Psilocybe cubensis: Complete Mushroom Identification Guide (2024)

What you should know

Psilocybe cubensis is a species of psychedelic mushroom whose main active compounds are psilocybin and psilocin. It belongs to the Hymenogastraceae fungal family and was previously known as Stropharia cubensis. It is the most well-known psilocybin mushroom due to its wide distribution and ease of cultivation.

There are more than 180 species of psilocybin mushrooms worldwide. Its consumption can cause hallucinogenic/psychedelic effects. The key ingredient in these mushrooms is psilocybin. Psilocybin is a pro-drug, meaning the body converts it to psilocin, a chemical with psychoactive properties. Other chemicals present in smaller quantities include psilocin, baeocystin, and norbaeocystin, although it is unclear to what extent they contribute to the overall effects.

Other names:Magic mushrooms, golden halos, golden cubes or caps.

Identification of mushrooms

  1. Sombrero

    1.5-8 (10) cm wide, broadly conical or oval or bell-shaped (often with an umbo) when young, gradually expanding to convex, broadly umbonate or flat; surface smooth or with small traces of whitish veil when young, slimy when wet, soon dry, variable color whitish with a brown to yellowish center, or totally yellow to yellow-brown to yellow-brown, or sometimes cinnamon brown when young and sometimes olive dirty in old age; bruising and bluish aging; margin sometimes hung with remains of veil.

  2. Carne

    White in color, it turns blue or greenish blue when bruised.

  3. Guts

    Adnate to annexed or sectioned to free

  4. Stipe

    4-15 cm long, 0.4-1-5 cm thick, equal or more often thicker below, dry, white or sometimes yellowish to yellow-brown, aged or bruised blue or blue-green; smooth.

  5. Velo

    Membranous, white or bluish, it usually forms a thin and fragile upper ring on a stem blackened by falling spores.

  6. Spores

    11-17x7-12 microns, elliptical, smooth, thick-walled, with a large apical germ pore. Cystidia present on gill faces, but chrysocystidia are absent.

  7. spore printing

    Dark purple to blackish brown in color.

  8. Bruises

    Blue or bluish green

  9. Mycelium

    Strong white rhizomorph.

Psilocybe cubensis Habitat natural

Psilocybe cubensis is a coprophilous fungus (a dung-loving species) that often colonizes the dung of large herbivores, especially cows and other grazing mammals such as goats. It prefers moist grasslands and has been found in tropical and subtropical environments. In the United States, it sometimes grows wild in the south, usually below the 35th parallel. It has been found in modern times in the highlands and river valleys of Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela in South America. It has also been found in Thailand, Cambodia, India, South Africa and Australia.

Psilocybe cubensis is found in places where humidity is above 85% most of the time and where there are herbivorous mammals. The reason cubensis commonly grows in the manure of these animals is because they have little or no stomach acid. The cow eats feed with fungal spores, and the spores germinate in the cow's warm, moist stomach.

No, cubensis is not found under cow patties, and you should not consume anything you find under cow patties. Cubensis can be reliably found within a few hundred miles of the Gulf Coast, especially in the fall and spring, all the way from Galveston, TX to Miami, FL. as far north as middle Tennessee.

Legality of Psilocybe cubensis

Psilocybin and psilocin are listed in Schedule I of the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. However, mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin are not illegal in some parts of the world. For example, in Brazil they are legal, but mushroom extractions containing psilocybin and psilocin remain illegal.

In the United States, growing or possessing Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms is illegal in all states, but it is legal to possess and purchase the spores for microscopy purposes. However, since May 8, 2019, Denver (Colorado) has decriminalized it for those over 21 years of age. On June 4, 2019, Oakland, California, followed suit, decriminalizing psilocybin-containing mushrooms as well as the Peyote cactus. On January 29, 2020, Santa Cruz, California decriminalized naturally occurring psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms. On November 3, 2020, the state of Oregon decriminalized possession of psilocybin mushrooms for recreational use and granted licensed professionals permission to administer psilocybin mushrooms to individuals 21 years of age or older.


Personal-scale growing of Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms ranges from the relatively simple, small-scale PF Tek and other "pie" methods, which produce a limited amount of mushrooms, to advanced techniques using methods from professional mushroom growers. These advanced methods require a greater investment of time, money and knowledge, but reward the diligent grower with much larger and much more consistent harvests.

Complete details of the crop you canfind in this PDF.

Taxonomy and etymology

The species was first described in 1906 as Stropharia cubensis by American mycologist Franklin Sumner Earle in Cuba. In 1907, the French pharmacist and mycologist Narcisse Théophile Patouillard identified it as Naematoloma caerulescens in Tonkin (now northern Vietnam), while in 1941 William Alphonso Murrill named it Stropharia cyanescens near Gainesville, Florida. The German mycologist Rolf Singer moved the species to the genus Psilocybe in 1949, giving it the binomial name Psilocybe cubensis. Synonyms were also later assigned to the species Psilocybe cubensis.

The name Psilocybe derives from the ancient Greek roots psilos (ψιλος) and kubê (κυβη), and translates as "naked head". Cubensis means "native to Cuba," and refers to the type locality published by Earle.

A common name in Thai is "Hed keequai," which translates to "mushroom that appears after the water buffalo defecates."


Photo 1 - Author:Alan Rockefeller(CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Photo 2 - Author:Dr. Brain Fish(CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Photo 3 - Author:Myco-il(CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

Photo 4 - Author:Ps0304.JPG: Derivative work of Zergboyder: Ak ccm(Public domain)

Psilocybe cubensis: Complete Mushroom Identification Guide (2024)


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