There are more than 180 strains of magic mushrooms and even more species. Explore the history of five of the most iconic psilocybe cubensis strains here.
The world isn’t starved for strains when it comes to magic mushrooms. There are more than 14,000 species of mushrooms and 180+ strains containing the year’s trendiest psychoactive ingredient: psilocybin.
With creative and occasionally tongue-in-cheek names (Penis Envy, Blue Meanies, Jedi Mind Fuck, (you get the picture)), the most popular ‘shroom’ strains are found in abundance, easy to grow, and safe to eat.
Like cannabis and most things in nature, there are magic mushroom strains and species. Though some may use the delegations interchangeably, strains and species are not the same. Species describe a group of closely related psilocybin mushrooms with similarities in their chemical composition.
Strains, meanwhile, serve as a sub-group of species. (Think: bears as a species and polar bears as strains). Psychonauts often use the term “strain” to distill the mushroom’s expected effects, optimal growing conditions, and unique physical traits.
New strains can arise by combining spores of the same species. In the case of magic mushrooms, these efforts are often spearheaded by creative contemporary mycologists, such as “Myco Joe,” who discovered Jedi Mind Fuck mushrooms in the Georiga wild, isolated the wild cubensis to prevent contamination, and brought the strain into the mainstream.
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Typically, when someone references magic mushrooms, they’re talking about Psilocybe cubensis. Though they thrive in tropical and subtropical regions, home growers have great success cultivating them indoors, which has allowed them to become more accessible and, as such, more popular.
P. cubensis mushrooms are beautiful with long, dense stems and broad caps; they are also often larger than other shroom species, although this could be due to generations of genetic isolation. Strains of this species provide the much sought-after psychedelic effects of intense euphoria, increased feelings of openness and unity, philosophical ideation, hallucination, and a decrease in the influence of the ego.
This brings us to why you’re reading–here’s Retreat’s overview of five iconic psilocybe cubensis strains:
As the name insinuates, Golden Teachers offer a calmer, glowy, more guided trip. They feature plump golden caps that fade into paler, girthy stems. Golden Teachers are renowned for being easy to grow, an excellent psychedelic for “beginners,” and a conduit to spiritual connection. For those looking to cautiously flirt with the Psychedelic Renaissance, microdosing Golden Teachers can faciliate a therapeutic experience.
There’s a maxim among mycologists “a cube is a cube… except for Penis Envy.” In the fungi community, penis envy mushrooms are notorious. As you could’ve guessed, penis envy shrooms are famous for their phallic appearance and above-average potency–50 to 100 percent stronger than the average Psilocybe cubensis variety, according to the work of Oakland Hyphae and the Psilocybin Cup. For those looking for a powerful psychedelic experience, penis envy doesn’t require as high a dose to break through into a mind-bending odyssey.
Along with penis envy and golden teachers, B+ is yet another strain of psilocybe cubensis. Robust but gentle, B+ is an un-intimidating magic mushroom strain perfect for beginners, microdosers, and those who prefer a (relatively) relaxing experience. Though they’re strong, enthusiasts report that their delivery is more mellow and level-headed than hard-hitters like penis envy. We all experience psilocybin’s effects differently depending on the day, setting, and sometimes even ineffable factors—but the consensus among shroom sommeliers is that a B+ trip tends to be body and visual-heavy with less introspection than other strains like golden teachers.
Psilocybe Mexicana is one of the oldest and most sacred magic mushrooms. This is likely the species that the Nahuatl/Aztec people used called “Teonanacatl,” translating to “flesh of the Gods,” and used in ceremonies before Spanish colonization. Psilocybe Mexicana is also the shroom that French botanist Roger Heim famously sent to Albert Hoffman in 1958. Hoffman, who you may recognize as the chemist who discovered LSD, leveraged the sample to isolate psilocybin and psilocin for the first time in a lab and cultivate magic mushrooms. Psilocybe Mexicana grows natively in North and Central America.
Like Psilocybe Mexicana, Huautla is one of the originals. Many believe it to be the mushroom referenced by R. Gordon Wasson in the LIFE Magazine article that introduced psilocybin to western cultures: “Seeking the Magic Mushroom.” The strain is named after the village of Huautla De Jiménez in Oaxaca, Mexico where Wasson’s psychedelic journey first began with his meeting of Maria Sabina, along with his wife, Valentina Wasson. Huautla are medium-sized mushrooms with mid-range potency. Among psychonauts, they are revered for eliciting spiritually profound experiences punctuated by feelings of love and connection to nature and the universe at large.
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