Psilocybe mexicana (psilocybe mexicana)

Psilocybe mexicana (psilocybe mexicana)

Psilocybe mexicana is a species of psilocybin mushroom with a fascinating cultural history. Its first known usage was by the indigenous peoples of North and Central America over 2,000 years ago. The Aztecs used it as a religious sacrament and called it teotlnanácatl, which is made up of the Nahuatl words teotl (“god”) and nanácatl (“flesh”). So teotlnanácatl means “flesh of the gods”.

BENIN - CIRCA 1996: A stamp printed in Benin shows the Teonanacatl psychedelic mushroom, Psilocybe mexicana, circa 1996.
Image via Shutterstock/YANGCHAO

Valentina Pavlovna Wasson and her husband Roger Gordon Wasson collected Psilocybe mexicana during a two-year journey around Mexico (1953-1955), which included a visit to Maria Sabina, the well-known Mazatec curandera credited with introducing psilocybin mushrooms to the world. (R. Gordon Wasson detailed his experience participating in a magic mushroom ceremony led by Sabina in a 1957 photo essay for Life magazine.)

The French botanist Roger Heim, who was sent samples of the mushroom by the Wassons, categorized the species in 1957. Then, in 1958, Albert Hofmann (the Swiss chemist who first syntheized LSD) isolated psilocybin and smaller amounts of psilocin from Psilocybe mexicana. And it was he who gave these psychedelic compounds the names psilocybin and psilocin.

Unsure about whether artificially grown mushrooms would retain their psychoactive properties, Hofmann consumed 32 specimens of Psilocybe mexicana. He recounted the experience in the book The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens (1973), co-authored with the ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. Here are some descriptions from that account:

“As I was perfectly aware that my knowledge of the Mexican origin of the mushrooms would lead me to imagine only Mexican scenery, I tried deliberately to look on my environment as I knew it normally. But all voluntary efforts to look at things in their customary forms and colours proved ineffective. Whether my eyes were closed or open, I saw only Mexican motifs and colours. When the doctor supervising the experiment bent over me to check my blood pressure, he was transformed into an Aztec priest…At the peak of the intoxication…the rush of interior pictures, mostly changing in shape and colour, reached such an alarming degree that I feared I would be torn into this whirlpool of form and colour and would dissolve.”

In this guide, we’ll be exploring the many different aspects of this mushroom, including:

  • How to identify Psilocybe mexicana and its lookalikes
  • How to grow Psilocybe mexicana
  • Potency
  • Dosage
  • Effects

Of course, 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 blue meanie mushrooms, you need to be aware of the legal risks involved.

RELATED: 10 Most Potent Magic Mushrooms

Identifying Psilocybe Mexicana And Its Lookalikes

The first thing to note is that Psilocybe mexicana grows in the wild. So if you want to go out and pick them in nature (instead of buying them from someone), then you need to know what they look like. We will explain how you can identify them, as well as point out Psilocybe mexicana lookalikes you should be aware of. (This species also produces sclerotia, although they can be hard to identify specifically as Psilocybe mexicana.)

Where Does Psilocybe Mexicana Grow?

If you want to successfully find Psilocybe mexicana in nature, then you need to know where it grows. This means being aware of both the type of habitat and the countries they grow in.

Habitat

Psilocybe Mexicana mushrooms growing out of knot of tree, tall tree with gnarly bark, mushrooms growing on bark
Image via Shutterstock

Psilocybe mexicana grows alone or in small groups among moss along roadsides and trails, in humid meadows or cornfields, and in particular, in the grassy areas bordering deciduous forests. It is common at elevations between 300-505 meters, and rare in lower elevations.

Distribution

Psilocybe mexicana is known to only occur naturally in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. This is why the mushroom has a rich history of cultural use in Mexico, for instance, but not elsewhere in the world.

How To Identify Psilocybe Mexicana

The Mexican magic mushroom is a psilocybe cubensis, a specie of psychedelic mushroom whose main active elements are psilocybin and psilocin - Mexican Psilocybe Cubensis. An adult mushroom raining spor
Image via Shutterstock

You’ll be able to identify Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms by knowing their distinctive features:

  • Cap (pileus): 0.5-3 cm in diameter, convex or cone-shaped, with margins that flare out to resemble a bell (campanulate). The caps often have a slight papilla (a nipple-shaped structure, which liberty caps also have). The caps are hygrophanous (they change color based on the loss or absorption of water), ocherous to brown or beige to straw color as they age, sometimes with blueish or greenish, and they easily turn blue when injured.
  • Gills (lamellae): Adnate or adnexed, gray to purple-brown with whitish edges.
  • Stem (stipe): 4-10 cm tall and thin, equal, and hollow. It is straw color to brownish or reddish-brown, becoming darker where injured. An annulus (the ring-like structure found on the stipe) is absent.
  • Odor and Taste: Farinaceous (“flour-like”).

Psilocybe Mexicana Lookalikes

Psilocybe mexicana can look similar to other species from the genus of Psilocybe, such as Psilocybe azurescens and Psilocybe semlianceata (liberty caps). However, it’s easy to tell them apart based on the country you’re in. Neither of these other lookalikes grows naturally in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

Yet there are other Psilocybe species that do occur in these countries, such as Psilocybe cubensis, which, like Psilocybe mexicana, also likes to grow in manure deposits in grasslands. Some features that make Psilocybe cubensis distinct, however, include a flattish cap, a well-developed, persistent ring (annulus), and an earthy taste.

If you want to try to find mushrooms in the wild, it’s best to head out with a more experienced guide, rather than relying on just photos or descriptions. You can look online for local mycology groups in the area to see if there are any mushroom hunts that you can join.

Nonetheless, you should be aware that these groups may not have a strong interest in psychedelic mushrooms like you do, so get a sense first of how the group feels about foraging for them.

Psilocybe Mexicana Sclerotia

Psilocybe mexicana is in the group of psilocybin mushrooms (which also include Psilocybe tampanensis) that are known to produce sclerotia. These are hardened, dense masses of mycelium that allow the organism to survive in unfavorable conditions (nutrient depletion, drought, freezing, etc.).

The sclerotia of these species are also called truffles, although this is a biological misnomer. From a mycological point of view, truffles — unlike sclerotia — are reproductive structures. They are subterranean spore containers that spread their genetic material through consumption by animals and subsequent excretion into different locations.

True truffle-producing species are usually ectomycorrhizal, which means their existence depends on a symbiotic relationship with a host tree species. Though found close to various tree species, Psilocybe mexicana’s preferred habitat is, as we have seen, manure-rich grassland. This is why Paul Stamets has named these mushrooms the “Mexican liberty cap”, as the other liberty cap (Psilocybe semilanceata) also has an affinity for such environments.

Psilocybe mexicana produces sclerotia that can range in size from smaller than a pea to as large as an ostrich egg. They are rarely uniform in shape. The color of sclerotia seems to depend on growing conditions, ranging range from light yellow to dark brown, and they may be blue in places.

Due to their irregular shape, size, and color, it is rarely possible to identify Psilocybe mexicana based on the appearance of the sclerotia (to successfully do this, you need to look at the mushrooms themselves).

How To Grow Psilocybe Mexicana

young Mexican psilocybin mushrooms on the background of white mycelium. horyorizontal orientation.
Image via Shutterstock

Growing magic mushrooms like Psilocybe mexicana is illegal in most countries because they contain the controlled substance psilocybin. However, it is legal to buy Psilocybe mexicana 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. Nevertheless, 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 get Psilocybe mexicana 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.

Roger Heim and his colleagues, in the late 1950s, studied the cultivation of Psilocybe mexicana, Psilocybe cubensis, and Psilocybe caerulescens. Their experiments revealed that Psilocybe cubensis outperformed other species due to its fast colonization and ability to easily produce large mushrooms. This is why it continues to be a favorite choice among growers today.

In contrast, growing Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms requires a bit more care.

In terms of growing Psilocybe mexicana at home, most cultivators tend to grow the sclerotia. To grow the sclerotia of Psilocybe mexicana, you need dark, nutrient-rich conditions (whereas mushroom production is favored when cultures are exposed to daylight in growth media that are less nutrient-rich).

Growing Psilocybe mexicana sclerotia in lolium (rye grass) seeds works well. The sclerotia will appear after 3-12 weeks. If these cultures are exposed to daylight and less nutrient-rich growth media, adult mushrooms will grow instead within a week or two.

The little scientifically documented work on cultivation from the late 1950s suggests that fermented, washed, and sterilized straw could be used to grow both mushrooms and sclerotia, with a layer of sterile sand added to jars to improve drainage. Since that time, growers have had success using a mix of coir and vermiculite, sometimes adding manure or straw, which has been applied to growing Psilocybe cubensis as well.

It’s worth underscoring that Heim’s initial cultivation studies on Psilocybe mexicana cultures found considerable variation in their ability to produce mushrooms. Some cultures produced hardly any mushrooms at all. This was because he used cultures taken from different wild locations.

For this reason, if you want to successfully cultivate the mushrooms rather than the sclerotia, then you should consider gathering spores from multiple sources or vendors.

Potency

In the Netherlands, sclerotia (including those of Psilocybe mexicana) are legal, despite the fact that psilocybin-containing mushrooms (including Psilocybe mexicana) have been illegal since 2008. When the Dutch government enacted this ban, sclerotia were excluded on the basis that they were considered less potent than mushrooms. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Sclerotia, in general, contain less water than mushrooms; they contain around 75 percent compared to around 90 percent. On a fresh weight basis, sclerotia may be more potent than many common psychedelic mushroom species, although this relationship switches once both the mushrooms and sclerotia have been dried.

Direct measurements of potency for Psilocybe mexicana sclerotia are lacking. But, per reports, the mushrooms themselves contain a maximum of 0.25 percent psilocybin and 0.25 percent psilocin. Heim and Hofmann reported 0.25 percent psilocybin and 0.15 percent psilocin in the samples they analyzed.

Jochen Gartz, in his book Magic Mushrooms Around the World (1996), states that Psilocybe mexicana has psilocybin concentrations comparable to those found in Inocybe aeruginascens. Based on five different dried samples of the latter, the psilocybin content ranged from 0.11 percent to 0.38 percent.

Based on the maximum concentrations of psilocybin and psilocin, Psilocybe mexicana appears to be less potent than the more commonly grown Psilocybe cubensis, which is itself a medium-strength mushroom. Specimens of the latter are reported to contain a maximum of 1.3 percent psilocybin and 0.35 percent psilocin.

Nonetheless, some who have tried both have said that Psilocybe mexicana has a similar or even greater potency than Psilocybe cubensis. Anecdotally, Psilocybe mexicana sclerotia are often as potent as Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms.

This confusion can often be explained by the fact that magic mushrooms in general vary widely in potency depending on how they’re grown. So making comparisons between species is difficult.

Moreover, few scientific studies exist on potency and trip reports can be difficult to interpret. This uncertainty is compounded by the fact that there are fewer trip reports for Psilocybe mexicana than for other magic mushroom species.

Dosage

Because Psilocybe mexicana may be less potent than many other species, you will need to take a higher dosage compared to more 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 maximum psilocybin and psilocin content of Psilocybe mexicana, it is generally recommended to take the same or slightly higher dosage than 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 Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms are a good rule of thumb:

  • Threshold: 0.30 g
  • Light: 0.30-1.25 g
  • Common: 1.25-2.75 g
  • Strong: 2.75-5 g
  • Heavy: 5+ g

Psilocybe Mexicana Effects

When you consume Psilocybe mexicana 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:

Low Dose Psilocybe Mexicana Effects (0.30-1.25 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

Medium Dose Psilocybe Mexicana Effects (1.25-2.75 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

High Dose Psilocybe Mexicana Effects (2.75-5 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 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 Psilocybe Mexicana Can Induce Mystical Effects

If taking a strong dose of magic mushrooms, 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

Duration Of Psilocybe Mexicana Effects

A Psilocybe mexicana 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. However, not everyone may experience this effect.

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 experiences, so you’ll have enough time to digest what’s 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.

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