints is dark purplish-brown to purplish-black. In contrast, lookalikes of these mushrooms may feature rust or cream-colored spore prints, which may indicate that the species is poisonous. Carrying out a spore print, therefore, can be another way to ensure that you don’t pick and consume any mushrooms that will make you sick or put your life at risk.

How To Grow Psilocybe Azurescens

Growing flying saucer mushrooms involves a similar process as growing any other type of magic mushroom, although they are harder to grow than other species, such as Psilocybe cubensis, which is known to be one of the easiest to grow.

If you’re a novice mushroom cultivator, growing Psilocybe cubensis may be a better option, as this will give you a higher chance of being successful. However, with care, attention, and patience, you can certainly cultivate Psilocybe azurescens indoors as well.

You should refer to our guide on how to grow psilocybin mushrooms at home for detailed instructions, but let’s now offer a quick summary of everything you need and the steps you should take.

Psilocybe Azurescens Spores

First, you need to source some Psilocybe azurescens 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).

However, magic mushroom spores are 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 flying saucer mushroom spores. One way is to extract your spores from the mushrooms themselves.

The more popular option, though, 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.

How To Grow Psilocybe Azurescens Indoors

It’s best to use our detailed guide for following the steps for growing magic 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 (dried Psilocybe azurescens can retain their potency for around a year, whereas fresh mushrooms will only stay good for 5-10 days if kept in the fridge).

Growing Psilocybe Azurescens Outdoors

Our guide on growing magic mushrooms focuses specifically on doing so at home. Yet growing flying saucer mushrooms at home can be challenging since they require some specific conditions. Under the right conditions, however, they can easily grow outdoors.

If you want to grow Psilocybe azurescens outdoors, you need to keep certain things in mind.

Flying saucer mushrooms grow readily within mulched garden beds, as they like open shady areas, with reasonable moisture and deciduous trees. They are known to grow near rhododendrons, rose bushes, and azaleas. People have also discovered them growing among blackberry and thickets of Scotch Broom.

You can grow Psilocybe azurescens on a variety of wood-derived substrates such as Alder chips (Alnus rubra) or other woody mulches. You can also use cardboard or burlap.

To make growing them outdoors even easier, you can purchase a flying saucer mushroom grow kit. This would include woodchips colonized by Psilocybe azurescens mycelium, as well as a manual providing information on everything else you’ll need and instructions for growing.

Potency

As stated at the beginning of this article, Psilocybe azurescens is a highly potent species of psilocybin mushroom. It is one of the most potent magic mushrooms, in fact. This is due to its high concentration of psychedelic alkaloids.

To get a sense of its potency, let’s take a look at the concentrations of psilocybin and psilocin in several different species:

  • Psilocybe azurenscens: 1.78 percent psilocybin and 0.38 percent psilocin
  • Psilocybe semilanceata: 0.98 percent psilocybin and 0.2 percent psilocin
  • Psilocybe cyanescens: 0.85 percent psilocybin and 0.36 percent psilocin
  • Psilocybe tampanensis: 0.68 percent psilocybin and 0.32 percent psilocin
  • Psilocybe cubensis: 0.63 percent psilocybin and 0.60 percent psilocin

Due to their potency, flying saucer mushrooms are a popular option for microdosing, as you only need to take a very small dose to feel the intended effects.

Dosage

Because Psilocybe azurescens is a potent species, you will need to take a lower dosage compared to less potent magic mushrooms, assuming you want to get the same intensity of effects.

For example, Erowid lists the following dosages for Psilocybe cubensis, a medium-strength psilocybin mushroom:

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

Based on the average psilocybin and psilocin content of flying saucer mushrooms, it is generally recommended to take about half the normal dose of Psilocybe cubensis.

The website Shroomery has its own Magic Mushroom Dosage Calculator, which can tell you how many grams of a particular species of magic mushroom you should consume based on how intense you want the experience to be.

With this in mind, as well as Erowid’s dosage recommendations for Psilocybe cubensis, the following dosages for flying saucer mushrooms are generally reliable:

  • Threshold: 0.15 g
  • Light: 0.15-0.5 g
  • Common: 0.5-1.75 g
  • Strong: 1.75-2.5 g
  • Heavy: 2.5+ g

Flying Saucer Mushrooms Effects

When you consume flying saucer 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.

Flying Saucer Mushroom Effects At A Low Dose (0.15-0.5 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

Flying Saucer Mushroom Effects At A Medium Dose (0.5-1.75 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

Flying Saucer Mushroom Effects At A High Dose (1.75-2.5 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 anxiety, panic, 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 Flying Saucer Mushrooms Can Induce Mystical Effects

If you take 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: The feeling that you cannot adequately describe the experience in words

Duration Of Flying Saucer Mushroom Effects

A flying saucer 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 so quick and short-lived as the DMT and 5-MeO-DMT experiences are.

Psilocybin Benefits

There is a growing body of evidence indicating that psilocybin therapy can be helpful in the treatment of various conditions, 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 consuming Psilocybe azurescens, 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 psychedelics in this way entails greater risks than when taking them in the context of psychedelic-assisted therapy.

With all of the above information in mind, you will now be in a position to correctly identify them in the wild, grow them at home (either indoors or outdoors), and know how much of them to take in order to have the kind of experience you want.

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.

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