Your Ultimate Guide to Magic Mushroom Strains
Written by: Eden Aramas
Disclaimer: Psilocybin is still technically illegal in Canada. Please use at your own risk.
Imagine seeing a therapist who does their sessions behind a black curtain. You can hear their voice and benefit from their wisdom, but you have no idea who they are or where they come from. How does this influence your relationship with them and, consequently, the impact of their support?
Like therapists, magic mushrooms can offer incredible healing. But to maximize this healing—or any other benefits, such as enhanced creativity and connection—it’s important to know which of the 180 psilocybin-containing mushroom species you’re building a relationship with.
In this article, we’ll be going over the most popular mushroom strains and how they differ from one another. After reading, you should have an excellent idea of which strain will best serve you on your microdosing or macrodosing journey.
What We Cover
Do the Effects of Mushrooms Vary Among Strains like Cannabis?
Pineapple Express. Sour Diesel. Wedding Cake.
There are over 700 cannabis strains, each of them cleverly named for their specific effects, smell, and taste. In contrast, psychedelic mushroom strains are named for the location in which they were discovered and their phenotype, or shape and color.
Why does this matter? Unlike cannabis, all psychedelic mushroom strains, more or less, cause similar effects.
Cannabis contains a host of different compounds—cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes—that contribute to its psychoactive effect. These compounds can be combined in a staggeringly diverse set of blends to create anything from a mellow, pleasant body high to a surge of stimulant-like energy.
Most magic mushroom strains, in contrast, predictably produce (in high doses) visual distortion, euphoria, and an elevated consciousness. Any variations generally come from differences in your biology, your emotional state, and the setting in which you journey. Keyword: generally.
The reality is, shroom science is not as advanced as cannabis science. On the one hand, we are familiar with the two primary compounds that mushrooms contain: psilocybin and psilocin. On the other hand, mushrooms, like cannabis, contain a host of other compounds, such as baeocystin and norpsilocin. As psychedelic science evolves, it’s entirely possible that we might create unique mushroom experiences.
For now, there are a few key differences in the effects of mushroom strains, which we’ll discuss next.
What are the Most Common Mushroom Strains?
In the wild, at home, and commercially, all psilocybin mushroom cultivation follows the same basic principles.
Mushroom spores (the equivalent of seeds) are inoculated in a substrate, which can be the nutrient-dense soil of the forests in Oregon, a simple rice and vermiculite mixture in a mason jar, or sawdust spawn, which are spores inoculated in hardwood sawdust. Mycelium, the equivalent of roots in trees, grows in the substrate, and when the time is right, mushrooms pop out in a “flush.” Officially, mushrooms are called the fruiting body of the mycelium. Mycelium acts similar to habitats, different species interacting with one another.”
Magic mushroom cultivation used to be the work of amateur mycologists who, like the mushrooms they were foraging, hung out in the shadows of the law.
But as legality and decriminalization sweep the world, more people and companies are trying their hand at cultivating mushrooms. As a result, the criteria that make a strain popular have become how fast it grows, how resistant it is to contamination, and how large the flush is.
Potency, or the concentration of psilocybin and psilocin, is another factor. Because you can optimize their growth environment, mushrooms cultivated indoors tend to have a higher potency than those found in the wild.
With over 180 wild mushroom species on six continents and even more available on online spore banks, you don’t have to be legendary mycologist Paul Stamets to become familiar with them. In this article, we’ve included popular strains that can be found both in the wild and in the homes of amateur mycologists.
Psilocybe cubensis is the most popular species of psilocybin mushrooms. If you’ve tried mushrooms before, there is a high likelihood that it was a cubensis strain, or “cube.”
There are over two dozen cubensis strains. Cubes are a popular choice for beginner growers because of their ability to grow in suboptimal conditions. Unlike other species, these resilient mushrooms will resist small amounts of contamination and will yield large flushes.
P. cubensis mushrooms can be found all over the world. From the southern US all the way down to South America, P. cubensis usually finds its natural home in cattle dung—think manured farmland. They also grow in Australia, Southeast Asia, and India.
Cubensis strains bruise blue, indicating their psilocin content; most share a similar potency. The one notable exception is perhaps the most well-known mushroom strain: Penis Envy.
Named for its phallic resemblance, the Penis Envy mushroom is known as one of the most potent of all cubensis strains.
Terrence McKenna, the infamous psychonaut, collected a batch of cubensis mushrooms in the Amazon during the 1970s. Richard Gee, a mycologist, collected spore prints from McKenna’s collection and through a series of modifications, created Penis Envy. Think of this strain as a mushroom Frankenstein—you will not find it in the wild.
A common characteristic among mushrooms is that they release large amounts of spores, which helps them grow. However, the caps of Penis Envy mushrooms don’t open very wide. This results in a smaller amount of spores, making this strain trickier to cultivate and not recommended for beginner growers.
No matter how you access it, you should always consider the potency of Penis Envy when calculating dosage. This super shroom can be 50 to 100% more potent than the average cube, so take smaller amounts than you usually would.
However, the increased potency does not necessarily translate to a unique psychedelic experience. In fact, all cubensis strains produce more or less the same type of journey. Still, you want to be careful using Penis Envy mushrooms. While a one-gram journey with a regular cube might be great for a stroll in the park or a creative session, a one-gram journey with Penis Envy could be an entirely different story.
Golden Teachers are the Netflix of P. cubensis. Their golden caps and long, skinny stems are the classic profile of a psychedelic mushroom.
Because of their similarity to the naturally occurring P. cubensis in the wild, Golden Teachers are an excellent choice for first-time growers. They resist contamination and flush well.
In 2021, a group of citizen scientists at Oakland Hyphae in California compared around 60 different P. cubensis strains for potency. Golden Teacher mushrooms were rated sixth, behind Penis Envy, Amazonian cubensis, and the most potent strain, Tidalwave.
Amazonian, Costa Rican, and Cambodian Gold Cubensis
Amazonian cubensis mushrooms were cultivated from the lush undergrowth of the Amazon. They have hollow stems, allowing them to grow quickly and to large sizes. According to the results of Oakland Hyphae, Amazonian cubensis is the third most potent P. cubensis strain.
Costa Rican cubensis was collected from the Arenal volcano in Costa Rica. Its potency ranges from low to high depending on its growing conditions, but no official efforts have been made to measure it.
Collected near the temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Cambodian Gold cubensis is an adaptable and large-flushing mushroom, making it a favorite among growers. Like Costa Rican cubensis, we have yet to make a thorough analysis of the potency of this strain.
For most people who form a relationship with psilocybin mushrooms, it will be with some strain of Psilocybe cubensis. If that’s you, you can browse our dried fruit (dried mushroom).
Liberty Caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata)
In Central Europe, where they are mostly found, Liberty Cap mushrooms can be found in large quantities in meadows, pastures, soccer fields, and lawns—anywhere where there is rich soil. They are small, blending in with the grass, and their caps are bell-shaped, hence their name. In 1799, they were formally introduced to the world when a family’s innocent fungi dinner turned… interesting.
If you’d rather pick your mushrooms in the wild than cultivate them indoors, Liberty Caps are the right mushrooms for you. You’ll want to be careful though. P. semilanceata looks similar to the Galerina species and Inocybe geiophylla, two poisonous species that can kill you.
In terms of potency, Liberty Caps are among the strongest psilocybin mushrooms. The average psilocybin content is 1%, which, depending on the source you consult, makes them the fourth or fifth most potent psychedelic mushroom. Wild mushrooms tend to vary widely in their psilocybin content; one report found the psilocybin levels in Liberty Caps to be as little as 0.2% and as high as 2.37%.
Wavy Caps (Psilocybe Cyanescens)
Also known as Blue Halos or Cyan, Wavy Caps are the grooviest-looking mushroom.
Similar to Liberty Caps, they are found in large quantities in the wild. They can be found in the Pacific Northwest of the US all the way up to Alaska, the temperate regions of Europe, and even in New Zealand. Where Liberty Caps enjoy the rich soil, Wavy Caps enjoy wood—mulch, woodchips, and the decomposing woody debris often found on the forest floor.
Defined by their copper-brown, undulating caps, these are also smaller mushrooms that can defy the untrained eye. Despite their size, they still pack a higher psilocybin content than P. cubensis. According to Paul Stamets, P. cyanescens can pack between 0.3% and 1.68% psilocybin and between 0.28% to 0.51% psilocin.
Flying Saucers (Psilocybe Azurescens)
Discovered by Paul Stamets in 1996, Psilocybe azurescens, also known as Azzies or Fly Saucers, is the second strongest mushroom found in the wild. Stamets even stated in the book, How To Change Your Mind, that Flying Saucers are “almost too strong.”
Found exclusively on the West Coast of the US, P. azurescens enjoys sandy soil and loose decaying wood. It has a caramel-colored cap with a white stem, but its most notable feature is its protruding umbo, which refers to the nipple-like structure in the middle of its cap. Compared to other wild mushrooms, P. azurescens can withstand much colder temperatures (16-24° C).
With upwards of 1.75% psilocybin and 0.38% psilocin, Flying Saucers are three to four times stronger than Psilocybe cubensis. Their potency makes them an ideal candidate for microdosing, since not much is needed to exhibit an effect. However, for a macrodose journey, it’s recommended to start as low as one gram.
You want to exhibit extra caution with these mushrooms because they are the one species of mushroom that causes notably different psychedelic effects. The intensity of trips tends to be much more chaotic and otherworldly, and these mushrooms also elicit something called “wood lover paralysis.” In high enough doses, Flying Saucers can paralyze your body, leading to an unpleasant or anxiety-inducing experience if you are not prepared.
Philosopher’s Stone or Magic Truffles (Psilocybe Tampanensis)
Originally found in Florida in the US, Psilocybe tampanensis is most known in the Netherlands, where it is legally available through a judicial loophole. While they carry the name Philosopher’s Stone, this mushroom strain is more commonly referred to as Magic Truffles.
More specifically, Magic Truffles refer to this strain’s sclerotia, which are organs within the mycelium of the mushroom that hold nutrients vital for surviving challenging conditions. Remember: the mycelium is the vast network beneath the ground, and the mushroom that sticks up aboveground is the fruiting body. Truffles are like the middle brother of the two.
Magic Truffles contain varying levels of psilocybin and psilocin within them, averaging around 0.68% psilocybin and 0.32% psilocin. The psychedelic experience this strain produces is marked by a heavier body load, most likely because of the density of the sclerotia.
Teonanacatl or Pajaritos (Psilocybe Mexicana)
Psilocybe mexicana is a mushroom with a rich history. It is believed to have been used as a ceremonial catalyst by the Aztec people—they called it Teonanacatl, or “flesh of the gods.” During the rainy season, Psilocybe mexicana can still be found all around Mexico in wet, damp areas like forests, moss, and rich soil. It very closely resembles a bell, with a hay-colored head and a thin stem.
The flesh of the gods has another famous accolade as the first psychedelic mushroom from which psilocybin and psilocin were extracted. Albert Hoffman, legendary psychedelic scientist and the creator of LSD, received samples in 1958 and introduced the world to what made otherwise normal-looking fungi bridges to another world.
Psilocybe mexicana has been reported to have a moderate-to-low potency, coming in at an average of 0.25% psilocybin and 0.25% psilocin.
Blue Meanies (Copelandia Cyanescens or Panaeolus Cyanescens)
Blue Meanies are the only mushroom species on our list that is not part of the genus Psilocybe, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t share its cousins’ psychedelic powers.
Far away from the colder climates of Psilocybe azurescens, Panaeolus cyanescens is found in wet and warm climates. You’ll find this mushroom in Hawaii, the southern states of the US, the Caribbean, Central America, Thailand, Africa, and Australia. Compared to many of its cousins in the Psilocybe species, Blue Meanies are less colorful and lean grey or off-white.
Because of their color, the blue bruising of their psilocin content is more noticeable, hence their name. Their potency varies, as it does for most mushrooms. One study found the psilocybin content to be from 0.16% to 0.19% and the psilocin content to be from 0.17% to 0.95%.
What are the Strongest Mushroom Strains?
Since indoor cultivation can yield a lot of variability in potency, we’ll list the top five strongest mushroom strains that you can find in the wild:
- P. Subs (Psilocybe Subaeruginosa)
- Flying Saucers (Psilocybe azurescens)
- Blue Meanies (Panaeolus cyanescens)
- Liberty Caps (Psilocybe semilanceata)
- Wavy Caps (Psilocybe cyanescens)
Which Mushroom Strains are Used in Psychedelic Therapy?
In clinical trials, synthetic psilocybin is usually used. Synthetic psilocybin ensures consistent dosing and administration, which is important when you’re doing a scientific study. It’s also faster than growing mushrooms.
However, many would say that a relationship is lost. Direct consumption of the mushroom adds layers and context to the psychedelic experience. You gain a connection to the natural world and a direct line to the consciousness of the mushroom.
This is why Oregon, one of the first places in North America that have created a framework for psychedelic therapy, bans the use of synthetic psilocybin. Furthermore, they require manufacturers to provide only one species of mushroom: Psilocybe cubensis. Two of the most commonly used strains of cubensis are Golden Teacher and a strain called Albino Goodies.
How do I know which Ritual Relief Mushroom Strain is Right for me?
Now that you understand more about the most popular strains of magic mushrooms, do you feel like you could form a deeper relationship with them? Do you see how your journey might be influenced by the intensity of a Flying Saucer, the sacred history of Teonanacatl, or the tropical notes of Blue Meanies?
At Ritual Relief, we offer whole mushrooms in five Psilocybe cubensis strains: Golden Teachers, Penis Envy, Amazonian, Costa Rican, and Cambodian Gold. All of our microdosing chews and tinctures are made with Penis Envy Cubensis extract. Our tea and caps are made with Golden Teacher Cubensis Extract.
No matter which strain you choose to journey with, it’s best to keep a journal to document your experience. The psychedelic experience can be a wild ride, and despite the fact that the acute effects last only 4-6 hours, the “experience” is actually much longer than that—you might find yourself grappling with the significance of your journey for months or years down the line. A journal helps you process and integrate in an organized manner. You can view the Microdosing and Macrodosing Ritual Boxes we have here, which include mushroom products with a journal.
If you’ve never worked with whole mushrooms before, we recommend starting off with chews. For most psychedelic newbies, microdosing is an excellent introduction to mushrooms, because it allows you to ease into a relationship with psilocybin. However, if you’re ready for a macrodose, check out our dried fruit (dried mushroom).
We hope you dig deep, reflect, laugh, and get back to really living.
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