Psilocybe semilanceata

The notorious Magic Mushroom

Well I suppose at some stage I would had to do a feature on this mushroom. A select few people I meet often presume that as a mushroom hunter, I only go looking for this particular species. Well that’s just not so – I was in the right place at the right time as I stumbled across these bad boys. Simply observed for identification reasons – honestly officer!

Psilocybe semilanceataThe Magic Mushroom or Liberty Cap (Psilocybe semilanceata) is the most notorious of all the hallucinogenic mushrooms (of which there are many), this being one of the most common and potent!

It contains a chemical cocktail of psychoactive ingredients, most notably ‘psilocybin’ (hence Psilocybe) which is a naturally produced psychedelic compound, and is the main active substance. Ingestion of several mushrooms, whether eaten fresh, dried or powdered and added to food etc, can produce a variety of ‘psychedelic’ experiences similar to those produced by LSD. Since 2005 it has been made illegal to be in possession of this mushroom (in whatever form) and is labelled as a Class A drug – so there you go.

The mycelium (the vegetative part of the fungus) feeds on the decaying matter of grass roots, so they are very at home scattered in pastures, lawns (sometimes parks), grassy roadsides and paths.

The first thing to note is that the cap of the mushroom is hygrophanous, meaning it will change colour depending on how much moisture it retains. In wet conditions the colour will be yellowish-brown / brown with a slight olive tinge. It has a glutinous viscid layer which can be delicately removed. As it drys out the colour fades to pale buff or whitish with a dark spore stained edge.

But the small conical cap remains a similar shape throughout these changes. It is elongate with striate markings (more noticeable when moist) with a distinctive small bump at the very top (umbo).

The thin white/creamy coloured stem (sometimes with darker yellowish hues) is relatively long compared to the cap size, and can grow up to 7 or 8cm high. Sometimes you may notice a blueish tinge at the very base. The gills are pale creamy-grey at first, but as the mushroom matures they become a dark purple-brown.

I’m not at liberty to say where I found these (or where to find others for that matter) as I was on a private reserve where I had permission to study. So please no questions about that on the blog or via email, thanks.

There are plenty around at the moment, but be aware that they’re just for looking at …right folks?

Before I sign off, I’ve selected a few good links on the amazingly enormous subject of Magic Mushrooms, covering their history in culture and beneficial medicinal research:

Magic Mushroom

Psilocybe semilanceata or Magic Mushroom is hygrophanous and drys to a pale buff colour.

QUICK ID TABLE: MAGIC MUSHROOM / LIBERTY CAP Psilocybe semilanceata

CAP / FLESH

0.5-1.5cm across. Elongated conical shape with pointed bump (umbo). Yellow-Brown / Brown with olive hue. Drying to pale buff.

STEM

3-8cm x 0.1-0.2cm. Pale whitish/cream often with yellowish hues. Sometimes with purple tinge at base.

GILLS / SPORE PRINT

Pale clay/creamy-grey maturing to dark purple-brown.
Spore Print: Dark purpleish-brown (see how to take a spore print here).

HABITAT / SEASON

Pasture, garden, grassy roadsides and paths. Common in late summer to autumn.

EDIBILITY

Hallucinogenic. Illegal to be in possession of.

107 replies
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      They’re usually later in the summer season, but sometimes appear throughout all the summer months (although in smaller numbers) after good rain fall.

      Reply
    • Danny McGovern
      Danny McGovern says:

      You always get them between September to November. I can smell them sometimes I did last week I the smell takes me back to when I first took them. The only acid that comes near their intensity is the microdots that were about in the 90’s. You get outstanding colours and mad visuals. I once saw rainbows shooting off a full moon.

      Reply
    • Shefton Mcnally
      Shefton Mcnally says:

      Hello me mukka, I live in Birmingham UK and I’m 46 years old and ever since I was 15 years old I have always gone magic mushroom picking from the beginning of September until the end of October, and I have always had good results picking the magic mushrooms on a golf course 5 mins walk from where I live, so from my experience no you can’t find them anytime before September but you never know.

      Reply
  1. Ethan burnard
    Ethan burnard says:

    Where can you find these in England/Cumbria? I hunt for mushrooms and want to know what they look like and where to find them, just in case I pick one by accident. Please send some pics and info. Thanks.

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      They’re widespread all over the UK in pasture land and grassy areas. November being a good time especially after rain. It’s best to do an image search of the mushroom to see more pictures, as I don’t have many examples. All the information on it’s looks are in the post or visit wikipedia for more detail.

      Thanks
      John

      Reply
        • J C Harris
          J C Harris says:

          To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think there are any dangerously poisonous look-a-likes. I had read in a mycology magazine that there were American species (accidentally brought across) that looked similar and were poisonous, but for the life of me I can’t find the info again! I doubt very much they are in abundance or widespread. Just be careful in identifying all elements of the Liberty Cap to be 100% sure.

          Reply
        • J C Harris
          J C Harris says:

          Good question. There a many other species and some have different effects beyond psychedelic experience. I have not looked into this, so I can’t offer an knowledgeable opinion. My rule is that I treat each new find (on all species) with the same thorough identification check list, until I’m 100% happy. Some Psilocybes could make you very unwell.

          Reply
        • funkleton
          funkleton says:

          The blue bruising / staining of P.semilanceata is difficult – if not impossible to notice – so you’re better off becoming familiar with identifying the species by sight – it’s pretty easy once you get your eye in.
          The only other blue staining psychedelic mushroom native the to UK is Psilocybe cyanescens (cut them up on a white board or piece of paper and the blue staining is quite vivid).
          However excercise caution with P.cyanescens – they are VERY potent and contain both psilocybin and psilocin (an analoge of DMT) so they aren’t for the feint of heart (or mind) and slow and careful testing of dosages is essential.

          Reply
          • J C Harris
            J C Harris says:

            Thanks for the info there ‘Funkleton’. No P.cyanescens grow round our way (or I can’t find them) so that’s useful info to have. I agree about the blue staining comment too regarding P.semilanceata – it isn’t a reliable identification trait and hard to spot.

            Reply
          • Antony
            Antony says:

            I live in bath were is the best place to pick them? I last picked them 20years ago in Tintern but with lockdown don’t think its a good idea.

            Reply
    • Mandell
      Mandell says:

      Lots of amateurs have their theories as to what conditions are important: altitude, SW facing, length of grass, animal pasture etc. etc. It is fundamentally just about luck.

      Reply
      • J C Harris
        J C Harris says:

        Yes, there are many theories. One report was that someone always found them on one side of this grassy hill (west side). I’m thinking that the fungus was simply staying moist (out of direct sunlight) for as long as possible. That implies some clever thinking from the mycelium! Weird? or just coincidence?

        Reply
        • Sy
          Sy says:

          The Mycelium do favour certain conditions, but with the change of the climate I think it really will be a mixture of knowledge and luck {-_-}
          I’m going to have a look soon.
          If I fail, at least it was good exercise! :D

          Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Raymond (and all who may want to know)
      I do not have any information regarding the locations or whereabouts of where Liberty Cap’s will be. I’ve had an overload of requests, and although I appreciate you’re interest, I must have to stop replying and ask others not to request via a comment. I can not assist in this matter.
      Thanks for understanding.
      John

      Reply
      • Felicity Martin
        Felicity Martin says:

        There is now considerable interest in this mushroom, or synthetic derivatives for treatment of non-responsive clinical depression and post traumatic stress disorder. It has been found to work in significant numbers of cases where some of the antidepressants have failed, without significant ongoing side effects, unlike many antidepressants.

        Reply
    • Scott Preston
      Scott Preston says:

      Almost every cow field and there’s plenty of them in Cumbria as I’m from Kendal and that’s where I picked in my youth lots of great memories recent research suggests that the magic mushroom can help with depression and anxiety they should be more studies into this because I believe my mental health is excellent having had mushrooms

      Reply
    • JB
      JB says:

      Frenchfield, Carleton, Penrith…. Not far from Cumbria Police HQ! Seriously…. so don’t get caught….

      Reply
  2. lee
    lee says:

    27 Oct – will I find any Psilocybe specials in this month? I read before first frost, please help. I don’t wish to walk for note

    Reply
      • Chris 444
        Chris 444 says:

        With this years season almost upon us, I can tell you that the Wye Valley along the England/Wales border is where an abundance of these beauties can be found. There is also the added bonus of the area being one of the most beautiful locations in the UK.

        Reply
        • BG
          BG says:

          Hey I’ve found some mushrooms that look a bit like liberty caps and I’m not too sure if they are or aren’t, would I be able to send someone the pictures and they confirm for me?

          Reply
          • T
            T says:

            If thats a genuine enquiry. Try the common between stroud and nailsworth as has always been kind.
            Or if more forest of dean area try common by cinderford (i think thats the name not so familiar with that area. If your further north near hfdshire its worth going to the shrop hills or areas around as they are loaded when the season is in full flow.

            Reply
    • Ajmal
      Ajmal says:

      Get out and have a walk!
      Some fresh air and a nice wander around several fields and parks will do you good, whether or not you find what you’re looking for.

      Reply
    • Larn
      Larn says:

      I always waited for the first frost and then went out picking – had areas of glorious abundance near me in Hertfordshire back in the 80s and 90s but those sites no longer produce, would love to find some more as just a few on a Friday night was such fun. I agree with the depression study – our brains can confine us in the mundane, mushrooms taken well can help us to be more free and laugh….a lot.

      Reply
      • AnyonymousguysorryXD
        AnyonymousguysorryXD says:

        U should go before the first frost if the first frost is cold enough it will kill them all but i know from experience they can survive small frosts and it sometimes kickstarts them. Ive even found them a couple days after a field was under a foot of snow lol

        Reply
  3. Disco Stu
    Disco Stu says:

    Pendle hills a good Lancashire spot. I saw sporadic clusters up there 2nd week in August. They will be in full swing now. The peaty soil and sheep crap works wonders a natural nitrate fertilizer. I used to pick in Skelmersdale on the Golf course there but the owners stopped using nitrate based fertilizers and added fungicides to the sprinklers. Wiped em all out.

    Reply
    • Rich
      Rich says:

      Yes sheep crap and peaty soil works well,used to pick them at fox house in sheffield on the moors in the ninetys! Three of us picked 1000 there once!🤪

      Reply
    • Charlie
      Charlie says:

      You got any exact areas of the thicket such as forest or grass areas? I live in Portsmouth went hunting today with no luck.

      Reply
  4. Codrina Moldovan
    Codrina Moldovan says:

    Hello. Can they grow in a forest? I found some that look very much alike, but i found them in a forest. I can send some photos

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Hi Codrina
      No, they are always associated with grass – lawns, pasture etc. It may be a Panaeolus or Psathyrella species. Visit my contact page if you wish to send some images. Thanks
      John

      Reply
  5. Dave
    Dave says:

    I found this site trying to find the best time to go, it’s something that’s bugged me for years. There’s the classic old wives tale of “Needs a Full Moon”, which doesn’t sit right with me. I think they need more darkness.

    It’s been warm this year, through and summer and still it is now.

    I go every year and I don’t have many left from last years haulage, so I need to top up badly before the first heavy frost comes (which kills them).

    I went out around 8pm to the shop a couple of days ago and had a good torch with me (I never go in the dark) just to check if I could see some. I actually found 3 in the pitch black :)

    I went out the following morning 7am after I found the 3 the night before but it was too cold. It was a very very mild frost and my trainers got filled with ice water and I couldn’t take it no more. I did find a couple but it was like picking half thawed.

    From what I can gather it was pretty chilly that night around 12am, maybe it’s too cold for them to appear. Tonight however is going to be milder and will take a good look around tomorow morning.

    Reply
    • Disco Stu
      Disco Stu says:

      I collected around a 100 on Saturday and a similar amount today off Pendle. Weve not had any real frost recently. Had a few frosty nights early in the month though. It was more abundant in September but they are still growing now.

      Reply
    • John Cutts
      John Cutts says:

      When in season I can tell you from experience that after a full moon I went picking just by chance and have never seen so many mushrooms ever-growing, it was as if the moon drew them out of the ground

      Reply
  6. Susan Watherston
    Susan Watherston says:

    In my younger days we use to gather lots from sewerby golf course just outside of bridlington on the east coast. Good times

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      I believe so Omar.
      They are regarded as the world’s most widespread psilocybin mushroom; very common throughout Europe – including Italy, but I would say, in the more northern regions. Wait until autumn to venture out for them.
      John

      Reply
  7. O.R.Moseley
    O.R.Moseley says:

    Say you were to come across some of these. How many would you typically take in one dose for a medium/strong trip?

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Well, I’m not supposed to say! But if they were legal here, it would be 15-20 mushrooms for mild effect, and because everyone’s reactions and experiences differ, I would use this as a base counter and increase gradually for the preferred effect – But obviously this isn’t allowed here – is it!?

      Reply
  8. Daniel Shields
    Daniel Shields says:

    Thank you for sharing and spreading awareness! I hope that this magical plant would not be abused and misused. Everything, if used properly and moderately proves to be beneficial. I hope this could be the future treatment of a lot of diseases. It has endless capabilities!

    Reply
  9. Alastair Baxter
    Alastair Baxter says:

    I found some under a log at the edge of a stream looks very like the liberties but doesn’t have the little nipple on the top so they all need to have the bump at the top I have pictures

    Reply
  10. Ash
    Ash says:

    Hi guys, I’m just curious about the colour variation of these.
    From what I gather they can range from a greyish white to darker brown as they age, however me and a friend have found what appear to be some but in redish brown.
    The other check points are there, thin slightly wavey stem, inverted fringe on the cap with the occasional nipple here and there.

    Reply
  11. John Treth
    John Treth says:

    Great website I’m always walking the dog and interesting to try and identify some of the mushrooms I see along the way. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  12. Arron
    Arron says:

    I think I’ve found some but I’m in sure because the nipple on the top isn’t very prominent , is their a way I can show a pic here so I can find out ?

    Reply
  13. Col
    Col says:

    I suffer with cluster headaches and mushrooms seem to be the best treatment any info on which are most effective?

    Reply
  14. Jaiza
    Jaiza says:

    I live in West Scotland plenty of hills around me and rain would I possibly find them in July after good rain fall?

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      Where’s there’s good pasture that hasn’t been interfered with and soon after rain, there is a possibility – but the earliest I’ve found Magic Mushrooms is around mid-August. But you never know!

      Reply
  15. Deborah Smith
    Deborah Smith says:

    It is indeed magic mushrooms have a lot of benefits as long as we use it in a proper way. It can also used for medical purposes. I do hope that people who are using or taking magic mushrooms will use it properly to avoid any troubles.

    Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      I agree Deborah. Used in the proper way, they can be a benefit. More research and awareness should be made on this subject rather than making them illegal.

      Reply
  16. Steven Rob
    Steven Rob says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. I was not aware that the environmental conditions can even change the physical attributes of the mushroom. This was quite informative. Do you think it is going to impact the overall benefits that the mushrooms provide?

    Reply
  17. BimBomb
    BimBomb says:

    Picking mushrooms in the past, ive always just pulled them up, but I wonder if this damages the mycelium. Is it better to cut the stem with a sharp blade? My fields are never good two years in a row. Does anyone know about this? Someone told me I should flick the cap as soon as I pick it, to help spread the spores. (Maybe Ive just been over picking :$)

    Reply
    • BimBomb
      BimBomb says:

      Also… is it possible to share pictures on this forum?
      I found a bunch of mushrooms recently that I’m 95% sure aren’t liberty caps, but have some extremely similar features, but I still haven’t been able to identify their true species, using the available online field guides.

      Reply
    • J C Harris
      J C Harris says:

      It’s best to cut the stem as the mycelium can be damaged. Usually, taking out the entire mushroom is for research/ID purposes while trying not to damage the mycelium too much. Leaving a few around, and not picking all of them helps with the dispersal of spores.

      Reply
      • John chattey
        John chattey says:

        Hi mate great article I found something that look magic but a friend says they are haymakers I will send you through some pics.

        Reply
  18. stuart
    stuart says:

    Liberty Caps have just started to pop-up in some of the Royal parks in London!!! ain’t going to say exactly where ‘coz i’ve been searching the parks for two years without luck, did loads of research didn’t get anywhere. Went for a stroll earlier in the week and stumbled across loads. Happy days!

    Reply
  19. Denny johnson
    Denny johnson says:

    Hi can u pick them all day or do u have to go early like 6am? I heard they go bsck down in the day but is this a myth?

    Reply
  20. Fluffmushroom
    Fluffmushroom says:

    Hey,

    I’ve collected a fair few today and just lacking the certainty I’d like with identifying. Some help would be appreciated if I could describe well enough..

    The colour of the stipe /stem is mostly white but also tinged in rufous. Some of the older ones have a almost all white head with black gills. They smell earthy and then some seem to have deteriorated so the skin in transparent. Are these sounding similar. I’m almost certain they are. Also wondering if there is difference in potency with the age of the mushroom and which parts.. does the stem contain psilocybin as much as the cap?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  21. J C Harris
    J C Harris says:

    Does sound close. Does it have the ‘nipple’ on the top of the cap? Good question about the potency. It keeps with age because they can be dried. But to be honest, I’m not sure if the stem and cap share the same levels. Usually the whole mushroom is kept when dried anyway.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] so you leave the base of the stem, the mycelium from which mushrooms grow, in the ground, UK Liberty Cap, our native UK ‘magic mushroom’ and its legal status, Magic Mushrooms consumed by man as part of religious and spiritual rites from bronze age and […]

  2. […] to ingest Amanita muscaria (in most countries), but illegal to ingest or have in your possession Magic mushrooms (Psilocybe semilanceata) in most countries too (in the UK Psilocybe semilanceata is a Class A drug). But if you do find any […]

  3. […] to ingest Amanita muscaria (in most countries), but illegal to ingest or have in your possession Magic mushrooms (Psilocybe semilanceata) in most countries as well (in the UK at least Psilocybe semilanceata is a Class A drug). But if you […]

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