Ever wonder what mushroom spores are? Embark on a journey into the captivating realm of mushroom spores and their pivotal role in the reproduction and cultivation of these remarkable organisms. Comparable to pollen in flowers, mushroom spores are the lifeblood of mushroom species, enabling them to reproduce and propagate. By delving into the inner workings of spores and understanding their growth process, we unveil the secrets behind these tiny yet mighty agents of life.
Understanding Mushroom Spores
Mushroom spores are single-cell organisms housing the complete genetic material required for the spread of mushroom species. They are primarily found within the pores, teeth, or grooves on the underside of the mushroom cap.
Spore Production and Reproduction
Mushroom spores are not continuously produced by mushrooms but depend on favorable conditions such as ample resources of food, water, and light to energize the reproductive process. Once ready, spores are released from the mushroom cap and can be easily transported by animals or wind to new locations.
Anatomy of a Mushroom
Unravel the intricate components of a mushroom. The mycelium, akin to roots, thrives underground, generating new fruiting bodies. Hyphae, branching structures resembling roots, grow closer to the stem and the volva—a protective membrane at the base of the mushroom.
The fruiting body encompasses the cap and gills, serving as the hub for spore production. Mushroom caps can assume various shapes—flat, round, or conical—while gills exhibit a range of colors and shapes.
The Significance of Mushroom Spores in Nature
Mushroom spores are pivotal in the reproductive process of fungi. They act as the initial stage in the life cycle, allowing fungi to colonize new territories and disseminate their offspring. Spores land on suitable surfaces, germinating and developing into mycelium, the primary feeding structure of mushrooms.
Mushrooms thrive on decaying organic matter, such as tree bark, dead leaves, and even manure. Spores travel through air currents until they settle on a compatible substrate, initiating germination and maturation into mature mushrooms.
Harvesting and Identifying Mushroom Spores
Tap into the power of mushroom spores as a tool for identification. By placing mushroom caps on a white sheet of paper, covered with a bowl for 24 hours, the spores’ color, shape, and other characteristics can be observed to determine the mushroom’s type. Analyzing the gills also aids in accurate identification.
Explore the process of making a spore print to harvest spores. Carefully removing the mushroom stem, placing the cap with the ribbed side down on paper, and covering it with a glass jar allows the spores to drop onto the paper. Using tweezers, collect the spores and store them in a sealed plastic bag in a cool, dark place for long-term preservation.
It is important to note that mushroom spores themselves are not dangerous. They are not drugs or fungi but serve as the fungal equivalent of seeds. Their potential danger lies in mistaking them for something else, such as a drug or a toxic fungus, and consuming them with false assumptions.
In conclusion, mushroom spores are the unsung heroes of the fungal world, playing a vital role in the reproduction and propagation of mushroom species. These tiny, yet potent, reproductive cells carry the genetic information necessary for the growth of new mycelium and the emergence of new mushrooms. By understanding the mechanisms of spore production, harvesting techniques, and their significance in nature, we gain a deeper appreciation for the magic that mushroom spores bring to our world. Whether you’re a mushroom enthusiast or simply intrigued by the wonders of nature, exploring the fascinating realm of mushroom spores opens a door to a captivating and awe-inspiring universe. So, let’s embrace the mysteries of mushroom spores and continue to uncover the astonishing secrets they hold.
The Blue Meanie mushroom, scientifically known as Panaeolus cyanescens (or Pans or Pan cyans for short) and Copelandia cyanescens (also called “Copes”), carries a formidable punch despite its small stature. These mushrooms, commonly referred to as Hawaiians, are renowned for their potency, surpassing other psychoactive mushrooms in the Psilocybe family*. With a name that pays homage to the adversaries in The Beatles’ psychedelic animated film, Yellow Submarine, the Blue Meanie mushrooms live up to their moniker in more ways than one. They possess an intimidating reputation for their intense effects when consumed, and their distinctive blue coloration when bruised, attributed to high levels of psilocybin and psilocin. But why do Blue Meanies turn blue, and what causes mushrooms to exhibit this phenomenon when handled or picked?
For quite some time, it has been observed that mushrooms containing psilocybin develop a characteristic blue hue on their stalks and caps when subjected to cutting or bruising. This knowledge is widespread, evident even in the scientific names of certain species such as Panaeolus cyanescens and Psilocybe azurescens. While the bluing trait is a crucial characteristic for identifying many psychotropic mushrooms, it is necessary but not sufficient. Other mushroom species, like Boletales, may also bruise blue but can be occasionally poisonous, and Lactarius indigo exudes a vivid blue latex (even when unbruised) in addition to its blue appearance. However, these different shades of blue differ from those found in psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
The blue coloration of Lactarius mushrooms is attributed to a derivative of guaiazulene, while Boletus mushrooms owe their blueness to pulvinic acid or other compounds. Recent research conducted in 2019 has shed light on the long-standing mystery of psilocybin mushrooms’ bluing process.
According to this research, the bluing process involves two enzymes known as PsiP and PsiL. When a psilocybin-containing mushroom sustains damage, PsiP acts upon the psilocybin, leading to the release of psilocin. Psilocin is the compound responsible for the hallucinogenic properties of psilocybin mushrooms when metabolized by humans. PsiL then acts on the released psilocin, causing it to form larger groups, some of which exhibit a blue color.
So, what does this mean for the Blue Meanie mushroom? The intensity of its blueness reflects the previous psilocybin content of the mushroom. Since the blue pigments, consisting of groups of psilocin, are a byproduct of broken-down psilocybin, a highly bruised specimen may have had a significant psilocybin content before being damaged. However, the extent of blue bruising on a mushroom is proportional to the amount of oxidized psilocybin, suggesting a potential reduction in potency.
Although the Blue Meanie mushroom may not be the most psychoactive, it certainly captivates with its stunning appearance. This mushroom serves as an intriguing example of the fascinating characteristics found in so-called “active” mushroom species. Research into these aspects of psilocybin mushrooms has been limited due to the legal restrictions on cultivating such specimens**. Fortunately, recent developments have shed more light on the Blue Meanie mushroom and its fungal counterparts, allowing us to delve deeper into their complexity. It’s a delightful discovery in the vast expanse of the universe, but be careful not to disturb it too much.
* Note: the Blue Meanie mushroom discussed in this article, Panaeolus cyanescens, is one of two mushroom species known by the Blue Meanie nickname: the strain of Psilocybe cubensis which is known as Blue Meanie is largely not distinguished from the Pan cyan, and a lack of information exists on the subject. We can only hope for the research of these fascinating organisms to continue as their complexity is further explored.
Those who find themselves drawn to the intrigue and mystique of mushrooms, specifically those belonging to the Psilocybe genus, have undoubtedly heard of the Golden Teacher mushroom. Arguably the most popular and widely known of the Psilocybin variants, Golden Teacher mushrooms have gained widespread appeal as the most welcoming of this nook of the mushroom kingdom. With user reports describing experiences that range from soft and inviting to revelatory and awakening, Golden Teacher mushroom spores earn their namesake well. These mushrooms are part of a class of organisms that have been recognized by multiple cultures as “agents of change” – organisms which, on contact with a human mind, provoke experiences which many regard as providing lessons, prompting changes of perspective and belief, and uprooting old and worn-out convictions and prejudices. With its golden-brown, yellow-speckled cap donned, the Golden Teacher shows its students their own mind, and the world around them, in a new light.
How did we come across these peculiar little beings? “How did humans discover magic mushrooms?” — this is perhaps the more important question in general. It may be a familiar notion to some entheogenic enthusiasts that the origins of such Golden Teachers began long ago in certain Central and South American cultures, but the specifics may be hazy. Let’s take a look, shall we?
At Tassili n’Ajjer, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Algeria, thousands of cave paintings, some dating from 10,000 B.C., depict our human heritage in the form of our earliest activities: of hunting, domesticating animals, and other aspects of daily life. However, of special interest here are the paintings depicting magic and religious rituals – one of which depicts a shaman, with the face of a bee, and fists of mushroom silhouettes, and surrounded by mushrooms sprouting from their skin.
The most widely acknowledged candidate for the mushrooms adorning this ancient ancestor? Psilocybe. That’s right: the Golden Teacher mushroom we all know today is one in a long line of messengers stretching back to our earliest human experiences, being a representative of Psilocybe cubensis. The tradition of viewing fungi as teachers, guides to accompany shamans in communication with the spirit world, is one which stretches across both time and geography, as suggested by archeological evidence such as this cave painting and others like it, historical texts, sculptures, and even evidence in surviving languages of ancient cultures. In the Mazatec language, they are known as nti si tho, the Ones Who Leap Forth, in Nahua, as Teonanacatl, the Flesh of the Gods. The “legendary food of the gods,” the “healer of disease” known as Soma in ancient Hindu Vedic texts, has been identified by scholars as likely referring to the Amanita muscaria (though not a Psilocybe species, Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric, has also been widely used in Siberia and other parts of the northern Eurasian continent as a part of shamanic rituals).
Perhaps the discussion of the effects of Golden Teacher mushrooms, the effects of their relatives, and the reason for a name such as “Golden Teacher,” is best summed up by the words of the legendary Mazatec shaman, Maria Sabina:
“There is a world beyond ours, a world that is far away, nearby, and invisible. And there is where God lives, where the dead live, the spirits and the saints, a world where everything has already happened and everything is known. I report what it says. The sacred mushroom takes me by the hand and brings me to the world where everything is known. It is they, the sacred mushrooms that speak in a way I can understand. I ask them and they answer me. When I return from the trip that I have taken with them, I tell what they have told me and what they have shown me.”
(Quote from U.S. Forest Service website, “The Mighty Fungi”)
The short answer — In most places all mushroom spores (including psilocybin mushroom spores) are legal! The reason? Mainly because they contain no psilocybin or psilocyn, but many other reasons discussed in this article also support their legality.
For a more detailed answer as to why this area of spores seems so grey (and why so many people ask if it is illegal to buy mushroom spores or if we can legally buy mushroom spores), continue reading.
The world of mycology becomes ever more prevalent internationally via discoveries about many species of fungi that could help heal us as all the way from an individual level to the planetary level. With these discoveries, naturally people are becoming more interested in how mushrooms work and what they do. Medicinal mushrooms can help heal our bodies by causing unique biological reactions (like how a unique chemical in Turkey Tail mushrooms has anticancer properties), but Psilocybin Mushrooms (otherwise known as Magic Mushrooms) not only work on the individuals biology but also on their mind (ex. Effect of psilocybin on treatment resistant depression ).
As many people struggle in the world today, answers to problems on an individual level can be the start of a whole new life. Finding these answers are not an easy task to say the least, but as technology and information becomes more available people are beginning to find ways that can solve mental issues that many people suffer from and have suffered from for hundreds likely thousands of years (ex. Depression, Substance Use Disorder, many more).
Just like any “drug” psilocybin and psilocyn must and should go through vigorous testing and have many studies conducted on their properties and effects. The mind-altering effects should be used in a controlled setting or under proper prescription. The spores of the mushrooms that contain Psilocybin on the other hand most certainly should also be studied in order to understand the organism more entirely.
**Let us be clear, the legal information in this article is all hypothetical and should in no way be used in an official setting without consulting a real legal advisor. **
As was mentioned at the top of the article, most places allow for the import and possession of spores (some exceptions for example are California, Idaho, and Georgia). The same lack of information regarding spores specifically comes up in the USA and many other countries after doing a bit of a search on google. The illegal substances are psilocybin and psilocyn, as they are the mind-altering substance. So, studying the spores (which contain no psilocybin or psilocyn) in a microscopic setting, or even before a certain stage in growth would very likely but also This erowid article briefly discusses California’s laws on spores. In Canada as well as the USA, the legal status of psilocybin mushroom spores is quite ambiguous. Nothing on the Canadian governments website seems to mention spores specifically , and Wikipedia states “Mushroom spore kits are legal and are sold openly in stores or on the internet as the spores and kits themselves are legal. Psilocybin and psilocin are illegal to possess, obtain or produce without a prescription or license as they are schedule III under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.” slightly potentially be seen as legal.
In an imaginary legal situation, the legal area of spores is so grey and ambiguous currently that by simply studying them the chances of any legal complications arising as a result of possession or sale is quite unlikely. As stated previously, these substances have been proven worthy of research due to their potential positive effects. So even if something were to somehow arise, there would likely be 2 possible outcomes for the most part.
The defendant has been selling spores *for microscopy purposes only*, and the prosecution claims spores are used to grow illegal mushrooms containing psilocybin or psilocyn.
In this situation, the prosecution would for the most part be wasting their time with the defendant, as spores contain no psilocybin or psilocyn and these substances can only be obtained under special and specific circumstances (Gross, 2000). In the worst-case scenario, one may have to hire a lawyer for a case that will very likely get put on hold for quite some time. Due to likelihood of magic mushrooms becoming legal or decriminalized in some way or other, a case like this is very weak for the prosecution as the legal areas are extremely ambiguous.
The defendant has been selling spores negligently and potentially for illegal purposes.
In this situation, the result depends on the degree of negligence. If the defendant is directly selling spores for the purpose of cultivation, they will most likely get in significant amounts of trouble. On the other end of the spectrum if the defendant sells spores for microscopy purposes but provides a grow guide with the spores the case will once again become more ambiguous. On the lighter end of the spectrum, most of those cases seem likely to be put on hold due to new research on psilocybin and psilocyn. Under all circumstances in situation (B) lawyer fees would be a considerable factor.
For the rest of the article, we have extracted information from a study done by Susan T. Gross that explains at which point in the mushroom life cycle psilocybin becomes present in the mushroom mycelium and fruiting bodies. This information highlights the stages at which we can potentially study these mushrooms in a legal manner.
There are 4 stages of the mushroom life cycle. The spores start everything off, then the mycelium begins to form, after that the primordia/pre-fruit form, and then finally come the fruiting bodies we know as mushrooms.
Germination of the spores can only take place in a suitable environment.
As the spores seek nutrients, they grow outward in a branching cobweb like manner (similar to how dendrites branch out, and also similar to how tree branches grow! See picture). This cobweb like branching system is the mycelium. This network of mycelium collects nutrients that will eventually lead to the primordia, and then the fruiting bodies.
Primordia are also known as “knots” or “pin-heads” and this is the starting stage of fruiting body growth. Once the primordia are fully grown, they become fruiting bodies that can disperse spores which then resets the life cycle as the mushrooms begin to decay.
In the study by Susan Gross spore solutions were tested and “No psilocyn or psilocybin were detected in any of the spore solutions.”. Of 29 mycelium samples tested before the primordia began to form “No psilocyn or psilocybin was detected in any of these 29 samples”. Once the primordia began to form “Of the 22 mycelium knot samples, 17 were consistent with psilocyn.”. It was determined that the mycelium knot stage of the mushroom was the earliest stage at which the psychoactive drugs could be detected. It was observed that light affected the time of development and the appearance of these mushrooms, among other specific circumstances which mycelium and later fruiting bodies require to form.
In conclusion, psilocybin mushroom spores are not illegal to buy in most places. The study of spores in a microscopic setting can help us expand our knowledge of spores and these mushrooms as a whole. Abiding by the law is very important as we are still just beginning to understand these substances and organisms, and the laws surrounding these substances are very ambiguous (but also somewhat flexible!) which is why its important to be cautions and do your research! Cultivating these substances is a very dangerous idea and we recommend you never do this unless you are doing it legally (ex. certain governments provide licenses to grow psilocybin for research purposes). Studying spores for microscopy purposes is a great way to learn about psilocybin mushrooms and fungi in general. If one is interested in having a psychedelic experience, they should do the proper research and talk to a doctor or see online about studies near you that can offer you legal psilocybin in a controlled setting.
What makes the Penis Envy mushroom strain so unique?
If you’ve ever looked into the strength differences between each Psilocybin containing mushroom strain/variety, you would have likely come across some mention of Penis Envy mushrooms. On reddit for example, most users on mushroom and related subreddits have the common knowledge that the Penis Envy mushroom strain is generally penis shaped and produces stronger effects then the average Cubensis mushroom. Even well vetted Shroomery user RogerRabbit stated that “Cubes are cubes, with the exception of PE.” Why though? And where did the original Penis Envy mushroom come from? What makes it so different then the others? While the history of P.E. is quite mysterious and not entirely full, we are going to touch on some interesting points that may give the reader a better idea of all the hype around this particular variety of P. Cubensis.
At one point mycologist John Allen proposed that that the original Penis Envy mushroom may have been found in the Amazon by Terrence and Dennis McKenna in the early 70’s. Hamilton Morris, a journalist who investigates psychoactive substances, also stated that the original specimen “was taller and thicker than anything found in American soils.” and “A monstrous Amazonian mushroom growing on the dung of local Zebu cattle”. These statements were never confirmed to be entirely true by the McKenna brothers in terms of finding a penis shaped mushroom. Terrence often talked about masculine energies of the mushroom; you would think that he would remember a penis shaped one. The brothers did have many mushroom hunting expeditions (including a handful in the Amazon); so it seems much more likely that this fabled Amazonian spore sample found by the McKenna brothers is the parent of what we know as Penis Envy (i.e. genetic isolation).
According to Hamilton Morris’ going theory, a pioneering Psilocybe Cubensis Mycologist Steven Pollock was mailed some of the original Amazon prints from the McKennas and likely isolated it himself which later led to the penis shaped mushroom, and Penis Envy mushroom strain. Before his unfortunate death, Pollock supposedly mailed another mycologist and print vendor Rich Gee a spore print labeled ‘Penis’!
Many thought this penis shaped mushroom had been lost after some time, but John Allen eventually found Rich Gee selling spore swabs (a sterile cotton swab wiped along the gills of a mushroom to collect spores) of Penis Envy. Around the same time a user on Shroomery was said to have a print from Terrence McKenna’s personal collection…. This may have been due to some confusion about Rich Gee saying he got the print from the McKennas originally, we really do not know for certain.
At this point its hard to tell where the original Penis Envy spore sample came from, and the name itself has no known origin either.
However, in another twist to the already baffling story of the P.E. mushroom, SporesWorldwide has received a message from Rich Gee regarding the claims of John Allen (“Mushroom John,” or mjshroomer on Shroomery.org). He writes:
The Penis Envy mushrooms began with Jewel Stevens [sic; a nickname for Jule Stevens, perhaps?] who dropped by my house to show me some Amazon mushrooms he had acquired. They supposedly came from Terence McKenna in a roundabout way. There was no bloody letter with spores sent to me by anyone. The mushrooms I saw were dried and looked normal. I cultured the spores and the mushrooms were grown in a hexagon plexiglass fish tank by Jule Stevens. In the tank there were 3 distinct strains, 2 normal and one different enough to attract my attention. This strain did not look like a penis. The strain was cultivated and the mushrooms that grew were long-stemmed with big heads. I picked the biggest one which just happened to be the one that blued the most. The next generations started to look like penises. Again the biggest and bluest one was cloned. For several more generations the biggest and most bluing mushroom was cloned culminating in large penis looking mushrooms. There was never any contact with McKenna and we never met to my knowledge.
One day I collected a bag full of mushrooms from a friend who was growing the Penis Envy so I could photograph them. At the time Jewel Stevens was dating an exotic dancer and when I stopped to visit him there were 6 dancers visiting his girlfriend. They wanted to know what I had in the bag. I said, “You don’t want to know.” They insisted so I pulled a gallon zip lock out of the bag and showed them the mushrooms. I said, “Anyone have Penis Envy!” The dancers said in unison, “They look like donkey dongs!!!” That’s where the name came from.
Mushroom John has told many stories about the Penis Envy but none of it is correct and mostly his imagination.
Incredible! We may finally have an explanation for the origin of the name of the Penis Envy mushroom; and how convenient it is that its naming fits with its Freudian inspiration.
I think that even though the air around the Penis Envy mushroom strain is quite uncertain, we can be certain of a few things. First of all, its pretty darn cool to think that any one of the legends mentioned above had something to do with this heavily sought-after P. Cubensis strain/variety. On top of that, whatever happened to the Penis Envy mushroom genetics along the way for some reason made them a lot stronger than the average Cubensis mushroom, and also made it shaped like a penis. Pretty trippy! Whatever mushroom alchemy went on here, I think its some proper good alchemy at that! This unique variety of Psilocybin Cubensis will surely go down in the mycology history books.
Lastly, we will briefly list the other types of Penis Envy mushrooms that are well known to the public. In later articles these will be discussed in more detail.
For more information on Penis Envy mushroms effects and benefits, see our article here
Albino Penis Envy – Cross of P.E. with Albino (see image below)
Penis Envy Uncut – Another cross of P.E. with Albino
Penis Envy #6 – Texas crossed with P.E.
Albino Penis Envy Revert – A stabilized mutant substrain of Albino Penis Envy (see pictures below)