strains of psychedelic mushrooms

Guide to Magic Mushroom Strains

Approximately 14,000 mushroom species have been described around the world today. Of these 14,000, just over 180 of these mushrooms are psychoactive (that is, contain psilocybin). In this article, we’ll highlight the most common magic mushroom strains and species. As we’ll see, each species differs significantly in its appearance, distribution, habitat, potency, and potential dangers.

What are Magic Mushroom Strains?

By and large, the majority of psilocybin mushroom species are concentrated in the Psilocybe genus, which contains approximately 117 species. Psilocybin mushrooms are also found in several other genera, including:

  • Gymnopilus (13 species)
  • Panaeolus (7 species)
  • Copelandia (12 species)
  • Hypholoma (6 species)
  • Pluteus (6 species)
  • Inocybe (6 species)
  • Conocybe (4 species)
  • Agrocybe (1 species)
  • Galerina (1 species)
  • Mycena (1 species)

The magic mushrooms belonging to these genera are mostly found in tropical and subtropical fields and forests. Broadly speaking, they can be found on every inhabitable continent in a large variety of habitats, from the urban lawn to the most humid of jungles.

Each species will give rise to its own distinct shroom trip, due to its unique genetics and alkaloidal profile. Further, the potency can vary from batch to batch within the same species. This is partly due to differences in growing conditions. Taken together, all magic mushroom species contain varying levels of psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, and norbaeocystin.

Mycologists have characterized and genetically isolated hundreds of subspecies, or “strains.” Most magic mushroom strains are different varieties of Psilocybe cubensis, the so-called “commercial Psilocybe.” This is because P. cubensis is by far the most commonly cultivated species. As a result, dozens of unique strains have come about over the years. Many psychonauts claim that “a cube is a cube” in terms of their effects. However, these strains can vary in their potency, appearance, growing requirements, and overall yields.

Most Popular Magic Mushroom Strains

In this section, we will overview the most popular magic mushroom strains and species, with a particular focus on Psilocybe species.

Panaeolus cyanescens (Blue Meanies)

Also known as Copelandia cyanescens, Panaeolus cyanescens is a potent psilocybin mushroom originating in Asia. In addition to the moniker of Blue Meanies, they’re also known as Hawaiian magic mushrooms. This is because they grow abundantly on the island as a result of frequent rain and habitable cattle pastures.


P. cyanescens has a convex cap that’s initially light brown, lightening to gray or off-white at maturity. The center of the cap remains yellowish-brown into old age. The pale-yellowish stem is 8.5–11.5 cm long. Like many Psilocybe species, both the stem and flesh bruise bluish because of its high psilocin content.

Where It’s Grown

Similar to P. cubensis, P. cyanescens is a dung-loving species that is found in pastures and fields. In the United States, P. cyanescens grows in California, Hawaii, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. Worldwide, it is found in tropical and subtropical regions, including Mexico, Central Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Central Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Common Effects and Strength

According to the mycologist Paul Stamets in his book Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, Panaeolus cyanescens is considered “moderately potent.” One study from 1992 analyzed the psilocybin and psilocin content of P. cyanescens gathered from five locations around the world. It found, on average, 0.012–0.73% psilocybin and 0.025–1.30% psilocin. This mushroom produces a strongly visual trip with deep euphoria and a clear head space.

Potential Dangers

Frequent use has been reported to cause a painful red rash around the neck, possibly from the urea content. In addition, large doses may result in loss of voluntary muscle function, which can produce panic in some users.

Psilocybe cubensis (Cubes)

Psilocybe cubensis, known commonly as cubes and gold cap shrooms, is the most well-known psilocybin-containing mushroom. The species was originally discovered in Cuba and later popularized by Terence McKenna, who called it the “starborn magic mushroom.” Dozens of P. cubensis strains are marketed today. Some of the most popular include B+, Golden Teachers, and Penis Envy.


P. cubensis has a reddish-brown cap that is convex and bulbous when young. The cap becomes flat with age and lightens to a light brown color. The stems can grow up to 20 cm (8 inches) long, making it the largest psilocybe species. Like the cap, the stem will bruise bluish when injured.

Where It’s Grown

P. cubensis is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It’s found in the southeastern United States growing on the dung of cattle and also in well-manured land. Around the world, it’s found in Central and South America, Mexico, Cuba, and parts of Asia and Australia. Since it’s forgiving of suboptimal growing conditions and gives great yields, it is the most commonly cultivated psilocybin mushroom.

Common Effects and Strength

Cubes are moderately potent, containing 0.14–0.42% psilocin and 0.37–1.30% psilocybin in the whole mushroom. Regardless of the specific magic mushroom strain, it can generate a full-spectrum psilocybin experience consisting of synesthesia, time distortion, closed and open eye visuals, euphoria, and heightened emotions.

Potential Dangers

As is true for all other Psilocybes, set and setting is paramount to a good experience with gold caps. Also, although the spores are legal for “microscopy purposes,” cultivating your own cubes may carry significant legal risks.

Psilocybe azurescens (Flying Saucer)

Also known as Flying Saucers or Azzies, P. azurescens is the strongest psilocybin-containing mushroom that grows in the wild. Reportedly, the species was first found by Boy Scouts while they were camping in Oregon in 1979. It was formally discovered and named by Paul Stamets.


P. azurescens has a caramel-colored cap that’s initially convex but expands to be flat with age. In the middle of the cap is a pronounced nipple-like umbo. Its white stem can grow to be up to 20 cm long, making it one of the largest Psilocybes. Another indicator you’re in the presence of P. azurescens is its very strong bluing reaction. The flesh will bruise a very dark bluish-black when damaged.

Where It’s Grown

While commonly cultivated in many parts of the world, you can find “Azzies” in the wild on the west coast of the United States. This includes parts of Oregon, Washington, and northern California. They’re particularly widespread along the northern Oregon coast near Astoria. Their preferred habitats are decaying wood chips, dune grasses, and sandy coastal soils. Being fairly temperature resistant, they’ll start fruiting in late September and can be found as late as January.

Common Effects and Strength

P. azurescens is extremely potent, up to three times as potent as P. cubensis. According to Stamets, it contains up to 1.78% psilocybin, .38% psilocin and .35% baeocystin. Owing to its high levels of psilocybin, they’re known to retain potency for long periods of time, even after months of storage. In terms of effects, just one dried gram can be an intense entheogenic experience. For this reason, it is a popular microdosing species because so little is needed for the benefits.

Potential Dangers

P. azurescens is known to have the undesirable side effect of creating temporary paralysis. This effect can last into the next day, which may cause anxiety and paranoia. It’s best to start with a low dose to gauge Azzie’s effects, or you may be in for an unexpectedly intense experience. In Michael Pollan’s book How to Change Your Mind, Stamets tells Pollan, “I find azzies almost too strong.”

Psilocybe caerulescens (Landslide Mushrooms)

In 1923, Landslide Mushrooms (known as derrumbe in Spanish) were first discovered growing on sugarcane mulch near Montgomery, Alabama. However, the human use of these shrooms extends far back beyond the 20th century. This species was used by the Aztecs for its entheogenic effects, and more recently by the Mazatec in southern Mexico. P. caerulescens was the magic mushroom strain given to R. Gordon Wasson by the famous Mazatec shaman Maria Sabina, an experience he later wrote about in Life Magazine.


P. caerulescens has a convex cap that can vary in color from yellowish-brown to reddish-brown. Its cap color lightens around the margins. In addition to its bluing reaction, it has a unique silvery-blue metallic luster that can help in its identification. These mushrooms are on the shorter side, with a stem between 4–12 cm long.

Where It’s Grown

In the United States, you can find this mushroom in southern states like Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. It also grows throughout central regions of Mexico, Venezuela, and Brazil. The mushrooms usually fruit in clusters from late spring to early summer. They typically prefer soil with woody debris, where there aren’t any plants around.

Common Effects and Strength

Landslide mushrooms have a low-to-moderate potency, making them an ideal species for unseasoned mushroom voyagers. The main effects typically last 3–6 hours and produce euphoria, open and closed eye visuals, time distortion, and altered perspective.

Potential Dangers

Like other Psilocybes, this species has the potential to create negative effects such as panic attacks, paranoia, anxiety, and nausea. Despite its lower-than-average potency, set and setting still very much determines the trip quality.

Psilocybe caerulipes (Blue Foot Mushroom)

P. caerulipes is widely distributed, but is still considered a rare psilocybin mushroom. It is known commonly as the Blue Foot mushroom because of the bluish hues at the base of its stem. Although growers cultivate this species, the spores are reportedly difficult to acquire.


P. caerulipes is one of the smaller psilocybin mushrooms, with a stem length of only 3–6 cm. It has a cinnamon-brown cap that is convex to plane with a slight umbo. The flesh shows a mild bluing reaction which can take a few hours to appear.

Where It’s Grown

You can find this species in the midwestern and eastern US. It grows as far north as Nova Scotia, Canada, and as far south as North Carolina. It fruits from May to December in deciduous forests, usually around decaying hardwood logs and woody debris along river systems.

Common Effects and Strength

Although its small size may suggest otherwise, P. caerulipes is about as potent as the much larger P. cubensis. Its potency is known to vary widely among samples, so it’s best to start small—just 1–3 g could be a strong experience.

Potential Dangers

The potential dangers, apart from psychological precautions, are related to identification in the wild. These mushrooms can be confused with other LBMs, or “little brown mushrooms.” Some of the non-Psilocybe LBMs can be poisonous—or even deadly.

Psilocybe cyanescens (Wavy Caps)

P. Cyanescens, known commonly as Blue Halos and Cyans, is a potent psilocybin mushroom first described in the 20th century by a British mycologist named Elsie Maud Wakefield. The species name cyanescens means “turning blue,” indicating its strong bluing reaction.


This mushroom has an undulating cap margin, hence its common name. The cap is chestnut-brown when young, and becomes caramel-colored as it matures. The white stem is 2–8 cm long and bruises a deep bluish color.

Where It’s Grown

P. cyanescens grow abundantly in the Pacific Northwest, particularly in the fall or early winter when the temperatures drop to 50–65°F. Along the west coast, it grows as far south as San Francisco, and as far north as Alaska. Around the world, it grows in temperate regions of Europe, including the UK, Italy, Germany, Spain, and Sweden. In addition, you can find it in New Zealand and parts of West Asia.

This species grows in large clusters, preferring to feed on decomposing forest matter. It prefers wood chips, sawdust, and debris fields littered with rotting wood. According to Stamets, it also grows under mixed woods at the edges of lawns, along wood chip trails, and in heavily mulched gardens in urban areas.

Common Effects and Strength

P. cyanescens is highly potent; in fact, it’s commonly known as the “potent Psilocybe.” It has a maximum of 1.68% psilocybin and 0.28% psilocin. Many people report needing half the dosage of what they normally take of P. cubensis. “Cyans” produce a trip that is highly visionary, euphoric, and introspective.

Potential Dangers

There are some dangerous lookalikes that can make gathering in the wild risky without an experienced mycologist. This includes Pholiotina rugosa and Galerina marginata, both of which contain deadly amatoxins.

Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Caps)

The magic mushroom strain P. semilanceata is one of the most widely distributed Psilocybes. It is also responsible for one of the earliest recorded psilocybin mushroom trips. In 1799, a family in London accidentally prepared an entheogenic meal with mushrooms they’d collected in London’s Green Park.


Liberty Caps closely resemble both P. strictipes and P. mexicana. They have a bell-shaped cap with a pronounced umbo. The cap color ranges from chestnut brown (when moist) to light tan or yellow (when dry). Often, it has an olive tint that can help identify it. At just 4–10 cm long, the stem is small and slender. Both the stem and flesh rarely bruise bluish, since this species has low levels of psilocin.

Where It’s Grown

You can find this species growing alone or in tight groups in pastures, fields, lawns, and grassy areas in general. Rather than dung, this mushroom’s mycelium feeds off decaying grassroots. Liberty caps have a wide distribution, as they grow in at least 17 countries. On the west coast, you can find them growing from northern California to British Columbia, usually in the fall or early winter. In other parts of the world, they grow in temperate grassland habitats. You can find them distributed over a handful of European countries, Chile, northern India, and South Africa. P. semilenceata also grows in a few oceanic countries, including Australia and New Zealand.

Common Effects and Strength

Liberty Caps are highly potent—the 4th most potent entheogenic mushroom, according to Stamets, who did a potency analysis of 12 popular Psilocybes. The mycologist and chemist, Jochen Gartz, reported 1% psilocybin on average, with a range of .2–2.37%. Cultivated Liberty Caps have less psilocybin, up to 1.12%, and no psilocin. You can expect a full-fledged trip with Liberty Caps, including visual distortions and hallucinations, euphoria, and deep spiritual journeys.

Potential Dangers

To the untrained eye, P. semilanceata looks similar to several poisonous species—in particular, the deadly Galerina species, which can coexist in similar habitats. It also resembles Inocybe geiophylla, a toxic species that contains muscarine.

Psilocybe mexicana (Teonanacatl)

P. mexicana is a magic mushroom strain that has a deep history that dates back several millennia. The Aztecs used this species ceremonially before the Spanish conquered the empire. The Aztecs referred to them as teonanacatl, or “flesh of the gods.” In modern times, this was the species that Roger Heim, the French botanist, sent to Albert Hofmann, from which Hofmann then isolated and named the compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Today, they’re commonly known in Mexico as pajaritos, meaning “little birds.”


Stamets refer to this species as the “Mexicana liberty cap,” since it looks very similar to P. semilanceata. The bell-shaped cap often has rippled edges that fold inward toward the margins. The cap is brownish to deep orangish-brown, usually with a slight umbo. The hollow and pale yellow stem is 4–12.5 cm long. Like the flesh, it bruises bluish when injured.

Where It’s Grown

This species is found at high elevations (1000–1800m) in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Florida. It grows alone or in small groups, usually in humid meadows, moss, deciduous forests, and soils rich in manure. In the wild, it fruits from May to October, but it’s also easily cultivated indoors.

Common Effects and Strength

P. mexicana is considered moderately potent. It will produce a euphoric, light visual trip ideal for self-discovery. When Heim and Hofmann analyzed its potency, they detected 0.25% psilocybin and 0.15% psilocin. However, its potency is known to vary widely, depending on growing and storage conditions. This species also grows sclerotia (truffles), which are less potent than the mushrooms.

Potential Dangers

Like other Psilocybes, the main dangers in vulnerable individuals are psychological in nature. Avoid P. mexicana if you have a history of severe mental illness or are taking antidepressants.

Psilocybe stuntzii (Blue Ringer Mushroom)

P. stuntzii, also known as “Stuntz’s Blue Legs,” were named after the mycologist Daniel Stuntz. Stunz originally found this rare species growing on the University of Washington campus.


P. stuntzii can be identified from its whitish partial veil that bruises bluish, and its dark chestnut brown cap. The cap margin is sometimes spotted with an olive green tinge. The yellowish stem is 3–6 cm long and also bruises bluish.

Where It’s Grown

P. stuntzii is distributed mostly in the western region of the Pacific Northwest. This includes parts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, “within 90 kilometers of coastal regions,” according to Stamets. It fruits from late summer until first frost, but it can be spotted year-round in the Seattle area. It typically grows in big clusters in wood chips and bark mulch, as well as in soils rich in woody debris. According to Stamets, they also grow in newly placed lawns and fields, along roads, and in gardens.

Common Effects and Strength

P. stuntzii is considered weak to moderately potent, but it’s still capable of producing a typical psilocybin experience. In 1982, Beug and Bigwood reported a psilocybin content of 0–.36% psilocybin and psilocin content of 0-0.12%.

Potential Dangers

Take special care when collecting this species in the wild. P. stuntzii closely resembles the deadly poisonous Galerina marginata. Several inexperienced collectors were poisoned from mistaking P. stuntzii for this species. Galerina is differentiated by its orangish-brown cap and rusty brown spores.

Psilocybe tampanensis (Philosopher’s Stone, Magic Truffles)

The species name Psilocybe tampanensis reflects where it was originally discovered in the 1970s, near Tampa, Florida, by the American mycologist Steven Hayden Pollock. Interestingly, all cultivated P. tampanensis trace back to a single culture he formed from a wild specimen that he’d collected in Florida. This species produces the famous magic truffles from its underground sclerotia. These are sold legally in the Netherlands in specialty shops as a result of a legal loophole.


The yellow-brown cap is convex, expanding to be flat with maturity. The stem stands at just 2–6 cm tall, and bruises bluish. P. tampanensis has a taste and odor similar to freshly ground flour.

Where It’s Grown

P. tampanensis is a very rare psilocybin mushroom. This species has been collected in the wild only a few times, and so it survives through cultivation. It was originally found in Florida and later reported in Mississippi.

Common Effects and Strength

Philosopher’s Stone has a moderate potency, containing 0.68% psilocybin and 0.32% psilocin. The name aptly describes the effects, which are characterized by profound introspection, creative thinking, and philosophical insight. In terms of physical effects, it’s known for having a heavier body load and more nausea compared to other psilocybin mushrooms.

Potential Dangers

The potential dangers of Philosopher’s Stone apply to all magic mushroom strains: be mindful of set and setting, and do not use them if you are taking certain medications or have a severe mental illness.

Disclaimer: Psilocybin mushrooms strains are potentially categorized as an illegal drug. Reality Sandwich is not encouraging the use or making of this drug where it is prohibited. However, we believe that providing information is imperative for the safety of those who choose to explore this substance. This guide is intended to give educational content and should in no way be viewed as medical recommendations.

Contributing RS Author: Dylan Beard

Dylan is a freelance science writer and editor based in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. After finishing his physics degree and dabbling in neuroscience research at UC Santa Barbara in 2017, he returned to his first love—writing. As a long-term fan of the human brain, he loves exploring the latest research on psychedelics, nootropics, psychology, consciousness, meditation, and more. When not writing, you can probably find him on hiking trails around Oregon and Washington or listening to podcasts. Feel free to follow him on Insta @dylancb88

Are there different types of psilocybin? Read our guide to learn about the different magic mushroom strains and their individual effects.

Strains of psychedelic mushrooms

There are over 200 species of Psilocybe mushrooms, each possessing visually unique characteristics along with varying levels and ratios of three psychotropic compoundspsilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin. A few of the most prevalent species are P. azurescens, P. cyanescens, P. semilanceata, and P. cubensis (which is the most widely known and easily cultivated).

There are also hundreds of “strains” or “subspecies” which have been genetically isolated and classified by both professional mycologists and recreational enthusiasts. While taxonomically these strains are all considered members of their respective species (and most are P. cubensis), they too can differ drastically in appearance, conditions required for cultivation, and potency.

Common species

*Psilocybe cyanescens *Psilocybe cubensis *Psilocybe semilanceata

Common Strains

*Huaulta cubensis *Penis Envy cubensis *Golden Teacher cubensis

This introduction to mushroom strains and species may seem contradictory or confusing. That said, a useful analogy for understanding the differences can be drawn between Cannabis and Psilocybe mushrooms. The separation of cannabis species into indica, sativa, and ruderalis corresponds to the separation of Psilocybe species into azurescens, semilanceata, cubensis, etc. Meanwhile, the separation of cannabis strains like Northern Lights, Purple Kush, and Jack Haze corresponds to mushroom strains like Penis Envy, Golden Teacher, and Huaulta.

Unlike cannabis, where the crossing of genetics combines plant traits to create a new weed strain, mushroom strains often start with a desirable mutation, such as being albino or growing especially large mushrooms. These random mutations can be selected and cloned for several generations from the largest, healthiest mushrooms of each life cycle, to create a new strain in a process known as “isolation.”

The effects, duration, and onset of the psychoactive experience provided by different species and strains (along with many other variables) can differ quite drastically among shrooms. However, all members of the genus Psilocybe share a few key identifying factors that can aid in their identification.

  • They all bruise an azure-bluish color when handled or damaged, due to oxidation of the compound psilocin at the site of impact
  • They all have a thin gelatinous veil, known in mycological terms as a “pellicle,” that separates the cap (or pileus) from the stem (or stipe). In maturity, this veil often disintegrates, leaving a darkened section (annular zone) on the stem
  • They all have dense gills on the underside of the cap (or pileus) and a shiny or silky film on the outside of the cap
  • They all have a hygrophanous nature (meaning coloration changes with the state of hydration)

Psilocybin-Containing Shroom Species

The differing Psilocybe species have a much longer and more intensive taxonomical history than the relatively recent distinctions among strains. The first reliable documented case of Psilocybe intoxication occurred in 1799, when a man picked several semilanceata from the shores of the Thames River in London, and cooked a meal for his family with them. This surprise trip spurred the classification of a new species of mushroom, which was placed in the genus Agaricus, then moved to Psilocybe in 1871. For the purpose of remaining succinct, this article focuses on the four species most commonly found in North America.

P. semilanceata

P. semilanceatas, often referred to as “Liberty Caps,” are one of the most widespread, potent, and commonly-recognized members of the Psilocybe genus. They are easily distinguishable by their conical-bell-shaped cap which holds its shape throughout the life cycle, dissimilar to most other Psilocybe shrooms whose caps flatten in maturity. They are also, on average, smaller than other species, often with a thin, elongated, somewhat fragile-looking stem, and a spear-shaped cap from which the name “semilanceata” (meaning “spear-shaped” in Latin) comes from.

Testing done by mycologists Paul Stamets and Jochen Gartz placed Liberty Caps as the third most potent Psilocybe species, with an exceptionally high concentration of psilocybin, low concentration of psilocin, and moderate levels of baeocystin. The high concentration of psilocybin often leads to semilanceata mushrooms eliciting a very visual experience that also lasts longer than those of other species, due to the body having to break down this psilocybin into psilocin before the effects are felt.

P. cyanescens

P. cyanenscens are another prolific species of mushroom that can be found worldwide, but are thought to have originated in North America. They are distinctly more mycorrhizal than other species, meaning they require decaying wood in order to grow. This makes them more difficult to cultivate indoors, though that has not hindered their spread into every habitable continent.

Unlike many other organisms whose habitats have been encroached on by humans, these mushrooms are thought to share a symbiotic relationship with urbanization. They are commonly found on piles of ligneous debris or in mulched garden beds, and sometimes in enormous quantities exceeding 100,000 mushrooms in a single patch.

They can be identified by the undulating edges of their caps, and aside from this wavy cap, possess visual characteristics quite similar to P. cubensis — thick stems and caps that begin rounded or bell-shaped and flatten (sometimes even becoming convex) in maturity. Despite their visual similarity to P. cubensis, they are significantly more potent than their more common brethren, on average containing 30 to 60 percent more psilocybin, similar concentrations of baeocystin, and slightly less psilocin. The experience occasioned by taking P. cyanescens is mostly analogous to that of P. cubensis, though with notably intensified visuals (a result of higher psilocybin concentration).

P. azurescens

P. azurescens are the rarest, most potent, and most recently-discovered Psilocybe species. Similar to many other mushrooms, they were discovered by recreational mycology enthusiasts (a group of Boy Scouts, ironically enough). This potential to find an entirely new species is undoubtedly one of the attractive properties of mycology (the study of mushrooms) and exists whenever one embarks on a mushroom-hunting adventure.

To date, over 120,000 species of fungi have been discovered, and this number is constantly growing. Unlike other Psilocybe species, P. azurescens are only found in the Pacific Northwest region of North America and carry the highest concentration of psilocybin out of all members of the genus. Due to extremely high psilocybin levels, they produce vivid hallucinations, intense amplification of emotions, and sometimes even temporary paralysis.

P. cubensis

Generally when someone speaks about “magic mushrooms” or “shrooms,” they are referring to P. cubensis. The natural geographic range of this species is limited to tropical and sub-tropical regions, but they can be (relatively) easily cultivated indoors, making them the most popular and most easily accessible “magic mushrooms.” Many websites even offer mushroom grow kits, which are legal in many countries, as mushroom spores do not contain psilocybin. Other websites go even beyond the law to offer dried mushrooms and microdose capsules.

P. cubensis mushrooms often have thick, dense stems and large, broad caps. They also grow larger than most other species, although this is likely due to generations of genetic isolation. This species provides the classic psychoactive mushroom effects of euphoria, feelings of love and unity, introspection, philosophical ideation, synesthesia, visual augmentation, and a less ego-influenced perspective.

Results in this graph are taken from testing done by Stamets and Gartz

Shroom Strains

Due to the comparative ease of cultivation (at least, those not requiring decomposing wood or dung to grow), the vast majority of recognized strains all fall under the umbrella of the P. cubensis species. Although the exact number is difficult to determine, and new strains are consistently being created, mycologists estimate that there are around 150 distinctly identifiable P. cubensis strains. This article cannot possibly cover them all, so we will focus on three of the most prominent strains. If you are interested in delving further into the differences among strains, check out which offers the widest catalog of P. cubensis strains online.

Golden Teacher

This strain was first classified in the late ‘80s, and since then, the name Golden Teacher has become almost ubiquitous with psilocybin mushrooms. Golden Teacher mushrooms are medium to large in size and often feature a distinct triangular bump in the center of their golden caramel-colored caps. It is a moderately potent strain ideal for beginning shroom psychonauts, one that offers a subtly more spiritual, introspective undertone to the experience, along with feelings of euphoria and uncontrollable laughter. This makes Great Teacher well suited for both social recreational use and therapeutic or medicinal applications.

Penis Envy

Penis Envy P. cubensis has an interesting history. It is theorized the strain was isolated from Amazonian P. cubensis (another popular strain) by legendary ethnobotanist and psychonaut Terence McKenna. Since Mckenna’s original isolation, many variations of Penis Envy have subsequently been created, such as Albino Penis Envy and Uncut Penis Envy. All of these variations have characteristics which are clearly distinct from other P. cubensis strains, consisting of substantially higher potency (30 to 50 percent); extremely thick, dense stems; and pale, underdeveloped caps — making them somewhat resemblant of the organ for which they were named. They are known to generate an experience filled with deep philosophical ideations and intense feelings of euphoria.


This strain was one of the first to be classified, and is thought to be the mushroom referred to by R. Gordon Wasson in the famous LIFE Magazine article “Seeking the Magic Mushroom” which popularized psilocybin mushrooms throughout Western cultures. Its name comes from the village of Huautla De Jiménez in Oaxaca, Mexico where Wasson’s experience took place. Huautla are typically medium-sized mushrooms of moderate potency that sporate very heavily, often turning the caps purple-black with spores. They are known to reliably elicit spiritually meaningful experiences permeated with intense feelings of love and unity, along with a sense of connection with nature and the universe as a whole.

Strain Categorization

The niche of strain categorization and review, inspired by sites such as the cannabis strain aggregator Leafly, is being explored by numerous organizations in the psilocybin mushroom space, too. and, in particular, are recognized as two of the most comprehensive and accurate ones.

Psilopedia takes a science focused approach to offering in-depth information on many aspects of psilocybin, like its metabolic processes, pharmacodynamics, effects at macro- and microdosages, areas of study, and mushroom identification. They also have aggregated contact information for numerous psychedelic integration practitioners — therapists and psychologists who help integrate the insights realized during psychedelic-assisted therapy into one’s life. Additionally, the site has classified shrooms with pictures, detailed characteristics, and reviews over 70 P. cubensis strains, with full report-style overviews of the four primary Psilocybe species.

Psillow, on the other hand, is markedly more culturally focused, offering a consistently updated blog with informational and entertaining articles. They also have useful resources like a “Trip Report” template, along with a comprehensive catalog of Psilocybe species (more than Psilopedia), however, it contains less information on P. cubensis strains.

Why people have contrasting experiences from different species and strains of mushrooms is multifaceted and hypothesized to be a combined function of two factors. First, varied levels and ratios of the three psychoactive compounds; and second, the set, setting, and intention of the user. Differing levels of active compounds can alter the onset, duration, and intensity of the experience, while also playing a role in whether it is felt more in the mind or body. Conversely, the user’s set, setting, and intention play a larger role in determining whether the experience generates spiritual connection, philosophical enlightenment, or therapeutic benefit.

It is also important to note that across species/strains, the growing conditions, such as the composition of the substrate in which the mushroom mycelium (similar to the roots of a plant) and fruiting bodies are cultivated in, environmental variables, and when in the fruiting period the mushrooms are harvested (either before or after sporation), have significant effects on potency. Generally, the highest potency is achieved with nutrient-rich colonization and fruiting substrates, as well as the ratio of mycelium-to-substrate at the beginning of fruiting, consistent temperature and humidity, and harvesting just before the veil between the stem and cap breaks.

If you have any further questions about the differences between species and strains, or questions regarding mushroom cultivation, please do not hesitate to contact me through my website! And continue reading MERRY JANE for more coverage of psilocybin mushrooms and other entheogens.

Like cannabis, there are numerous species and "strains" of magic mushrooms. Here, we detail what makes the varieties of psilocybin-containing fungus unique, and how they affect your mind and body.