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.
** SporesWorldwide does not endorse, or participate in, the cultivation of any species of “active” mushroom which, when cultivated, contains or may contain psilocybin and/or psilocin. Any mention of cultivation or requests for cultivation will result in you being banned[RJ2] .