Would you have thought that 90% of what you read online about magic mushroom strains is bogus!?
As a result of over two decades of marketing efforts targeted specifically at the Dutch market, now people believe that variety is king.
In this article we'll explain what a mushroom strain actually is, what differences there are between strains and what are the most important factors in choosing which one is for you.
What is a magic mushroom strain?
Mushroom strain is the common term people use to pinpoint a specific type of magic mushroom within a species.
You may have heard some names, like Golden Teacher mushrooms, B+ Mushrooms, Tampanensis, or Albinos... or even Penis envy mushrooms (no kidding, that's a real shroom strain.)
Strains are like a subcategory to a mushroom species. All of the strains listed above belong to the same species: Stropharia Cubensis. The most famous and most popular mushroom of all time.
There are other species that are less well known, more difficult to cultivate and often only occuring in the wild. As a general rule, picking wild magic mushrooms is a delicate art and they are a lot stronger than the ones you can easily cultivate at home, with growkits or from spores.
Now that we know what's a magic mushroom strain, opposed to a species, let's look how you can find out which strain of shrooms is the best for you.
What are the differences between magic mushroom strains?
Pretty much all strains used for shroom cultivation belong to the Stropharia Cubensis species, with very few exceptions. It is simply the easiest species to grow. So although they all produce mushrooms of the same species, they were given different names, because they were found or cultivated in different parts of the world.
"Psilocybe Tampanensis" was first discovered during a mushroom hunting trip in Tampa, Florida. "Psilocybe Mexicana" is derived from the original batch of magic mushrooms that were brought from Mexico into the western world, way back in the 50s. In 1954, the mexican curandera Maria Sabina allowed Gordon R. Wasson to partake in a magic mushroom healing ceremony in Oaxaca, Mexico. This event became a pivotal point in mushroom history, as it brought magic mushrooms to the attention of the US counterculture and made them popular.
Some mushroom strains are directly named after icons of the mushroom pop culture that came out of this discovery, such as "Psilocybe McKennaii" - named after famous US mycologist and psychedelic author Terence McKenna.
As you can see, none of these denominations have anything to do with the psychoactive properties and everything to do with the mushroom's history. Note also that the name "Psilocybe" is incorrectly used here - these mushrooms all belong to the Stropharia Cubensis species and were renamed to make sure everyone understands these to be "psilocybin" mushrooms.
So, which mushroom strain is the best? The short answer is, the one you can get your hands on and that will grow well in your home. Luckily, Cubensis mushrooms are very easy to grow, so it is totally up to you which one you want to go for: Thai Mushrooms, Mazatapec Mushrooms, Cambodian Mushrooms...
You may sometimes read online that "Treasure Coast mushrooms are especially introspective" or "Why Colombia mushrooms are superior to Ban Huan Thai". More often than not, the authors are basing their opinions on their own personal psychedelic mushroom experiences, which are heavily influenced by a user's surroundings and inner state.
Plus, don't forget that magic mushroom growkits are a growing industry in the Netherlands, that was founded by some very clever and imaginative salesmen.
However! There is one visible, palpable difference in a strain that does not produce pigmentation the same way others do.
What are Albino mushroom strains?
Albinos are a genetic variant, that tends to produce less harvest per flush than others, often a few very long shrooms, that have a reputation for being a little bit stronger than their normal, golden capped mushrooms.
Many different strains can also be available as Albinos.
The most common strains that will produce white magic mushrooms are called Moby Dick and A+.
To determine whether they are actually stronger, you would need to do some extensive testing though. At least, they appear to be quite strong, maybe in the range of being about 20-30% more potent. So while you get less weight out of them, you can get a little more out of each gram - which is not that much of a difference in weight, if you think about it.
Wether you take 5g of dry magic mushrooms, or 6g - the extra weight is hardly going to make much difference in how much effort that means for you.
This should be all you need to understand the strains that you can get from magic mushroom growkits. By the way, this is why we decided to call all our homemade growkits "Golden Caps" and to always use strains from the climate zone closest to the current season of the year.
If you are looking into growing magic mushrooms from spores, there are a few exceptions to this that we'll dive into in the next segment.
Which magic mushroom strain is the strongest?
There is one exception to the rule that all growkits contain Cubensis strains: Copelandia Cyanescens. This mushroom belongs to a different species alltogether and is considerably more sensitive to changes in temperature - hence, more difficult to grow successfully.
Also known as the "Panaeolus cyanescens" or "Blue Meanie", this is a potent psilocybin mushroom species that is native to several regions around the world, including Hawaii, Southeast Asia, and Australia. It gained popularity due to its high concentration of psilocybin. It has earned the nickname "Hawaiian Magic Mushroom" because it is commonly found in Hawaii and is believed to have been used by indigenous Hawaiian communities for long centuries.
Pro tip: You may find shops that sell magic truffles under the name "Hawaiians", but this has nothing to do with Copelandia. They are normal magic truffles, making use of a popular name. The same goes for the Cubensis strain named "PES Hawaii." Mushroom names are confusing like that.
The Copelandia mushrooms used to be immensely popular in the early 2000s, before selling magic mushrooms in the Netherlands was forbidden by law. They are about 10X stronger than your average Cubensis mushroom, which could also lead to a lot of confusion in the past. If someone was used to 2g of (cubensis) mushrooms leading to a mild an pleasant trip, they would suddenly find themselves floating in space after taking 2g of Copelandia mushrooms.
But again, this is not a strain!
Looking beyond the range of the most common magic mushroom strains, there are a few varieties of Cubensis mushrooms that are reportedly more difficult to cultivate, but in fact, have a higher content of psilocybin per gram without changing the substrate.
The mushroom substrate is where the fungi get their nutrients and so, you can actually make an average strain produce stronger mushrooms by changing what you feed it.
One famous Cubensis strain that produces stronger-than-average mushrooms on normal rye substrate is called Penis Envy. These magic mushrooms look phallic in appearance and have a history shrouded in mystery. Supposedly, they were brought back from the Amazon basin by Terence McKenna and then somehow found their way into the hands of the mycologist Steven Pollock.
Penis envy magic mushrooms
Be that as it may, an experienced grower may want to tackle the challenge of growing penis envy, despite their reported tendency to create aborts quite easily (meaning the mushroom stops growing after its primodia stage).
Other freak mushroom strains that are said to be stronger than normal are Tidal Wave mushrooms and Yeti mushrooms - which can apparently also both appear in Albino form.
Again, growing magic mushroom strains can be a fun hobby and bring you closer to your shrooms by spending time understanding their life cycle. But if you are mostly interested in having the cleanest possible trips, there is likely a lot more value for you in refining your preparation before a mushroom experience.
If you don't intend to grow them yourself, but would still like to experience them, here is a word of warning: Selling Magic mushrooms is illegal in most countries and you will have to look for them in places where there is no quality control.
Buying magic mushrooms online or from friends is one thing, but buying shrooms online can be very risky. There have been some cases in the 70s when people would sell normal culinary mushrooms soaked in LSD - which is extremely difficult to dose correctly.
If you are looking for something a little different from what you can comfortably grow at home by yourself, you may want to look into foraging magic mushrooms in your area.
Where can I pick wild magic mushrooms?
If you go out into nature during the right time of year (preferrably with a mushroom identification guide), you may be lucky and find some wild magic mushrooms.
Remember, there are over 200 different species of magic mushrooms, so with the exception of extreme heat and extreme cold, there is likely always a species that likes the climate. There are Psilocybe Cyanescens, Psilocybe Azurenscens, the Gymnopilus Spectabilis, the Liberty Cap, and many other mushroom families that are known to produce magic mushrooms.
Where do magic mushrooms grow?
Here's a hint on what type of magic mushroom species grows in which climate:
Hot/warm climate (tropical and subtropical): Stropharia Cubensis, Panaeolus tropicalis, sometimes Gymnopilus
Temperate (as in Central Europe or North America): Psilocybe Cyanescens, Psilocybe semilanceata, and again, Stropharia Cubensis (which grows almost everywhere)
Super dry/ freezing cold: Mushrooms won't grow in the desert or on ice, they need water!
In temperate climates, you Mushrooms like to grow on meadows, pastures and of course, in the forest. The ideal timing to go foraging for wild shrooms is in the days following a period of rain, often in the spring and autumn.
Mushroom hunting is a lot of fun, but it's also super important for you to know exactly what you are looking for. Mididentification of mushrooms is a common accident and remember that there are always some poisonous species that you don't even want to be touching, let alone eating.
If you're wondering how to know which mushrooms are magic when you go foraging, it's best to inform yourself about which species grow in your region and what their look-alikes are - and how to tell them apart! There's nothing more frustrating than standing in the middle of a patch of juicy wild mushrooms and being unable to tell if they are magical or poisonous.
The Stropharia Cubensis, known also as Psilocybe Cubensis, mushroom is widely considered to be the easiest mushroom to grow across all species. It has been cultivated by humans for millennia, and its cultivation is so simple that not even fire is necessary. The mushroom can be grown on straw, which is where its nickname "Rumplestiltskin" comes from, as it transforms straw into gold.
Humans have been migrating around the world for centuries, and they have taken their methods for growing magic mushrooms with them. They also brought their livestock, which provided the necessary substrate for the mushrooms to grow. This symbiotic relationship has led to the spread of Stropharia Cubensis mushrooms around the globe. The mushroom began to grow autonomously in new regions where it was introduced by humans, creating new strains. This has led to the diversity of strains of Stropharia Cubensis that we see today. This mushroom has played a big role in human history, and has been used for medicinal and spiritual purposes by many cultures. It is not only easy to grow but also versatile and adaptable that can grow in different conditions and regions.
What determines the strength of a magic mushroom?
The appearance and potency of magic mushrooms is not primarily determined by their geographical origin. The way in which the mushrooms are grown, including factors such as temperature, humidity, oxygen levels, and the changes in these conditions over the course of growth, are much more important in determining the final product.
In fact, the active substances within a single flush of mushrooms can vary more than between different strains.
The interest in different strains of magic mushrooms has been artificially inflated over the years due to smartshop marketing tactics. Prior to the ban on magic mushrooms in the Netherlands in 2007, there was little interest in specific strains, with customers only having the choice between "Mexican" or "Hawaiian" mushrooms. With the ban, grow kits became the replacement product and marketing experts, often with little knowledge of the product, began to invent reasons for selling the same product at different prices and/or under different names.