History of Liberty Cap Magic Mushrooms
Liberty Caps Are Among the Most Potent Magic Mushrooms
Psilocybe Cubensis Isn’t the Only Magic Mushroom Out There. Here’s What You Should Know about Its Cousin, Liberty Caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata) known by numerous names—Liberty Caps, Blue Legs, Pixie Caps, Witches Hats. Liberty Cap is an unassuming innocent-looking mushroom, often happily growing next to many similar species, including Panaeolus spp. and Protostropharia semiglobata. Like Psilocybe cubensis, Liberty Caps grow in fields and pastures, but prefer the cold of temperate climates. Found growing in fall and spring, these delicate-looking, slender mushrooms are among the most potent Psilocybe species.After Psilocybe cubensis, Liberty Cap is perhaps one of the best known of the Psilocybe genus. Most often referred to as “Liberty Caps,” this species has a fascinating history and is responsible for the first reported European magic mushroom trip in 1799. Liberty Cap became popular in Europe in the 1960s for its psychoactive properties after French botanist Roger Heim and Albert Hoffmann identified it as containing psilocybin. In 2009, Liberty Caps became the type species of the genus Psilocybe – the species that defines the genus – after a reassessment of both Deconica and Psilocybe. Psilocybe was nearly renamed, but due to the legal implications, the blue bruising species retained the name Psilocybe. Mycologist Gastón Guzmán, author of the 1983 monograph The Genus Psilocybe, considered Liberty Cap to be the world’s most widespread Psilocybe species. Assumed to be native to Europe, it grows throughout many parts of the temperate northern and southern hemispheres.
The Appearance of Liberty Cap Magic Mushrooms
Liberty Capis a tall thin field mushroom. The cap is quite distinctive, with a pronounced papilla on top of a tall and slender cap. The stem is long and thin, enough to raise the cap above the grass to distribute its spores. Although delicate looking, these are tough mushrooms, and a common identification test is to twist the stem around your little finger to see if the stem breaks. In most cases, a Panaeolus or Conocybe stem will readily break, but Liberty Caps are very fibrous and should not snap.
Liberty caps have a cap that is approximately 5–25 mm (0.2–1.0 in) in diameter and a height of 6–22 mm (0.24–0.87 in). The cap can vary in shape from sharply conical to bell-shaped. A distinctive feature is their prominent papilla (the nipple-shaped top of the cap). At maturity, the cap margin is straight and can become slightly curled upwards. When moist, radial grooves (striations) can be seen on the cap that corresponds to the positions of the gills underneath.
A feature of Psilocybe spp. is their hygrophanous cap, and this is no different withLiberty Cap. The cap has a gelatinous layer called a separable pellicle; as this dries out, the cap can take on different colours depending on the moisture present. When the cap is moist, it can be pale brown to dark chestnut brown, often with a green-blue tinge. The pellicle can be used as an identifying feature by gently breaking the cap and bending it back to reveal the layer. When the cap is dry, it becomes much paler, a light yellow-brown color, and the pellicle is no longer peelable
The gills are narrow and moderately crowded together, initially pale brown, but becoming dark grey to purple-brown as the spores mature. Their attachment to the stem is narrowly adnexed, almost free. Liberty Cap are reported to have a thin cobweb-like partial veil, but these are rarely visible. The partial veil can leave an annular zone on the stem, to which spores stick, leaving a darkened ring around the stem. The stem is slender, off-white turning yellow-brown, 45–140 mm (1.8–5.5 in) in length, and 1–3.5 mm (0.04–0.14 in) thick, usually equal thickness becoming slightly thicker towards the base.
An important diagnostic feature of the genus Psilocybe is the blue bruising; Liberty Caps do not bruise as readily as other Psilocybe spp., but will show some bruising on the base of their stem, hence the name “Blue Legs.” As with other Psilocybe spp. they have a farinaceous, flour or starch-like odor.
How Strong are They?
Most Psilocybe species will bruise a variety of shades of blue or blue-green when damaged, but in the case ofLiberty Cap, they only tend to bruise a small amount at the base of their stem. Given their tall thin stature, you would probably pass on these given a familiarity with other species such as Psilocybe cubensis. To look at, you wouldn’t think they are very potent, but by the percentage of dry weight, they are more potent than P. cubensis.
Liberty Caphas been analyzed several times with variations in results. Tjakko Stijve and Thom Kuyper, in 1985 analysing a single specimen, found a concentration of psilocybin of 1.7 percent dry weight, with a concentration of baeocystin at 0.36 percent. In 1993, Gartz reported Liberty Cap having an average of 1.0 percent psilocybin by dry weight, ranging from 0.2-2.37 percent psilocybin. Analyzing specimens from the Pacific Northwest, Michael Beug and Jeremy Bigwood found psilocybin concentrations ranging from 0.62-1.28 percent, with an average of 1 percent. Psilocybe cubensis contain psilocin and psilocybin at 0.14-0.42 percent and 0.37-1.30 percent, respectively.
Liberty Capscontain significantly more psilocybin than psilocin (psilocybin being more stable, deteriorating more slowly than psilocin) so that after a few months of storage in a cool dark environment, the mushrooms tend to retain most of their original potency. The main issue with Liberty Cap is that they dry to a tiny dry, thin mushroom; therefore, you need to collect a lot for a dose.
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