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- Created on Thursday, 24 February 2011 10:00
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The liberty cap is a small psychoactive mushroom that contains both psilocybin and baeocystin. It is one of the most widespread “magic mushrooms” in the world and one of the most sought after by magic mushroom hunters.
Psilocybe semilanceata gets its common name because its cap resembles a felt hat that has been popular with many cultures through history, called the liberty hat.
Liberty Cap cluster found on Vancouver Island, Canada
P. semilanceata is a relatively small mushroom that has a conic to bell shaped cap that usually has a umbo. The cap is usually between 0.5-2.5 cm broad and has a gelatinous sticky surface.
The gills of this mushroom are attached to the stem and crowded together. The gills are pale brown when young, changing to purple as the mushroom ages.
The stem is typically 4-10 cm long and only between 0.5 – 3mm thick. The slender stem may contain remnants of the veil (annular zone) and can be dusted purple in areas from spores released from the cap.
The liberty cap can vary greatly in color depending on moisture, weather and age. It can be pale to dark brown when young and moist, while older specimens can be yellow to light tan when dry or sun bleached. Both the cap and the stem may be stained blue from the psilocybin.
The spore print is dark purple. Note that the spore print should be taken at the same temperature that the mushroom was collected in. Spore from this mushroom may not drop, if the spore print is taken at room temperature.
Older Psilocybe semilanceata, note the bluing and cracked cap
P. semilanceata can grow solitarily or in loose groups during the fall season (usually only after some rain). It grows in pastures, fields, lawns and any other thick grassy area. It especially likes moist, larger clumps of grass in areas that have been fertilized with sheep, horse or cow dung.
Liberty caps can be found in the coastal areas of North America and Europe. It has also been seen in South America, New Zealand and India. In North America it is most abundant in the Pacific Northwest area of the US and the in coastal areas of British Columbia, Canada. It has also been found in the coastal areas of eastern states of the US and eastern provinces of Canada, having been sighted in New York, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.
As mentioned, Psilocybe semilanceata is psychoactive and will cause intoxication if eaten. Even though it’s one of the smallest “magic mushrooms”, studies have shown it to be one of the most potent, containing up 2.4% psilocybin.
The chemicals psilocybin and psilocin produced by psychoactive mushrooms like P. semilanceata or the whole mushroom itself are considered illegal in many countries. These include all of Europe, the USA and Canada. Please review your local laws BEFORE collecting any of these mushrooms.