10 Most Potent Magic Mushrooms
Interest in psychedelic-assisted therapy continues to grow — with many people investigating a variety of psychedelics as they think about their own healing. This leads many to research things like the most potent magic mushrooms from around the world, hoping the healing powers bring life-changing benefits.
Of particular interest are psilocybin-containing fungi, with people showing a lot of interest not only in psilocybin mushrooms, but also in what species grow near them, in what habitats, and even their ecological role. Most conversations around psilocybin-containing fungi come around to the fact that the amount of psilocybin and psilocin can vary dramatically — not only between species but also within a species.
There is a significant range of potency in Psilocybin-containing fungi; from species that produce no psilocybin at all, through to mutant Psilocybe cubensis that are pushing the boundaries, not only of potency but morphology! This article will focus on naturally occurring species, with an afterword on a couple of the more interesting cultivated types.
How do we best evaluate the most potent magic mushrooms? When discussing potency, the two primary alkaloids discussed are the amount of Psilocybin and Psilocin.
With an improving understanding of the chemistry and analysis of psilocybin-(and more)-containing fungi, the amount of total tryptamine content is more accurate. However, this is problematic, as there is uncertainty about how active some tryptamines really are. Potency is evaluated according to the weight of the dried mushroom for all compounds.
Contents of this article
- Is It All About Dose?
- The 10 Most Potent Magic Mushrooms
- 10. Psilocybe Cubensis (Iconic Magic Mushroom)
- 9. Psilocybe Tampanensis (Philosophers stones)
- 8. Psilocybe Samuiensis
- 7. Psilocybe Cyanescens (Wavy Caps)
- 6. Psilocybe Baeocystis (Bottle Caps)
- 5. Psilocybe Semilanceata (Liberty Caps)
- 4. Psilocybe Serbica
- 3. Panaeolus Cyanescens (Blue Meanies)
- 2. Psilocybe Azurescens (Flying Saucers)
- 1. Psilocybe Subaeruginosa (P. subs)
- A Bonus Mushroom: Psilocybe Weilii
- Notable Absences
- Cultivated Mushrooms
- Challenges Associated With The Most Potent Magic Mushrooms
Is It All About Dose?
But why the curiosity about the most potent magic mushrooms? Gone are the heady days of people dosing without thinking about the quantity consumed. People are now approaching their shrooms dosage with sensitivity to intentions and also context.
There are two aspects to dosing with psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
There is microdosing psilocybin mushrooms, the use of psilocybin at sub-perceptual doses to help facilitate neurogenesis and promote creativity, and then there is macrodosing. The different levels of a macrodose are almost a science in themselves, the “museum dose,” medium dose, high dose, and the Terrance McKenna “5 grams in silent darkness” dose.
One reason to use higher dosage mushrooms is for long-term storage. Species that are higher in psilocybin are better for storage as psilocybin is stable for much longer, psilocin being much more susceptible to rapid breakdown. Higher potency means you will have less dried material to consume (some people report feeling unwell after consuming magic mushrooms). And less physical mass to store, but makes the dose harder to measure — particularly for microdosing.
A Note About Safety
Some of the following mushrooms are unpredictable in their potency — and the figures are based on natural ranges. When cultivated indoors, potency can increase significantly! You occasionally hear anecdotal stories of people thinking they are talking a museum to medium dose, only to appear six hours later with eyes looking into forever, talking about their four-hour DMT-like experience.
When taking macrodoses with high potency species, it is recommended to either journey with another person or let someone know what you are dosing, where you will be, and maybe even have their number on a fast dial on your phone. High potency should also be done with preparation respect to set and setting.
Lastly, the wood loving species that are mentioned may on rare occasions result in a syndrome referred to as Wood Lovers Paralysis (WLP). This syndrome consists of temporary paralysis, it may begin between two to four hours into the experience, starting in your hands, arms and legs, or even your mouth. The paralysis has been known to occur within 24 hours of the dose, even after the psychoactive effects have worn off, so caution is advised.
The 10 Most Potent Magic Mushrooms
Following is the list of the 10 most potent magic mushrooms — meaning psilocybin-containing fungi. Keeping in mind that not all species have been analyzed. Scientific knowledge around psilocybin-containing mushrooms is limited due to legal restrictions in many parts of the world, researchers requiring permits and/or licenses to be able to work with specimens, cultures and the tryptamines they produce.
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Many species are reported with the maximum known potency. It is important to keep in mind there is a range of potency, and the reported maximum may not be the full maximum potency a species is capable of.
10. Psilocybe Cubensis (Iconic Magic Mushroom)
Psilocybe cubensis, the iconic “magic mushroom”, is reported to contain 0.63 percent psilocybin, 0.60 percent psilocin, and .025 percent baeocystin (Gartz, 1994; Stijve and de Meijer, 1993). This species is known to be capable of much higher levels of tryptamine alkaloids when cultivated (see below).
P. cubensis is one of the most commonly sourced species of “magic mushrooms” because it is the most easily cultivated due to their ease of growth. Related products include spore prints, spore syringes, and grow kits.
A lot of research has been carried out with cubensis, and many different subspecies have been bred. It is known as a versatile species. In the wild, Psilocybe cubensis is found spread across the world in tropical and subtropical climates.
9. Psilocybe Tampanensis (Philosophers stones)
Psilocybe tampanensis is the species that is referred to as “philosophers stones”, or “magic truffles”. They have been reported as containing 0.68 percent psilocybin and 0.32 percent psilocin (Gartz, 1994). The dried mushroom can contain up to 1% psilocin and psilocybin.
The “truffles” are hardened sclerotia (which is not a true truffle), which form from the mycelium.
In the wild, these are rare, and the sclerotia grows as a form of protection in case of wildfires or other traumatic events. Due to the legal status of sclerotia in the Netherlands, where the mycelium but not the mushroom is legal, they are a popular choice for those looking to trip legally.
8. Psilocybe Samuiensis
Psilocybe samuiensis is known from Thailand, Ranong Province. And occurs on the small tropical island Koh Samui, and at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but is also known to occur in northern Australia. Psilocybin and psilocin in the fruit bodies ranged from 0.023–0.90% (dry weight) and 0.05–0.81%, respectively. Baeocystin was also detected at the concentration of 0.01–0.05% (Gartz, Allen, and Merlin, 1994).
P. Samuiensis grows in soil containing mixtures of sand and clay. It grows scattered to gregarious amongst wet grassy areas during tropical and subtropical wet seasons.
7. Psilocybe Cyanescens (Wavy Caps)
Psilocybe cyanescens “Wavy Cap mushrooms”, despite it being a close relative of Psilocybe subaeruginosa and Psilocybe azurescens, clocks in at 0.85 percent psilocybin and 0.36 percent psilocin (Stijve and Kuyper, 1985; Repke et al., 1977).
These potent magic mushrooms are a widespread species in parts of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Their range is increasing due to the use of mulch to suppress weed growth. They are a wood loving species and will readily grow through wood mulch.
They are also known to fruit in large numbers. Urban legend has it that in the UK, a patch containing 100,000 mushrooms was once found.
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6. Psilocybe Baeocystis (Bottle Caps)
Psilocybe baeocystis “Bottle caps”, “knobby tops”, “Blue bells”, “Olive caps”. This species is common throughout the Pacific Northwest where it grows solitary or in groups, and scattered to numerous on ground bark, wood chips, peat moss, decaying conifer mulch, occasionally on lawns, pastures, and rarely in coniferous forests.
It has been reported to contain 0.85 percent psilocybin and 0.59 percent psilocin, and 0.10 percent baeocystin (Repke et al., 1977; Beug and Bigwood, 1982).
It is dark olive brown to buff brown in color, occasionally steel blue; it has an hygrophanous cap, with a gelatinous separable pellicle, as it dries it tends toward copper brown in the center.
P. baeocystis is often found growing under plants like rhododendrons and rose bushes in mulched garden beds, sometimes growing amongst other Psilocybe species such as Psilocybe stuntzii and Psilocybe cyanescens.
5. Psilocybe Semilanceata (Liberty Caps)
This species of magic mushrooms takes its common name from the Phrygian cap, or the “liberty cap,” which it resembles. The original liberty cap was a hat worn by freed slaves in the Roman world to mark their status. They were no longer property but not truly “free.” The hat was a symbol of both pride and shame.
P. semilanceata is known to contain 0.98 percent psilocybin, 0.02 percent psilocin, and 0.36 percent baeocystin (Gartz, 1994). For many, Psilocybe semilanceata is the quintessential magic mushroom.
Colloquially known as “liberty caps” it is instantly recognizable from its bell-shaped cap, and distinctive pellicle. Psilocybe semilanceata is the most widespread magic mushroom, growing across northern Europe, where it is considered to be native, northern parts of North America, Southern Australia, New Zealand, and South America.
4. Psilocybe Serbica
Psilocybe serbica is a European species discovered by Horak in 1969. It is reported as containing 1.34 percent psilocybin, 0.11 percent psilocin, and 0.02 percent baeocystin (Gartz and Muller, 1989; Gartz, 1994).
P. serbica occurs in the Czech Republic and central Europe — once known as Bohemia, hence the synonymous name, Psilocybe bohemica. The species is found growing mostly in groups. Typically on well decayed deciduous and coniferous wood, on twigs, compost, and plant humus. The cap is often buff-brown to dingy orangish-brown and pale reddish-brown when dry, smooth, hygrophanous, not viscid and without a separable gelatinous pellicle. The stem is whitish to cream-colored, bruising blue when injured.
3. Panaeolus Cyanescens (Blue Meanies)
While not a Psilocybe species, this is one of the strongest psilocybin and psilocin containing species in the world. The species is often reported to be two to three times the strength of P. cubensis. But there seems to be a lack of data to support these claims about the potency.
Erowid reports that these mushrooms have a combined psilocybin and psilocin content of between 0.5 to 2.95 percent dry weight. Stivje in 1992 identified they were variable in their potency 0.17 to 0.95 percent psilocin and 0.16 to 0.19 percent psilocybin!
They are colloquially known as “blue meanie mushrooms”, a term that originated in Australia. But have also been known as Copelandia cyanescens, leading to common names such as “Copelandia Hawaiian”. They can be cultivated indoors, and it is possible to purchase grow kits. These magic mushrooms are found all over the world as a dung-loving species, in the same habitats as Psilocybe cubensis.
2. Psilocybe Azurescens (Flying Saucers)
Psilocybe azurescens (Flying Saucer mushrooms) is very closely related to P. subaeruginosa, known to contain up to 1.78 percent psilocybin, 0.38 percent psilocin, and 0.4 percent baeocystin (Stamets and Gartz, 1995).
In North America, the species is limited to the Oceanic Climate of the Pacific Northwest of North America. And usually found in coastal grass, and deciduous woodlands from British Colombia through to Oregon. This species has also been found in Europe.
As with P. subaeruginosa, “Flying saucers” have a caramel-colored cap fading to yellow as its hygrophanous cap dries out. They have a fibrous white stem which can vary in length and thickness, purple-black spore print, and all parts of the mushroom bruise blue. Care should be taken not to confuse them with Galerina or Cortinarius. Galerina can be deadly, containing amatoxins, the same deadly compound found in Amanita phalloides aka the “Death Cap”.
1. Psilocybe Subaeruginosa (P. subs)
Psilocybe subaeruginosa is an Australian species of magic mushrooms. They grow on various types of hardwood, and are known to be very potent, with up to 1.93 percent psilocybin and 0.17 percent psilocin.
The Psilocybe subaeruginosa is incredibly variable in appearance, has a caramel-colored cap fading to yellow as its hygrophanous cap dries out, often with remnants of the partial veil on the margin of the cap when younger. They have a fibrous white stem which can vary in length and thickness, purple-black spore print, and all parts of the mushroom bruise blue.
P. subaeruginosa is often found amongst Eucalypt debris, on the edges of forests, and on paths through bushland or parks. P. subaeruginosa can vary in size, shape, and cap color, and care should be taken not to confuse them with Galerina or Cortinarius. Galerina can be deadly, containing amatoxins, the same deadly compound found in Amanita phalloides, aka the “Death Cap”.
A Bonus Mushroom: Psilocybe Weilii
P. weilii is found only in northern Georgia in the United States. The species grows on red clay soils and is often found near pines growing in Bermuda grass or fescue. It is known to occur in the deep woods in areas where decaying wood collects, but also in urban lawns.
The species has been reported as having 0.61 percent psilocybin, 0.27 percent psilocin, and 0.05 percent baeocystin. It is named after the famous integrative medicine physician Andrew Weil.
Some species of magic mushrooms haven’t been mentioned, but are known to be potent.
Little is known about this very unusual, secotioid psilocybe from New Zealand. Secotioid means that the cap doesn’t open. It has a truffle-like habit with a stem, the closed cap containing gills — but has lost the ability for balistospory so is dependent on insects and animals to spread the spores.
Anecdotally it is known to be as strong as P. subaeruginosa and P. azurescens, which makes sense given they are all very closely related, especially the former.
Psilocybe hoogshagenii “Los niños” or “Los Chamaquitos” (“the little boys”), “Pajaritos de monte” (“little birds of the woods”), “Cihuatsinsintle” or “Teotlaquilnanácatl” (“divine mushroom that describes or paints”) is a species that occurs in Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil. It grows singly or in small groups in clay soils.
The mushroom has a brownish conical or bell-shaped cap with a distinctively extended papilla, and slender stem. The species is reported to contain 0.60 percent psilocybin, and 0.10 percent psilocin (Heim and Hofmann 1958).
P. hoogshagenii was first described scientifically by the French mycologist Roger Heim in 1958 as one of the species described and illustrated in the famous Life magazine article “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” by R. Gordon Wasson.
The species was named in honor of American anthropologist Searle Hoogshagen. He helped Heim and Wasson in their search for entheogenic mushrooms in Mexico.
Psilocybe stuntzii (“Stuntz’s blue legs”, “Blue ringer”) grow throughout the western region of the Pacific Northwest. They occur scattered individually or in groups, rarely solitary. And growing from conifer wood chips and bark mulch, or soils rich in woody debris. Psilocybe Stuntzii are also known to grow in new lawns of freshly laid sod or any newly mulched garden.
They are reported as containing 0.36 percent psilocybin, 0.12 percent psilocin, and 0.02 percent baeocystin (Beug and Bigwood, 1982; Repke et al., 1977).
Why a separate list? The reported potencies in the species listed above are from species collected in their natural habitat. Psilocybin-containing mushrooms produce psilocybin based on the availability of nutrients in their substrate.
Particularly with the wood-loving species, it has been noted that potency can vary depending on the substrate. With mushrooms growing from mushrooms grown in woodchip beds known to be much stronger than those growing in more natural environments.
The following results come from the 2021 Oakland Hyphae Psilocybin Cup. And given these are from P. cubensis, it would be expected that other species would also be more potent under cultivation, especially the wood loving species
Psilocybe Cubensis (Tidal Wave 2 or Enigma)
Psilocybe cubensis var. “Tidal Wave 2” or “Enigma”. In the 2021 Oakland Hyphae Psilocybin Cup, this strain was reported as having an astounding 3.82% total alkaloid, with 2.26% Psilocybin and 1.56% Psilocin.
The “Tidal Wave” strain was created by Doma, founder of Magic Myco, who crossed B+ and Penis Envy strains. “Tidal Wave” is reported to be a “fast and easy fruiting cubensis that resists contamination”.
Cultivated Psilocybe Cubensis (Fuzzy Balls)
In the 2021 Oakland Hyphae Psilocybin Cup, this strain was reported as having 3.00% total alkaloid, with 1.67% Psilocybin and 1.32% Psilocin. But little is known of the origin of the strain.
Psilocybe Cubensis (Penis Envy)
Psilocybe cubensis var. “Penis Envy” and variants. “PE” has been around for a while, and it certainly has a reputation for being strong. It has a long history, supposedly originating from Terrance McKenna from spores collected in the Amazon.
In the 2021 Oakland Hyphae Psilocybin Cup, the strain was reported as having 2.90% total alkaloid, with 1.65% Psilocybin and 1.26% Psilocin.
Challenges Associated With The Most Potent Magic Mushrooms
It is important to keep in mind that dosing with psilocybin mushrooms can be a challenge — particularly with foraged species.
Some populations may exhibit lower potency while others may have much higher than expected. This is especially true with the wood-loving species from section cyanescens (or is that section subaeruginosae!). Which can all exhibit high potency — this is confusing given the low ranking of Psilocybe cyanescens in our list.
High dose, potent magic mushrooms experiences can be very profound and result in experiences akin to spiritual emergency. It is also worth noting that psilocybin affects people differently, some may be sensitive while others much less so.
Potency can vary between individually foraged mushrooms. So it is recommended that you powder your mushrooms to make the dosage consistent across what you have. It is advised before consuming, both for micro and macro dosing, to set aside a day or half a day to take a taster dose. Just in case it is stronger than expected.
A 0.1 gram dose of Psilocybe subaeruginosa is still enough for a macro dose. While a recommended microdose of Psilocybe cubensis golden teacher is 0.2 grams.