Psilocybe cyanescens

Psilocybe cyanescens DEFAULT

Psilocybe cyanescens — Wavy caps

Bad reactions to 'Psilocybe' can have multiple causes. Individual reactions to hallucinogens vary. Psilocin is a mood enhancer and can enhance pre-existing feelings of relaxation and happiness or increase anxiety in a person who is already anxious. Reassuring an individual and encouraging him or her to sit in a dark, quiet room may help reduce anxiety11. Note that in many parts of the world, possession and sales of mushrooms containing psilocybin is illegal12.

If Galerina mushrooms are mistaken for wavy caps and eaten, serious liver and kidney damage may result. Psilocybe mushrooms are commonly cultured and sold. On the plus side, cultured mushrooms are unlikely to be misidentified and confused with other highly toxic small brown mushrooms. On the minus side, purchased mushrooms have in the past been adulterated with other hallucinogens such as LSD or phencyclidine (PCP)10. Whether adulteration is an ongoing problem is unclear.

Toxins: Psilocybin, which is metabolized to psilocin, a serotonin imitator.

Symptoms: Time of onset, 20–30 min after ingestion, usually lasting 6–8 (15) hours. Symptoms include visual and auditory hallucinations, dilation of pupils, confusion, loss of control of body movements, psychosis, nausea and vomiting. Severe reactions can include elevated levels of methaemoglobin, fever and seizures9. Children (and dogs) may be more likely to experience severe reactions.

Treatment: contact your regional Poison Control Centre if you realize you or someone you know may be having a bad reaction to wavy caps. Poison centres provide free, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If possible, save the mushrooms or some of the leftover food containing the mushrooms to help confirm identification.

Poison Control:
British Columbia: 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911.
United States (WA, OR, ID): 1-800-222-1222.


Psilocybe Cyanescens (Wavy Cap Mushrooms) – All the Info You Need

Psilocybe cyanescens are popularly known as the wavy caps mushroom. It is one of many species of mushrooms known as “magic mushrooms,” due to their psychedelic effects.  Wavy caps mushrooms are noted for their high psilocybin content and potency.

These mushrooms are found in moderate wet climates and are especially common in Northwestern Europe and the United Kingdom, and in the Pacific Northwest section of North America.

Important Disclaimer

Below we will give some tips on how to identify wavy cap mushrooms.  But the information we provide below is only a starting point. If you don’t have experience hunting for mushrooms, buy a detailed guide.  And be sure to go hunting with an experienced forager.  NEVER consume any mushroom unless you are absolutely sure of its identity.  Every year people die after consuming poisonous mushrooms.  And with some species, just one mushroom is enough to kill you.

For a more detailed look at wavy caps and other psilocybin mushrooms, we recommend Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide, by Paul Stamets.  The photos and descriptions are exceptionally clear.  While our article provides a good overview, please don’t rely on the internet to identify a mushroom. This isn’t a subject on which to take short-cuts.

Also, in many areas, mushrooms containing psilocybin remain illegal, and penalties for possession are severe.  Make sure that you are aware of the laws in your region before picking one of these mushrooms.

Here is a detailed look at the psilocybe cyanescens, or wavy cap mushroom.



The color of the wavy mushroom caps ranges from light to medium brown when the mushroom is growing. The mushroom fades to cream or yellowish when dried. The caps bruise easily and will turn bluish greenish if bruised.

The caps are usually a half-inch to 2 inches across. They start as convex-shaped but flatten out and then become wavy as they mature. They are slimy and shiny when wet. The cap margin is thick, and it hangs loosely over the gills.

psilocybe cyanescens


Psilocybe cyanescens gills are moderately crowded and loosely attached to the stem. The gills of a young wavy mushroom are pale, but they start to develop dark spots as the mushroom ages before turning a dark shade of purple. However, the edges of the gills remain brown throughout the lifetime of the mushroom. Like the caps, they turn bluish when bruised.


The stems of the Psilocybe Cyanescens are about a quarter-inch wide and grow between 1.5 and 3 inches tall. The stem is chalk white, circular, and fibrous. Some wavy mushrooms have a stem that is wider at the top and narrower in the middle. When the partial veil of the mushroom sheds, it leaves an evanescent ring on the stem.


Its spores are smooth and ellipsoidal. Deposited Psilocybe Cyanescens pores are dark purple or brownish.


Wavy mushrooms have no distinct odor.


They mainly grow in places rich in ligneous material such as on mulchy areas, coniferous woods, leaf litter, or sawdust. They can also be found in mulched gardens and plant beds. Mostly, they fruit in lower temperatures, such as during fall. They can grow solitarily but have also been found in large clusters.

Geographical Distribution

Psilocybe cyanescens is believed to have originated in Central Europe. Over the years, they have spread across the globe but are mainly found in Central and Western Europe,

The wavy cap mushrooms found in the Pacific Northwest are actually a very closely related species called psilocybe allenil.  Psilocybe allenil and psilocybe cyanescens are so similar that their differences can only be determined with a microscope.  They both have the same psychedelic effects.  Therefore, mushroom foragers consider both species to be wavy cap mushrooms.


While not considered to be poisonous, these mushrooms contain large amounts of psilocybin.  They are highly potent and will take you on a trip.

If parboiled, the psychoactive compounds are rendered inactive, However, they are bitter, so most people opt not to eat them.

Effects of Consuming Psilocybe Cyanescens Mushrooms

Like other psilocybin mushrooms, consuming wavy cap mushrooms will take you on a psychedelic trip. Whether or not the trip will be good varies from one individual to another. Like other psychedelics, the effects of consuming psilocybe cyanescens vary according to user.

Some users have reported positive effects including a feeling of calm and bliss, and having profound thoughts. On the other hand, commonly reported negative effects of consuming magic mushrooms include intense emotions, hallucinations, excessive sweating, dilated pupils, stomach upset, and delusionality.


Psilocybe cyanescens have different types of Indole alkaloids, including psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin. The Indole alkaloids levels vary depending on where the mushrooms are growing. Reportedly, North American wavy cap mushrooms have higher levels than their European counterparts.

Psilocybe cyanescens psilocybin levels range between 0.39-0.66% while their psilocin content ranges between 0.75%-1.96%.  This is higher than most other psilocybin mushrooms, hence wavy caps are recognized as one of the most highly potent psilocybin mushrooms.

Cultivating Psilocybe Cyanescens Mushrooms

While some mushroom enthusiasts have been able to successfully grow psilocybe cyanescens mushrooms, it can be challenging to meet the necessary conditions for growing them indoors. However, under the right climatic conditions, they easily grow outdoors.

In either case, psilocybe cyanescens mushrooms record low yields. Better yields have been achieved by propagating mycelium via stem butt transplantation and then transplanting. The cultivated psilocybe cyanescens mushrooms have the same levels of psilocin and psilocybin as the naturally occurring ones.

The Legality of Psilocybe Cyanescens

The legality of psilocybe cyanescens varies greatly across the globe. For instance, in New Zealand, Ireland, Croatia, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Japan, and Germany, psilocybe cyanescens and other magic mushrooms are banned.

Possession of psilocybin mushrooms is banned in most of the US as of this writing, except for Ann Arbor, Michigan and Denver, Colorado.  The California cities of Santa Cruz and Oakland have decriminalized magic mushrooms. In countries such as Samoa, Brazil, Nepal, and Jamaica, cultivation and psilocybe cyanescens mushrooms are allowed. In Spain, cultivation for personal use is allowed.

Furthermore, the UN Convention on Psychotropic substances bans the use, possession, and trafficking of Schedule 1 drugs under which psychedelics are regulated. However, it does not have a provision for naturally occurring psychedelics such as psilocybe cyanescens mushrooms.

Regulations are constantly being updated, so check your region’s laws before picking one of these mushrooms.

Psilocybe Cyanescens lookalikes

If you are interested in foraging for wild wavy cap mushrooms, it is important to know that there are several lookalikes, and at least one is highly poisonous.

Below is a look at some of the top psilocybe cyanescens lookalikes and their distinguishing characteristics.

Galerina Marginata

The galerina marginata is a highly poisonous wavy cap lookalike. They are both brown, and both turn yellowish when dried.   Adding to the danger, galerina marginata mushrooms grow in similar condition and have actually been found growing among wavy caps,

There are reliable ways to differentiate the two types of mushrooms, but if you are not familiar with mushrooms, do not forage for wavy caps on your own.  Be sure to hunt with an experienced mushroom forager who can teach you to tell the difference.  People have died from eating galerina marginata by mistake, so foragers need to be very cautious about this look-alike.

Pholiotina Rugosa

The philiotina rugosa is another highly poisonous wavy cap lookalike. It contains amatoxins that destroy the liver leading to death.

As with the galerina marginata, There are ways to reliably differentiate these two types of mushrooms, but if you are not familiar with mushrooms, do not forage for wavy caps on your own.  Be sure to hunt with an experienced mushroom forager who can teach you to tell the difference.  People have died from eating galerina marginata by mistake, so foragers need to be very cautious about this look-alike.

Tubaria Furfuracea

Similar to wavy cap mushrooms, the tubaria furfuracea can be found on wood chips. While it is not poisonous, it is not considered to be edible due to its unpleasant taste. Unlike the wavy caps, which have chalk-whitish stems, the stems of the tubaria furfuracea are brownish like the rest of the mushroom.

The tubaria furfuracea mushroom stems are rather delicate and break easily as they do not bend, unlike wavy caps, whose stems are more malleable. The tubaria furfuracea has an orange-brownish spore print.

Wrapping It Up

Wavy cap mushrooms are a highly sought-after psychedelic mushroom that grows in the Eastern United States and Canada.  They are quite potent and can take you on a powerful trip.

Learn more about magic mushrooms and how to identify them in our The Easy Guide on How to Identify Magic Mushrooms.

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Effects and safety of Psilocybe cubensis and Panaeolus cyanescens magic mushroom extracts on endothelin-1-induced hypertrophy and cell injury in cardiomyocytes


Prevalence of major depression in people with chronic heart failure is higher than in normal populations. Depression in heart failure has become a major issue. Psilocybin-containing mushrooms commonly known as magic mushrooms, have been used since ancient times for their mind healing properties. Their safety in cardiovascular disease conditions is not fully known and may pose as a risk for users suffering from these illnesses. Study investigates the effects and safety of Psilocybe cubensis and Panaeolus cyanescens magic mushrooms use from genus Psilocybe and Panaeolus respectively, in a pathological hypertrophy conditions in which endothelin-1 disorder is a contributor to pathogenesis. We examined the effects of the mushrooms extracts on endothelin-1-induced hypertrophy and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF- α)-induced cell injury in H9C2 cardiomyocytes. Mushrooms were oven dried and extracted with cold and boiling-hot water. H9C2 cardiomyocytes were induced with endothelin-1 prior to treatment with extracts over 48 h. Cell injury was stimulated with TNF-α. Results proposed that the water extracts of Panaeolus cyanescens and Psilocybe cubensis did not aggravate the pathological hypertrophy induced by endothelin-1 and also protected against the TNF-α-induced injury and cell death in concentrations used. Results support medicinal safe use of mushrooms under controlled conditions and cautioned use of higher concentrations.


Heart failure is well-defined as a complex clinical syndrome that may results from any structural and/or functional cardiac disorder that impairs the ability of the heart ventricle to fill with or eject blood as needed1. Heart failure is a public health problem and a leading cause of morbidity and mortality1. The disease imposes a significant impact on the quality of life leading to disruptions in daily life on many affected persons2. It is reported that prevalence of major depression in chronic heart failure is about 20–40%, which is 4–5% higher than in general populations3. Furthermore, depression in heart failure patients may lead to a two-fold increase in mortality3. As a result, depression in patients with heart failure has become a major problem3.

Psilocybin-containing mushrooms commonly known as magic mushrooms have been used since ancient times for their mind healing properties in different indigenous populations4,5,6. Recently, psilocybin (4-phosphoryloxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine), a natural hallucinogen and a main compound in magic mushrooms was found to have significant antidepressant effects7. Awareness and use of magic mushrooms for depression and improved quality of life is growing as a result. The recreational dose by most users ranges from 1 to 3.5 g of dried mushrooms or 10–15 g of fresh mushrooms8. Magic mushrooms are generally not considered toxic with lethal dose of 280 mg/kg in rats and 17 kg/70 kg for humans8. Fatal intoxications due to exposure to magic mushrooms are rare and often reported to be mainly due to combination with other drugs8. However, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are also known to induce temporary increase in heart rate and blood pressure7,8. This increase in heart rate and blood pressure may present risk to users suffering from cardiovascular illnesses such as heart failure. Therefore use and safety of magic mushrooms in heart failure conditions needs to be investigated.

The study investigates the effects and safety of Psilocybe cubensis and Panaeolus cyanescens magic mushrooms from genus Psilocybe and Panaeolus respectively, in pathological hypertrophy conditions in which endothelin-1 (ET1-1) disorder is a contributor to pathogenesis. Endothelin-1 is a potent vasoconstrictor that plays a critically important role in the induction of myocyte hypertrophy9. Cardiac hypertrophy involves an increase in heart size without myocytes proliferation10. Initially cardiac hypertrophy is adaptive but overtime as the disease continues it moves into a decompensation stage which is pathological and progresses into heart failure11. Pathological hypertrophy is characterised by increase in expressions of foetal genes such as natriuretic peptides (ANP) and brain natriuretic peptides (BNP) consequently, both ANP and BNP are well-known hall marks of heart failure9. Involvement of Gq-protein couple receptor signalling is another main indicator of pathological hypertrophy12. Their agonists include ET-1 and angiotensin II both of which are chronically increased in the illness where they induce their effects on cardiac myocytes, altering excitation contraction coupling and more chronic effects on cardiac growth13,14. Potent pro-hypertrophic effects of ET-1 in vitro on primary cultures of ventricular myocytes are noticeably within the first 15 min of its application on the cells9.

This study evaluates for the first time the effects of Psilocybe cubensis and Panaeolus cyanescens magic mushrooms water extracts, one of the commonly used extraction method by mushroom users, on ET-1-induced hypertrophy using the rat embryonic ventricular H9C2 cardiomyoblast, which is a well-known and extensively used in vitro cell model with widely accepted reliability in cardiovascular drug discovery15. We also evaluate the safety of the two magic mushrooms on tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)-induced cell injury and death on the H9C2 cardiomyocytes. Tumor necrosis factor-α is a pro-inflammatory cytokine also known to plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis and progression of cardiovascular injury and apoptosis, hypertrophy and heart failure16. The result from this study may provide information on the safety or risk of the two magic mushroom uses in major depression associated with heart failure conditions.


Effects on cell width measurements and BNP concentrations

Morphological analysis showed that endothelin-1 stimulation increased the cell sizes of the cells and the positive control ambrisentan reversed the cell sizes, Fig. 1. The hot-water and cold-water of the two mushrooms, P. cubensis and Pan cyanescens reduced the sizes of the cells similar to ambrisentan. The control cells that were induced with ET-1 increased significantly (p < 0.0001) in cell width measurements when compared to the non-induced NO-ET1 cells, Fig. 2. The hot-water (GH) (p < 0.0001) and cold-water (GC) (p < 0.0001) extracts of P. cubensis and Pan cyanescens hot-water (PH) (p < 0.0001) and cold-water (PC) (p < 0.0001) extracts significantly reduced the cell with sizes of the treated cells when compared with ET-1 control cells. The positive control ambrisentan also significantly (p < 0.0001) reduced the cell sizes in comparison to the ET-1 cells.

Effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (50 μg/mL) and positive control ambrisentan (AMB) (25 μg/mL) on the morphology of the cells after 48 h treatment, repeated in three different times.

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Effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (50 μg/mL) and positive control ambrisentan (AMB) (25 μg/mL) on cell width size measurements and BNP levels after 48 h treatment, repeated in three different times [*significant].

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The control ET-1 induced cells significantly (p < 0.010) increased the BNP concentrations in comparison to the NO-ET1 non-induced cells, Fig. 2. The positive control ambrisentan reduced the ET-1 effect significantly (p < 0.0001) compared to the ET-1 control. The P. cubensis hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts significantly decreased the BNP (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001 respectively) in comparison to the ET-1 control. Pan cyanescens hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts also significantly decreased the levels of BNP with p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001 respectively when compared to the control ET1 cells, Fig. 2.

Effects on mitochondrial activity

Treatment with ET-1 reduced mitochondrial activity of the cells significantly (p < 0.0001 indicated by % cell viability below 80% in comparison to the NO-ET1 cells, Fig. 3. The water extracts of P. cubensis and Pan cyanescens increased the viability of cells above 80% in safe margins in a dose dependant manner same as ambrisentan, positive control, Fig. 3.

Effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (25 and 50 μg/mL) and positive control (AMB) ambrisentan (10 and 25 μg/mL) on % cell viability after 48 h treatment. Repeated in three different times [*significant].

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Effects on TNFα- levels

The ET-1 stimulation increased significantly (p = 0.006) the TNF-α level of the cells compared to NO-ET1 cells, Fig. 4. In comparison to the ET-1 control cells, the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis reduced significantly the TNF-α levels (p = 0.047 and p = 0.024 respectively). The hot-water (PH) extract of Pan cyanescens also significantly (p = 0.002) decreased the levels of TNF-α concentrations while the cold-water (PC) increased the levels non-significantly when compared with ET-1 control, Fig. 4 The positive control ambrisentan also reduced the ET-1 induced TNF-α concentration non-significantly.

Effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (50 μg/mL) and positive control (AMB) ambrisentan (25 μg/mL) on levels of TNF-α after 48 h treatment repeated in three different times [*significant].

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Effects on ROS levels and rate of cell growth

ET-1 increased the intracellular ROS productions (mainly the superoxide and hydroxyl radicals) which were reduced by the positive control ambrisentan, Fig. 5. The water extracts of Pan cyanescens reduced the ROS signalling while the water extracts of P. cubensis reduced the ROS signal very close to the positive control, Fig. 5.

Fluorescence effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (50 μg/mL) and positive control (AMB) ambrisentan (25 μg/mL) on intracellular ROS production after 1-h treatment (experiments were done in three different times).

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Treatment with ET-1 increased intracellular ROS significantly (p < 0.0001) in comparison to the NO-ET1 non-induced cells, Fig. 6. The positive control ambrisentan significantly decreased (p < 0.0001) the ET-1 induced ROS effect. P. cubensis hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts significantly decreased the ROS production (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001 respectively) in comparison to the ET-1 control. Pan cyanescens hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts also significantly decreased the levels of ROS production with p < 0.0001 and p < 0.0001 respectively when compared to the control ET1 induced cells, Fig. 6.

Effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (50 μg/mL) and positive control (AMB) ambrisentan (25 μg/mL) on intracellular ROS production measured and % cell viability growth rate after 1-h treatment, repeated in three different times [*significant].

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The effect of ET-1 stimulation and extract treatment on the rate of cell growth as indicated by % cell viability was also determined for each sample, Fig. 6. The extracts and ET-1 increased growth of cells after stimulation and treatment when compared to cell viability before exposure. The results also showed that the ET-1 stimulated cells lowered rate of growth when compared to NO-ET1 non-stimulated cells. The cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis increased rate of cell growth same as positive control ambrisentan and the hot-water (GH) had the highest growth rate when compared to normal NO-ET1 cells, Fig. 6. The two water extracts of Pan cyanescens on the other hand induced lower rate of cell growth when compared to NO-ET1 cells. The rate of growth was even lower than ET-1 stimulated control cells, Fig. 6.

The effects of the extracts on the growth rate of the cells after 12 h showed an increase in the treatments and positive control compared to the ET-1 treatment, Fig. 7. The % viability growth rate continued to improve in 24 h and such that the cold-water extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms was the highest of the extracts close to ambrisentan in the 48th hour.

Effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (50 μg/mL) and positive control (AMB) ambrisentan (25 μg/mL) on % cell viability growth rate after 1-h treatment and measured over 12, 24 and 48 h, repeated in three different times.

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Effects on TNF-α-induced cell injury and death

Stimulation with TNF- α induced a significant (p < 0.0001) decreased % viability of cells below 80% when compared with the normal un-induced and non-treated cells; Fig. 8. The cold and hot-water extracts of P. cubensis and Pan cyanescens mushrooms increased % cell viability of treated cells above 100% same as the positive control quercetin.

Protective effects of the hot-water (GH) and cold-water (GC) extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water (PH) and cold-water (PC) extracts of Pan cyanescens mushrooms (25 and 50 µg/mL) and the positive control quercetin (12.5 and 25 µg/mL) on TNF-α-induced cell injury and cardiomyocytes death over 24 h, repeated in three different times [*significant].

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Heart failure is a public health problem that significantly impacts daily management and the quality of life of many affected persons2. Major depression in chronic heart failure and its increasing role in heart failure mortality is an additional problem3. Although magic mushrooms have been used in ancient and recent times for mind healing and are known to improve the quality of life, their safety in cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure is not known. Our study investigated for the first time, the effects of the hot-water and cold-water extracts of Panaeolus cyanescens and Psilocybe cubensis magic mushrooms on ET-1, a major physiological inducer of hypertrophic changes in vitro on rat H9C2 cardiomyocytes where we evaluate the safety or ability of the extracts to exacerbate these effects. The in vitro H9C2 cardiomyoblast cells protocol model used in the study was chosen based on their established and proven capacity to exhibit physiological responses useful in drug discovery for cardiovascular medicine17. The results from the study demonstrated that treatment with ET-1 increased significantly the cell measurements sizes, BNP levels of the stimulated cells and decreased mitochondrial activity significantly as indicated by cell viability when compared to the non-induced NO-ET1 cells. These effects were in agreement with previous studies indicating successful cellular ET-1-induced hypertrophy in our study18.

The water extracts of P. cubensis and Pan cyanescens mushrooms reduced significantly the ET-1 induced cell size measurements of treated cells same as the positive control, ambrisentan, which selectively blocks ETA receptor and inhibit ET-1 pro-hypertrophic properties. The four water extracts also significantly reduced the ET-1-induced concentrations of BNP, one of the well-known hall mark peptide of heart failure. As a result the four extracts reversed the two main indices of hypertrophy (cell size and BNP levels) induced by ET-1 significantly in the concentrations used. Moreover, the four water extracts of the two magic mushrooms also improved mitochondrial activity of the cells signified by increasing the % cell viability of ET-1-induced cells in a dose-dependent manner same as positive control, ambrisentan indicating safety at the concentrations investigated in the study. Furthermore the two extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water extract of Pan cyanescens mushrooms reduced the TNF-α concentration in the treated cells compared to ET-1-induced control cells while the cold-water of Pan cyanescens slightly increased it non-significantly. TNF-α is a key pro-inflammatory cytokine that is known to promote cardiac dysfunctions and contributes to heart failure19. By reducing TNF-α, the three extracts demonstrated potential safety in heart failure conditions.

Many studies have established that ROS plays a very important role in the progression of cardiovascular diseases such as heart failure by inducing oxidative stress which in turn leads to cell and tissue injury20. Superoxide and hydroxyl radicals are among the most prominent ROS causing toxic insults to the human body21. In our study we measured ROS levels especially superoxide and hydroxyl radicals over 1 h of treatment after 2 h ET-1 stimulation and the results showed that the four water mushroom extracts reversed the ET-1-induced ROS levels significantly same as the positive control when compared to ET-1-induced control cells. By decreasing ROS levels, the extracts demonstrated safety and protective effect against ET-1 induced oxidative stress that will be beneficial in heart failure.

Furthermore, the decrease in ROS observed with the extracts was not due to toxicity based on the positive increase in cell growth rate (Fig. 4) where % viability of cells continued to increase after 1 h treatment. However, it was also quite interesting to perceive the differences between the water extracts of the two mushrooms on cell growth rate analysis in comparison to the NO-ET-1 cells. The cells treated with P. cubensis extract after 1 h continued to grow at the rate close to positive control, ambrisentan and NO-ET1 cells while the water extract of Pan cyanescens lead to a reduction in rate of cell growth even slower than that observed with ET-1-induced control cells. This effect showed that although Pan cyanescens water extracts reduced ROS levels, they also contain other compounds that lowered rate of cell growth. However, it is known that Pan cyanescens mushrooms are unique in that they possess very high levels of urea in addition to psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, and other compounds generally known to be present in magic mushrooms22. Urea is also known to induce cell cycle delay and promote a slow rate of increase of cells in log phase of growth23. This could be the reason behind such a reduction in rate of cell growth observed with Pan cyanescens water extracts treatment compared to the other samples. However, we also observed an improvement change from 12 h in the growth rate of the two water extracts of Pan cyanescence such that the cold water exhibited the highest rate of growth by the 48th hour treatment. Caution is however needed with higher concentrations of Pan cyanescens mushroom water extracts as they may have potential to induce cell cycle delay in the first hour after consumption.

To further investigate safety of the extracts on cell injury, the results showed that the cardiomyocytes induced with TNF-α stimulated a significant cell death indicated by reduction in the viability of induced cells below 80% compared to normal non-induced cells. The four extracts of the two magic mushrooms reversed the TNF-α-induced cell injury and death signified by increasing % cell viability of the treated cells same as positive control quercetin in a dose dependent manner. This effect demonstrated the protective effect of the mushroom extracts against cardiomyocyte injury that will be beneficial in a pathological hypertrophy condition.

Moreover, it was also interesting to observe that although the cold-water extract of Pan cyanescens mushroom did not inhibit production of TNF-α concentration in the ET-1 stimulated cells after 48 h, the extract still protected against ET-1 induced cell death by increasing % cell viability of cells even higher than the positive control and non-induced cells at the concentrations used in the study as shown in Fig. 3. This effect combine with the protective effect of the cold-water extract on TNF-α-induced cell injury above demonstrate that the extract may have compounds that blocked the induced-cardiomyocyte apoptosis cascades probably by activating or promoting expressions of the cell death repressors. Studies have shown that the apoptosis effects of TNF-α in the heart is depending on the type of its receptor whereby it exhibits its cardiotoxic effect through its receptor TNFR1 (tumor necrosis factor receptor1)24,25. After binding to its TNFR1 receptor, TNF-α can stimulates apoptosis in cardiomyocytes by activating sphingomyelin signal transduction pathway leading to production of the intracellular signalling molecule, sphingosine25.

Sphingosine is a well-known effective inducer of apoptosis on cardiomyocytes and it induces its effect by down-regulating the expressions of cell death repressors, Bcl-2 (B Cell Lymphoma-2) family protein in the same manner as it does in other cell types25. Furthermore, sphingosine is also a potent inhibitor of protein kinase C (PKC), which has been found to protect cells from apoptotic cell death; consequently, sphingosine may promote apoptosis through PKC inhibition by changing the level of Blc-2 phosphorylation25. Moreover, many studies have also found that the beta-adrenergic receptor1 blocker (β1-blocker) enhances the resistance of cardiomyocytes to cell death by expanding the survival range of the switching response of Bcl-226. Beta-adrenergic receptor1 is one of the β-adrenergic receptors known to transduce the cell death signal via cyclic 3′,5′-adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent signalling pathways of cardiomyocytes which may result in the reduction of cardiac contractility related to the pathophysiology of heart failure26. We propose possibility that the water extracts of Pan cyanescens and P. cubensis mushrooms may possess compounds with potential ability to promote or activate overexpression and/or phosphorylation of Blc-2 proteins pathways thereby inhibiting the induced-apoptosis and preserving mitochondrial membrane integrity of the treated cells. And this compound/s may be more pronounced in the cold-water extraction of Pan cyanescens mushroom.

Moreover, the suppressive effects of the two-water extract of P. cubensis and the hot-water extract of Pan cyanescens on ET-induced TNF-α levels of treated cells also indicated that these extracts may also have activity on the nuclear factor (NF)-κB signalling, a transcription factor that regulates the expression of many pro-inflammatory cytokines including TNF-α and the genes associated with apoptosis27. Studies have proposed that the inflammation-related NF-κB signaling and its correlation with apoptosis is the underlying mechanism in the pathogenesis of heart failure28. Furthermore, oxidative stress may also activate NF-κB and initiate the transcription of numerous pro-apoptotic genes, which includes Bax, Fas and Fas ligand, inducing myocardial cell apoptosis and further promoting heart failure condition29. A further study into the mechanisms of action in vitro and in vivo is therefore recommended. Furthermore, in previous studies, mycochemical compounds were verified to be present in both Pan cyanescens and P. cubensis mushrooms such as alkaloids, with known biological activities including toxicity against cells of foreign organisms22,30. Saponins which are known as potent antioxidant that neutralises free radicals and flavonoids with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinorgenic activities22,30. Finally, tannins with antioxidant properties related to their scavenging activities reported to have been used against heart diseases were also detected in the two mushrooms22,30. Presence of these compounds could have also played a role in the protective activities exhibited by the water extracts of Pan cyanescens and P. cubensis mushrooms in the study. The study also showed that in general the cardioprotective effects were more pronounced with the hot-water extracts of the two mushrooms compared to the cold-water extractions suggesting more benefit with users of the mushrooms that consume the mushrooms with tea.

In conclusion, the study demonstrated that ET-1 significantly increased cell size measurements, BNP, TNF-α and ROS levels and decreased mitochondrial activity of the stimulated cardiomyocyte cells. The results indicated that the water extracts of P. cubensis and Pan cyanescens mushrooms significantly reversed the cell size and BNP levels which are two indices of hypertrophy and increased viability of cells. The two water extracts of P. cubensis and hot-water extract of Pan cyanescens mushrooms also significantly reduced the ET-1-induced TNF-α, a pro-inflammatory cytokine involved in the progression of pathological hypertrophy and heart failure. The four extracts also inhibited the ET-1 induced intracellular ROS levels significantly indicating potential safety in these conditions. Furthermore, the extracts exhibited protective properties against TNF-α-induced cell injury and death in the concentrations investigated in the study.

Finally, the study proposed that the water extracts of Panaeolus cyanescens and Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms did not increase the ET-1-induced hypertrophic changes, instead the two mushrooms had cardioprotective potential properties and also alleviated against TNF-α-induced cell injury and death in the concentrations investigated. The study indicated for the first time the safety and potential beneficial properties of Panaeolus cyanescens and Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms usage in heart failure conditions where ET-1 is the course of pathological hypertrophic changes. However, cautioned with higher concentrations. Further investigation is required to establish the underlying mechanisms of action.

Materials and methods

Ethical and protocol clearances

The protocol for this study was submitted to the University of Pretoria research committee (UPREC) and approved with the number REC045-18. The protocol was also submitted and approved by the Medical Control Council (MCC) committee of South African Health Department and a permit (POS 223/2019/2020) as psilocybin-containing mushrooms are schedule 7 substances in South Africa.

Growing mushrooms and making extracts

The spores print syringes of Psilocybe cubensis (P. cubensis) and Panaeolus (Coplandia) cyanescens (Pan cyanescens) mushrooms commonly known as “Golden teacher” and "Natal blue minie” verified with an SKU number TEA-1 and TBMN-1 respectively by the Sporespot Company and were all purchased from Sporespot Company Durban, South Africa. The sterile substrate with SKU number SSK-2 used to grow the mushrooms was also purchased from the same company. As soon as they arrived, the spores were inoculated in the substrate and allowed to grow in a sterilised monotub with monitored temperature and humidity under sterile conditions. Mushrooms were grown, harvested and extracts with hot boiling and cold water solvent according to Nkadimeng et al.31 method. The extracts were kept in dark in the fridge until use. The hot-water and cold-water extracts of P. cubensis are referred to as GH and GC respectively while the hot-water and cold-water of Pan cyanescence are referred to as PH and PC in the study.

Culturing of cells

The rat H9C2 cardiomyoblast cells were purchased from American Type Culture Collection and maintained using Dolbecco Modified Eargle media (DMEM) (Pan, Separations Scientific) supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) (Gibco, Sigma Aldrich) and 1% of 100 IUnits/mL penicillin and 100 µg/L streptomycin (Pan, Celtics diagnostic) in 75 cm2 tissue culture treated flasks (NEST, Whitehead Scientific). The cells were grown in an incubator (HERAcell 150, Thermo Electron Corporations, USA) at 37 °C in 5% CO2 balanced air.

Treatment of cells

The H9C2 cardiomyoblast cells were cultured according to the method of18,32 with modification. Briefly as soon as cells reached 70% confluency they were passaged, counted and 1 × 106 cells seeded and grown on glass cover slips in 6 well plates (NEST, Whitehead scientific). After 24 h medium was removed, the cells in the 6 well plates were deprived of serum for 18 h. After 18 h sera-free media was removed, and the cells were treated with 100 nM endothelin-1 (ET-1) 1160/100U (R&D, Whitehead Scientific) and incubated for 45 min before treated with the four water extracts (50 μg/mL) and positive control (25 μg/mL) ambrisentan (SML2104, Sigma-aldrich), an endothelin-1A receptor inhibitor over 48 h in media supplemented with 1% FBS and 1% penicillin–streptomycin. This medium was used to prepare and dilute all the treatment and drugs. Control cells were induced with ET-1 but not treated, while non-induced control cells (No-ET) were neither induced with ET-1 nor treated.

Mitochondrial activity

To test for mitochondrial activity, 1 × 104 cells were seeded in 96 well plates (NEST, Whitehead scientific), deprived of serum the same way as above with serum-free DMEM over 18 h prior to inducing the cells with ET-1 100 nM for 45 min. Then cells were treated with the four extracts and positive controls over 48 h in the presence of 1% FBS DMEM as above. Control cells were ET-1-induced but not treated and NO-ET1 cells were neither induced with ET-1 nor treated. Mitochondrial activity was measured using the Resazurin assay kit AR002 (R & D, Whitehead scientific) according to the manufacture manual. Viability of cells in percentages was calculated using the formula: % Viability = ((Sample Absorbance/control Absorbance) × 100). The experiments were performed in triplicate and repeated in three different times.

Cell surface area measurements

After 48 h treatment, the cells on cover slips were stained with haematoxylene and eosin staining and mounted on the glass slide. Images of morphological changes were taken with a light microscopy Olympus BX63 using 20 µm lenses and the cells were analysed for cell size width measurements using CellSens Dimension 1,12 software. The surface area of cells from each group (60–80 cells/group) were determined and compared with the ET-1 control cells. The results showed represented analysis from three independent experiments.

BNP concentration measurements

The effects of the extracts on brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) concentrations were determined and quantified using the Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) Enzyme Immunoassay (EIA) (RAB0386, Sigma-aldrich) following the manufacture instructor manual on the cell culture medium after 48 h treatment. Concentration of BNP levels in the samples were calculated from a standard curve.

TNF-α concentration measurement

The effects of the extracts on TNF-α levels after 48 h treatment were determined on the culture media using the rat tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) ELISA kit (E-EL-R0019, Elabscience, Biocom Africa) according to the manufacture manual protocol. Concentrations of rat TNF-α concentration in the cell culture media samples were calculated from the standard curve.

Intracellular ROS measurements

To measure the reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated by the cells induced with ET-1 and treated with the four extracts, the cells were seeded in 96 wells and deprived with serum for 18 h. Thereafter the cells were induced with ET-1 over 2 h before treated with 50 µg/mL concentrations of the four water mushroom extracts and 25 µg/mL ambrisentan for 1 h. Fluorometric Intracellular ROS assay kit (Green Fluorescence) MAK 143 (Sigma-Adrich) was used according to manual instructions to detect intracellular ROS (especially superoxide and hydroxyl radicals) in live cells with a green fluorescence intensity at λex = 485/20520/25 nm on ET-1-induced cardiomyocytes. Fluorescence pictures of intracellular ROS production were obtained with using a 10 µm lenses. The experiment were repeated in three different times.

Determining the rate of cell growth

In order to determine the effects of extracts on rate of cell growth, the absorbance in each well was measured before the cells were stimulation ET-1 and also after 2 h ET-1-stimulation and 1 h treatment with the extracts (50 μg/mL) and positive control (25 μg/mL) ambrisentan. The difference in growth rate was determined by subtracting the absorbance measured before exposure from absorbance after exposure and treatment. The percentage of rate of cell survival and growth for each sample was calculated using the formula: % Viability = ((Sample difference absorbance/sample-control) × 100) where sample difference absorbance = (absorbance of sample before exposure − absorbance after exposure and treatment); and sample-control = absorbance of the sample before exposure. The effects of the extracts on rate of cell growth was determined for each samples and compared with the control ET-1 treatment and No-ET1 samples. The effects of the extracts on the rate of growth after 1 h treatment were also determined after 12, 24 and 48 h. The experiments were performed in three different conditions.

Protective effects of extracts on TNF-α-induced apoptosis

The effect of the four water extracts on the TNF-α-induced cardiomyocyte injury and cell death was determined by using method of33 with modifications. Briefly, 1 × 105 cells were seeded into 96 well plates and exposed for 18 h to sera free medium as above after 24 h. The cardiomyocytes were induced with rat TNF-α (250 pg/mL) from the (TNF-α) ELISA kit (E-EL-R0019, Elabscience, Biocom Africa) for 2 h before treatment with extracts (25 and 50 µg/mL) and positive control quercetin (12.5 and 25 µg/mL) and incubated over 24 h. After 24 h mitochondrial activity was measured using Resazurin assay kit (AR002, R & D, Whitehead Scientific) according to the manufacture manual and viability of cells in percentages was calculated same as in “Mitochondrial activity” section. The experiments were performed in triplicate and repeated in three different times.

Statistical analysis

Statistically significant values were compared using one way ANOVA analysis of variance using an interactive statistical program (Sigmastat, SPSS version 26, USA). Normality test was performed using Shapiro–Wilk and equal variance test of Brown-Forsythe. Results are expressed as mean ± standard deviations and the p value of ≤ 0.050 was considered statistically significant. The hot-water and cold-water extracts of P. cubensis are referred to as GH and GC respectively while the hot-water and cold-water of Pan cyanescence are referred to as PH and PC in the study.


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We very much appreciate the support of Mr Llewelyn Morland who assisted with the growing of mushrooms, and Ms Lebogang E Moagi for assistance with statistics.


This study was funded by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA) and MJ Medtech Grant to S.M. Nkadimeng.

Author information


  1. Phytomedicine Programme, Paraclinical Sciences Department, University of Pretoria, P/Bag X04, Onderstepoort, Pretoria, 0110, Gauteng, South Africa

    Sanah M. Nkadimeng & Jacobus N. Eloff

  2. Physiology Department, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

    Christiaan M. L. Steinmann


S.M.N. conceptualized and designed the experiments. SMN wrote the first original draft of the manuscript. S.M.N., C.L.M.S. and J.N.E. were all involved in revision and editing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sanah M. Nkadimeng.

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Nkadimeng, S.M., Steinmann, C.M.L. & Eloff, J.N. Effects and safety of Psilocybe cubensis and Panaeolus cyanescens magic mushroom extracts on endothelin-1-induced hypertrophy and cell injury in cardiomyocytes. Sci Rep10, 22314 (2020).

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How to find Psilocybin Cyanescens on the Northwest coast.

Wavy Caps (Psilocybe cyanescens) (by Christian Schwarz)

The specimens in this photo show somewhat faded specimens. Note the wavy caps and blue stains on the stipe. Spore deposit is dark purplish-gray to very dark reddish-brown.

Psilocybe is primary genus of hallucinogenic mushrooms, containing such famous species as Liberty Caps (P. semilanceata), Cubes (P. cubensis), and the topic of this month’s article, Wavy Caps (P. cyanescens).

Almost always encountered on woodchips, Psilocybecyanescens is an aggressive ruderal species, fond of disturbance in urban areas. It is especially common in the cold, wet winter months around the San Francisco Bay. Through a combinatin of unintentional and intentional transplantation by humans and natural dispersal, it has spread widely throughout the United States. In California, it occurs at least as far south as San Diego County, although it is fairly rare south of Santa Cruz County.

Psilocybe allenii is a recently-described species that is extremely similar in most respects. It is primarily differentiable by its less-wavy cap. See this link for more details:

Although only P. cyanescens and P. allenii occur with any regularity in Santa Cruz County, the further north one travels along the Pacific Coast, the more diverse the Psilocybe-assemblage becomes: P. baeocystis, P. azurescens, P. stuntzii, P. ovoideocystidiata, P. pelliculosa, and P. semilanceata all occur in this area, among those already mentioned.

Left photo: Specimens showing the tendency of the stipe bases to bring up large chunks of substrate tightly bound with tough rhizomorphs. Note the aqua to navy-blue stains and the wavy cap margins.

Right photo: Specimens that have not yet developed much blue staining. Note the umbonate caps that are becoming wavy, chestnut-caramel colored caps, bright white stipes, and button with a silky white cortina-type partial veil near the center.

Primary confusion species are other Psilocybe, but recreational users run the risk of confusing them with potentially-deadly Galerina marginata, as well as Pholiotina or Conocybe species. All of these have more fragile stipes, bright rusty-orange spore deposits, and lack strong blue staining on all parts.

Left photo:Galerina marginata group

These rusty-spored wood-chip dwellers sometimes grow right alongside Psilocybe species, posing a serious danger to inexperienced recreational pickers. The softer stipe texture, lack of blue staining, and rusty spore deposit help distinguish them.

P. cyanescens and its relatives are widely cultivated and collected for recreational use by a global populaton of neuronauts and other adventure-seekers. Effects of ingestion include wondrous and/or overwhelming visual enhancements/disturbances, heightened sensations, cyclical and often “swelling” feelings of ecstasy, euphoria and connection to place, people, Nature, Time, and the Universe; but can also result in feelings of fear, unease, disconnection, and loss of sense of Self. As with any psychedelic drug, personal predispositions and psychic peculiarities in combination with details of set and setting exert a heavy influence on the tone of the trip.

Note from The Powers That Be: In the United States, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are classified as Schedule 1 drugs, illegal to possess, sell, transport, or cultivate (this includes spores in the State of California).


Cyanescens psilocybe

Psilocybe cyanescens

Species of fungus

Psilocybe cyanescens (sometimes referred to as wavy caps or as the potent Psilocybe[1]) is a species of potent psychedelic mushroom. The main compounds responsible for its psychedelic effects are psilocybin and psilocin. It belongs to the family Hymenogastraceae. A formal description of the species was published by Elsie Wakefield in 1946 in the Transactions of the British Mycological Society, based on a specimen she had recently collected at Kew Gardens.[2] She had begun collecting the species as early as 1910.[3][4] The mushroom is not generally regarded as being physically dangerous to adults.[5][6] Since all the psychoactive compounds in P. cyanescens are water-soluble, the fruiting bodies can be rendered non-psychoactive through parboiling, allowing their culinary use. However, since most people find them overly bitter and they are too small to have great nutritive value, this is not frequently done.[5]

Psilocybe cyanescens can sometimes fruit in colossal quantity; more than 100,000 mushrooms were found growing in a single patch at a racetrack in England.[7]



Psilocybe cyanescens has a hygrophanouspileus (cap) that is caramel to chestnut-brown when moist, fading to pale buff or slightly yellowish when dried. Caps generally measure from 1.5–5 cm (½" to 2") across, and are normally distinctly wavy in maturity.[1] The color of the pileus is rarely seen in mushrooms outside of the P. cyanescens species complex. Most parts of the mushroom, including the cap and Lamellae (gills, underneath the cap) can stain blue when touched or otherwise disturbed, probably due to the oxidation of psilocin.[6][8] The lamellae are adnate, and light brown to dark purple brown in maturity, with lighter gill edges. There is no distinct annulus, but immature P. cyanescens specimens do have a cobwebby veil which may leave an annular zone in maturity.[1] Both the odor and taste are farinaceous.

P. cyanescens has smooth, elliptical spores which measure 9–12 x 5–8 µm.[9] According to some authors, the holotype collection of the species from Kew Gardens featured no pleurocystidia, but North American collections are characterized by common clavate-mucronate pleurocystidia.[5][6] However, pleurocystidia are present in the holotype collection (but not easily to observe since hymenium is collapsed). In European collections of P. cyanescens, pleurocystidia are common and their shape is identical to those known from the United States.[2][10] In 2012, an epitype from Hamburg, Germany was designated.[11]

Fresh sporocarps and mycelia of P. cyanescens generally bruise blueish or blue-green where damaged, and the staining remains visible after drying. This staining is most noticeable on the stem (which is white when undisturbed) but can also occur on other parts of the mushroom, including the gills, cap,[1] and mycelium.[5] This staining is due primarily to the oxidation of psilocin. (Psilocybin cannot be oxidized directly, but is quickly converted via enzymatic action to psilocin at injury sites which can then be oxidized, so even specimens with little psilocin still generally blue.)[6][8]

Related species[edit]

Other related species may include P. weraroa, and these relatives are collectively referred to as the "Psilocybe cyanescens complex" or as the "caramel-capped psilocybe complex," due to their extremely similar appearance and habit.[5] There is phylogenetic evidence that there are two distinct clades in the complex, one consisting of P. cyanescens and P. azurescens and allies, and the other consisting of P. serbica and allies (European taxa).[12] It has also been shown that Psilocybe weraroa (previously known as Weraroa novae-zelandiae) is very closely related to P. cyanescens despite its vastly dissimilar appearance.[12]

A very close relative of P. cyanescens is Psilocybe allenii (described in 2012), formerly known as Psilocybe cyanofriscosa, a mushroom found in California and Washington[13][14] It can be distinguished by macromorphological features and/or sequencing of rDNA ITS molecular marker.

It is often difficult or impossible to distinguish between members of the P. cyanescens complex except by range without resorting to microscopic or molecular characters.[5]

Although not closely related, Psilocybe cyanescens has been at least occasionally confused with Galerina marginata with fatal results.[citation needed] The two mushrooms have generally similar habits and appearances, and bear a superficial resemblance to each other such that inexperienced mushroom-seekers may confuse the two.[1] The two species can grow side-by-side, which may add to the chance of confusion.[15] The two mushrooms have different colored spores, making a spore print essential to proper identification.

Habitat and distribution[edit]

Psilocybe cyanescens grows today primarily on wood chips, especially in and along the perimeter of mulched plant beds in urban areas,[3] but can also grow on other lignin-rich substrates.[5]P. cyanescens does not grow on substrate that is not lignin-rich.[1][5] Fruitings have been reported in natural settings previously (although most appear to be migrations from mulched plant beds.)[5][7] The species does not typically grow on mulch that is made from bark.[16]

In the United States, P. cyanescens occurs mainly in the Pacific Northwest, stretching south to the San Francisco Bay Area. It can also be found in areas such as New Zealand, [17]Western Europe, Central Europe, and parts of west Asia (Iran).[18] The range in which P. cyanescens occurs is rapidly expanding, especially in areas where it is not native as the use of mulch to control weeds has been popularized.[7] This rapid expansion of range may be due in part to the simple expedient of P. cyanescens mycelium having colonized the distribution network of woodchip suppliers and thus being distributed on a large scale with commercial mulch.[3] It has been documented to fruit in Spring on the East Coast of the United States.[19]

Although it has been speculated that P. cyanescens' native habitat is the coniferous woodlands of the north-western United States[3][5] or coastal dunes in the PNW, the type specimen was described from mulch beds in Kew Gardens, and there is no widely accepted explanation of P. cyanescens original habitat.[3]

Fruiting is dependent on a drop in temperature.[5] In the San Francisco Bay Area, this means that fruiting typically occurs between late October and February,[1] and fruiting in other areas generally occurs in fall, when temperatures are between 10-18 °C (50-65 °F).[5]

Psilocybe cyanescens often fruits gregariously or in cespitose clusters, sometimes in great numbers. 100,000 P. cyanescens fruits were once found growing on a racetrack in the south of England.[7] Solitary fruits are sometimes also found.[5]

Indole content[edit]

The fruits of P. cyanescens have been shown to contain many different indole alkaloids including psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin.[5][6] It has also been shown that P. cyanescens mycelium will contain detectable levels of psilocin and psilocybin, but only after the formation of primordia.[20]

Indole content has been shown to be higher in North American specimens of P. cyanescens than in European ones.[6] This was, however, caused by the fact that Gartz did not analyze the genuine P. cyanescens but P. serbica.[citation needed]

North American fruiting bodies of P. cyanescens have been shown to contain between 0.66% and 1.96% total indole content by dry weight.[21] European fruiting bodies have been shown to have between 0.39% and 0.75% total indole content by dry weight.[6]

North American specimens of P. cyanescens are among the most potent of psychedelic mushrooms.[1][5] Its potency means that it is widely sought after by users of recreational drugs in those areas where it grows naturally.[5]


Fruiting begins with simulation of a fall environment, at temperatures between 10-18 °C (50-65 °F).

Psilocybe cyanescens, like many other psilocybin containing mushrooms, is sometimes cultivated.[5]

Due to the fruiting requirements of the species, it is challenging but possible to get P. cyanescens to produce fruits indoors.[5] Outdoor cultivation in an appropriate climate is relatively easy.[5] Yield per pound of substrate is low when compared to other psilocybin containing mushrooms for both indoor and outdoor cultivation.[5] The combination of poor yield and difficulty may explain why P. cyanescens is grown less frequently than some other psilocybin containing mushrooms.[5]

Psilocybe cyanescens mycelium is much easier to grow than actual fruits are, can be grown indoors,[5] and is robust enough that it can be transplanted in order to start new patches.[1] Mycelium can also be propagated via stem butt transplantation.[5]

Many of the cultivation techniques used with other members of the genus Psilocybe can be used to grow P. cyanescens as well.[6]

Cultivated P. cyanescens contain approximately the same concentration of psilocin and psilocybin as natural examples do.[6]

Psilocybe cyanescensspores

Legal status[edit]

Main article: Legal status of psilocybin mushrooms

Psilocybe cyanescens specimens do not fall under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances because the convention does not cover naturally occurring plants that incidentally contain a scheduled drug.[22] However, many countries choose to prohibit possession of psilocybin containing mushrooms, including P. cyanescens, under their domestic laws.[23]

Countries that have banned or severely regulated the possession of P. cyanescens include the United States, Germany, New Zealand, and many others. Although this is difficult to enforce since no species of Psilocybe mushroom has spores containing psilocybin or psilocin.[23] Because of this, Psilocybe cyanescens spores are not illegal to possess in many US states. (It is illegal to possess spores in Georgia and Idaho, and illegal to possess them with the intent to produce mushrooms in California.) [23]


  • Psilocybe cyanescens Alan.jpg
  • 2012-12-05 Psilocybe cyanescens Wakef 290259.jpg
  • Psilocybe cyanescens Blauender Kahlkopf 01.jpg
  • 2012-12-05 Psilocybe cyanescens Wakef 290269.jpg
  • Psilocybe.cyanescens.1000x.dic.JPG


  1. ^ abcdefghiArora, David (1986). Mushrooms demystified : a comprehensive guide to the fleshy fungi (2nd ed.). Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. pp. 371–372. ISBN .
  2. ^ abDennis, R.W.G.; Wakefield, E.M. (1 September 1946). "New or interesting British fungi". Transactions of the British Mycological Society. 29 (3): 141–166. doi:10.1016/S0007-1536(46)80038-X.
  3. ^ abcdeShaw, Peter J.A.; Geoffrey Kibby (January 2001). "Aliens in the Flowerbeds: The fungal biodiversity of ornamental woodchips"(PDF). Field Mycology. 2 (1): 6–11. doi:10.1016/s1468-1641(10)60081-3. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2016-01-31. Retrieved 2013-03-07.
  4. ^Duffy, Thomas. "Toxic Fungi of Western North America". Myokoweb. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  5. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwPaul Stamets (2000). Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms). Ten Speed Press. p. 329. ISBN .
  6. ^ abcdefghiGartz, Jochen (1998). "Observations on the Psilocybe cyanescens complex of Europe and America". Ann. Mus. Civ Rovereto. 12.
  7. ^ abcdBrown, Paul (January 3, 2011). "Magic mushrooms thrive as weeds wane". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 August 2011.
  8. ^ abSpoerke, edited by David G.; Rumack, Barry H. (1994). Handbook of mushroom poisoning : diagnosis and treatment. Boca Raton: CRC Press. ISBN .CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^Stamets, Paul (1996). Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. p. 111. ISBN .
  10. ^Borovička, Jan (2008). "The wood-rotting bluing Psilocybe species in central Europe - an identification key". Czech Mycology. 60 (2): 173–192. doi:10.33585/cmy.60202.
  11. ^Borovička J, Rockefeller A, Werner PG (2012). "Psilocybe allenii – a new bluing species from the west coast, USA"(PDF). Czech Mycology. 64 (2): 181–95. doi:10.33585/cmy.64207.
  12. ^ ab>Borovička, Jan; Noordeloos, Machiel E.; Gryndler, Milan; Oborník, Miroslav (2010). "Molecular phylogeny of Psilocybe cyanescens complex in Europe, with reference to the position of the secotioid Weraroa novae-zelandiae". Mycological Progress. 10 (2): 149–155. doi:10.1007/s11557-010-0684-3. S2CID 36050854.
  13. ^Beug, Michael (2011). "The Genus Psilocybe of North America". Fungi Magazine. 4 (3).
  14. ^Borovička, Jan; Rockefeller Alan; Werner Peter G. (2012). "Psilocybe allenii – a new bluing species from the Pacific Coast, USA". Czech Mycology. 64 (2): 181–195. doi:10.33585/cmy.64207.
  15. ^Beug, Michael. "POISONOUS AND HALLUCINOGENIC MUSHROOMS". Evergreen State College. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  16. ^Stamets, Paul (2005). Mycelium running : how mushrooms can help save the world. Berkeley, Calif.: Ten Speed Press. ISBN .
  17. ^"Wavy Cap (Psilocybe cyanescens)". iNaturalist NZ. Retrieved 2021-02-21.
  18. ^Asef Shayan MR. (2010). قارچهای سمی ایران (Qarch-ha-ye Sammi-ye Iran) [Poisonous mushrooms of Iran] (in Persian). Iran shenasi. p. 214. ISBN .
  19. ^"Long Island Mycological Club". Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  20. ^Gross, Susan (May 2000). "Detecting psychoactive drugs in the developmental stages of mushrooms". Journal of Forensic Sciences. 45 (3): 527–537. doi:10.1520/JFS14725J. PMID 10855955.
  21. ^BEUG, M; BIGWOOD, J (1 May 1982). "Psilocybin and psilocin levels in twenty species from seven genera of wild mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 5 (3): 271–285. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(82)90013-7. PMID 7201053.
  22. ^Lande, Adolf (1976). Commentary on the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. New York: United Nations. p. 385.
  23. ^ abc

External links[edit]


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How to find Psilocybin Cyanescens on the Northwest coast.

Psilocybe cyanescens Wakef. - Blueleg Brownie


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Phylum: Basidiomycota - Class: Agaricomycetes - Order: Agaricales - Family: Strophariaceae

Distribution - Etymology - Taxonomic History - Psychoactivity - Identification - Reference Sources

Psilocybe cyanescens - Magic Mushroom or Liberty Cap, Hampshire UK

Psilocybe cyanescens, commonly known in the UK as the Blueleg Brownie and in the USA as Wavy Caps, is usually found growing on rotting woodchip mulch.


Increasingly frequent in southern Britain and apparently spreading northwards, Psilocybe cyanescens is probably an introduced species from North America; however, the type specimen was described from woodchip mulch beds at the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew, in London UK. This species is now also recorded in many parts of western and central mainland Europe as well as in Australia.

Psilocybe cyanescens, Blueleg Brownie


Psilocybe, the genus name, means 'smooth head' - a reference to the silkily mooth, scaleless surface of caps of these grassland mushrooms. The specific epitet cyanescens means 'turning blue'.

Psychoactive alkaloid content

This species contains the compounds psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin. Because these substances, which occur in Magic Mushrooms and some related fungi, occasionally cause alarming symptoms including vomiting, stomach pains and anxiety attacks, some authorities advise that the Blueleg Brownie should be treated as poisonous.

It is our understanding that it is illegal to possess or to sell psilocybin in the UK. As of July 2005, fresh psilocybin mushrooms are now also controlled. They are treated in Law in the same way as dried magic mushrooms, because whether fresh or dried they have the same Class A drug status as Heroin, LSD and Cocaine.

Taxonomic history

This species was first described in 1838 by British mycologist Elsie Maud Wakefield (1886 - 1972), who gave it the scientific name Psilocybe cyanescens; this is the name by which this species is still generally known today. I have found no records of any synonyms of Psilocybe cyanescens.

Identification guide

Cap of Psilocybe cyanescens, Blueleg Brownie


Ranging from 2 to 5cm in diameter, the convex and later flattened caps are slightly sticky and have lined margins that usually become wavy at maturity. The caps bruise bluish, especially at the margin..

Gills of Psilocybe cyanescens


The brown adnate or slightly decurrent gills turn purple-brown as the spores mature; gill edges remain pale.

Cheilocystidia broadly fusiform.

Stems of Psilocybe cyanescens


3 to 6mm in diameter and 4.5 to 8cm tall, cylindrical, sometimes with a clavate base with blue rhizomorphs, the white stem of Psilocybe cyanescens is fibrous and bruises pale blue. The partial veil is fibrillose and leaves an evanescent superior ring zone on the stem.

Spore, Psilocybe cyanescens


Ellipsoidal, smooth, 9-12.5 x 5-7μm.

Show larger image


Spore print

Very dark purple-brown.


Indistinct or very faint mealy odour. Do not taste Psilocybe cyanescens because it contains toxic hallucinogens that are potentially dangerous.

Habitat & Ecological role

This saprobic mushroom is most often found on woodchip mulch (not usually on bark); it is probably an introduced alien species in Britain.


These so-called 'Magic Mushrooms' are found in Britain mainly in autumn and winter.

Similar species

The deadly poisonous Funeral Bell Galerina marginata is similar but has a distinct stem ring and does not bruise blue.

Panaeolina foenisecii, the Brown Mottlegill or Mower's Mushroom, is a grassland species.

A large troop of Psilocybe cyanescens, Blueleg Brownie

Reference Sources

Fascinated by Fungi, Pat O'Reilly 2016.

Dennis, R.W.G.; Wakefield, E.M. (1 Sept. 1946). "New or interesting British fungi". Trans. British Mycological Society. 29 (3): 141–166.

Dictionary of the Fungi; Paul M. Kirk, Paul F. Cannon, David W. Minter and J. A. Stalpers; CABI, 2008

Taxonomic history and synonym information on these pages is drawn from many sources but in particular from the British Mycological Society's GB Checklist of Fungi and (for basidiomycetes) on Kew's Checklist of the British & Irish Basidiomycota.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by Simon Harding.

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