Psychedelic mushrooms are the most diverse type of naturally-occurring psychedelic. There are many different types of psychedelic mushrooms, with more varieties than – for example – psychedelic cacti.
Most types of psychedelic mushrooms are psychedelic because they contain the compound psilocybin.
However, another unique mushroom (fly agaric) results in psychedelic effects too, due to the presence of a completely different compound.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the diverse range of psilocybin mushrooms in the world, as well as compare these mushrooms to fly agaric. We can also distinguish types of psychedelic mushrooms based on their appearance, potency, and geographical location.
What Are Psychedelic Mushrooms?
Psychedelic mushrooms, or “magic mushrooms” refer to any type of mushroom that contains a psychoactive chemical that causes psychedelic effects. These psychedelic mushrooms, when you consume them, lead to changes in your perception, emotions, and thoughts.
Different types of psychedelic mushrooms have been used by indigenous cultures for thousands of years. In the history of psychedelics, psychedelic mushrooms have the oldest history of human usage, as far as we know.
The Aztec and Mayan civilizations used different types of mushrooms. For example, the ancient Maya consumed the mushroom species Psilocybe cubensis[*], while the Aztec people consumed Psilocybe mexicana and other species[*].
These types of psychedelic mushrooms are also different compared to those cultures with an even older history of mushroom use. For instance, in the desert of Algeria, there is some evidence of people using the species Psilocybe maireri[*], 7,000-,9,000 years ago, while in Spain there is a cave mural (6,000 years old) that indicates people in the region were using Psilocybe hispanica[*].
Some types of magic mushrooms are native to a particular region, a topic we will explore in more detail later in the article.
The Different Types of Psilocybin Mushrooms
You will have noticed that the types of psychedelic mushrooms mentioned so far are referred to as Psilocybe, followed by a different term. Psilocybe is a genus belonging to the family Hymenogastraceae (a broader category of fungi).
Genus is a way of specifically categorizing types of mushrooms. A species of Psilocybe is a specific type of mushroom belonging to this genus. Psilocybe cubensis, for example, is one common such species.
Nearly all mushroom species belonging to the genus Psilocybe contain the psychedelic compounds psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin (similar in structure to psilocin).
However, it is not the only genus of psilocybin-containing mushroom. There are other types, too, as we shall see. All of these types of psychedelic mushrooms, though, are known as psilocybin mushrooms.
When it comes to psilocybin mushrooms, psilocin is one of the psychoactive chemicals. It leads to psychedelic effects. Psilocybin, in contrast, is inactive. It only becomes psychoactive when ingested and the body converts it into psilocin.
Psilocin, as a chemical, is structurally similar to the brain chemical serotonin[*]. For this reason, it has a high affinity for serotonin receptors in the brain, meaning it has a strong tendency to bind to them, especially the 5HT2A type of serotonin receptor. It’s through this binding that psilocybin mushrooms achieve their psychedelic effects.
Different Types of Psilocybin Mushrooms
There are over 180 species of psilocybin mushroom, found in many countries all over the world[*]. The different genera of psilocybin mushrooms and the number of species found in each are as follows:
- Psilocybe (117 species)
- Gymnopolis (13 species)
- Copelandia (12 species)
- Panaeolus (7 species)
- Hypholoma (6 species)
- Pluteus (6 species)
- Inocybe (6 species)
- Cynocybe (4 species)
Common Types of Psychedelic Mushroom
The Psilocybe genus, then, contains the largest number of psilocybin mushroom species. This genus also includes some of the most well-known and commonly used types of psychedelic mushrooms. This includes the following species:
- Psilocybe aztecorum (this may have been one of the types of psychedelic mushrooms that the Aztecs referred to as teonanácatl, meaning “flesh of the gods”)
- Psilocybe azurescens (first identified and named by the mycologist Paul Stamets)
- Psilocybe baeocystis (also known as bottle caps)
- Psilocybe cubensis (also known as shrooms, magic mushrooms, golden tops, cubes, or gold tops. It is the most well-known type of psychedelic mushroom. There are also popular, specific strain of Psilocybe cubensis, such as Golden Teacher mushrooms and Penis Envy mushrooms)
- Psilocybe cyanescens (also known as wavy caps, this species of psychedelic mushroom can sometimes grow in massive quantities in the wild)
- Psilocybe hispanica (used by many young people in Spain for its mind-altering effects[*])
- Psilocybe mexicana (it was from this species that the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann first isolated the chemicals psilocybin and psilocin[*]. The Aztecs also referred to this mushroom as “flesh of the gods”)
- Psilocybe pelliculosa
- Psilocybe semilanceata (also known as the liberty cap mushroom, based on its distinctive bell-shaped cap)
- Psilocybe tampanensis
But, some of the types of psychedelic mushrooms in the other genera are quite well-known and popular as well. They include:
- Panaeolus cyanescens (also known as Copelandia cyanescens)
- Panaeolus tropicalis
- Panaeolus cinctulus (also known as the banded mottlegill or weed Panaeolus
- Pluteus salicinus (known as ‘Knackers Crumpet’ in the North of England)
- Inocybe aeruginascens (this is one of only two known natural sources of aeruguinascin, a compound that has been referred to as “the CBD of psilocybin mushrooms”, based on its ability to reduce the negative aspects of a trip[*])
A Unique Type of Psychedelic Mushroom: Fly Agaric and Related Species
One of the most recognizable types of psychedelic mushrooms is the species Amanita muscaria (also known as fly agaric or fly amanita). It is iconic for having a red cap with white spots. The species belongs to the genus Amanita.
This genus includes some 600 species, which include some of the most toxic mushrooms in the world. Amanita mushrooms, also known as toadstool mushrooms, are responsible for 95% of fatalities resulting from mushroom poisoning[*].
Amanita muscaria may be classed as poisonous, but deaths related to it are extremely rare[*].
Fly Agaric Contains the Psychedelic Muscimol
Fly agaric is a type of psychedelic mushroom, but it does not contain psilocybin, psilocin, or baeocystin as psilocybin mushrooms do. Its main psychoactive compounds are ibotenic acid, muscimol, and muscazone, with trace amounts of muscarine. When you consume fly agaric, your body converts ibotenic acid into muscimol. Muscimol is the more potent psychoactive compound of the two.
Structurally, muscimol is very different from psilocybin and psilocin. The latter are psychedelic tryptamines and act on the serotonin receptors. Muscimol is a naturally-occurring psychedelic chemical, like psilocybin, but it is found in far fewer species of mushrooms, in contrast.
Also, due to its different chemical structure, muscimol does not act on the serotonin receptors in the brain. Instead, it binds to the GABA receptors. Ibotenic acid also affects the GABA receptors indirectly by converting into muscimol. The ibotenic acid that doesn’t convert into muscimol binds to the glutamate receptors in the brain. It is structurally similar to the brain receptor glutamate.
Muscimol Has a Range of Effects
Muscimol results in psychedelic effects, but due to its unique structure and effects on the brain, it can also result in the following effects:
- Depressant (it reduces arousal or stimulation)
- Sedative-hypnotic (it induces sedation and sleepiness)
- Dissociative (it produces feelings of detachment from one’s environment and self)
- Deliriant (characterized by stupor, agitation, confusion, and realistic hallucinations)
- Stimulation (as well as having sedating effects, muscimol can also lead to feelings of increased energy and stimulation)
Physical Effects of Muscimol
As well as these sort of psychoactive effects, fly agaric is also known to result in:
- Watery eyes
- Runny rose
- Increased saliva production
- Lack of co-ordination
- Lower heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
Some of the unpleasant physical effects of fly agaric occur because both muscimol and ibotenic acid are toxins. However, it’s worth pointing out that they are less toxic than generally assumed[*].
The indigenous shamans of Eastern Siberia have traditionally used fly agaric for its hallucinogenic effects[*]. Explorers have studied the Koryak tribe of Kamchatka, a peninsula in the Russian Far East, and found they eat the mushroom, causing a drunken stupor and auditory hallucinations.
Since muscimol remains in urine, other members of the tribe would consume the urine of the shaman after he ingested fly agaric. If an intoxicated individual relieves himself in the snow, deer are known to eat the snow and also become intoxicated.
Close Relatives of Fly Agaric
Close relatives of fly agaric include the species:
- Amanita pantherina
- Amanita gemmata
- Amanita farinosa
- Amanita xanthocephala
Psychedelic Mushrooms Differ in Potency
Not all types of psychedelic mushrooms have the same or similar potency. In fact, some types of psychedelic mushrooms are known to be highly potent, whereas others are quite weak. This is important to keep in mind. It means that you could consume a moderate dose of one type of psychedelic mushroom, which, in terms of the same weight, would be a strong dose of another mushroom.
Highly Potent Psychedelic Mushrooms
Types of psychedelic mushrooms with a high concentration of psilocybin and/or psilocin include[*]:
- Psilocybe azurascens (considered the most potent type of psychedelic mushroom, it contains an average of 1.78% psilocybin and 0.38% psilocin)
- Psilocybe bohemica (1.34% psilocybin and 0.11% psilocin)
- Psilocybe semilanceata (0.98% psilocybin and 0.02% psilocin)
- Psilocybe baeocystis (0.85% psilocybin and 0.59% psilocin)
- Psilocybe cyanescens (0.85% psilocybin and 0.36% psilocin)
Low Potency Psychedelic Mushrooms
Types of psychedelic mushrooms with a relatively low concentration of psilocybin and psilocin include[*]:
- Psilocybe stuntzii (0.36% psilocybin and 0.12% psilocin)
- Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa (0.21% psilocybin and 0.04% psilocin)
Where Different Types of Psychedelic Mushrooms Are Located
Some types of psychedelic mushrooms grow in specific locations, while you can find others scattered in a number of different continents and countries.
Types of Psychedelic Mushrooms That Grow in a Specific Location
The species of psychedelic mushrooms that you will find in a specific continent, country, or region include the following:
- Psilocybe aztecorum (located in the high mountains of central Mexico)
- Psilocybe azurescens (located in a small area of the West Coast of the US)
- Psilocybe baeocystis (located throughout the Pacific Northwest)
- Psilocybe hispanica (located in a specific region in Aragon, Spain)
- Psilocybe pelliculosa (located in the Pacific Northwest)
- Inocybe aeruginascens (located in central Europe)
Types of Psychedelic Mushrooms That Grow in Multiple Locations
The species of psychedelic mushrooms that you will find in more than one continent, country, or region include the following:
- Psilocybe cubensis (located in the US, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, India, and Australia)
- Psilocybe cyanescens (located in the Pacific Northwest, Western Europe, Central Europe, New Zealand, and parts of Asia)
- Psilocybe mexicana (located in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala)
- Psilocybe semilanceata (located throughout Europe, as well as in Pakistan)
- Panaeolus cyanescens (located throughout the world)
- Panaeolus tropicalis (located in Hawaii, Central Africa, Cambodia, Mexico, Tanzania, the Philippines, Florida, and Japan)
- Panaeolus cinctulus (located throughout the world)
- Amanita muscaria (located throughout the Northern Hemisphere)
The Planet is Abundant With Psychedelic Mushrooms
As you can see, the world is full of different types of psychedelics mushrooms. All over the world, you can find a type of mushroom that, if taken at the right dosage, will result in a psychedelic experience.
The type of psychedelic mushroom most abundant on the planet is the psilocybin-containing mushroom, which includes a wide variety of species. These are the mushrooms that most people tend to use when deciding to have a mushroom experience.