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From: RikM@sv.span.com (Rik Marshall)
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 1994 07:56:27 +0000
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: Mushroom Identification

I've decided to go shroom picking this year and recently posted a request
for information to a.d, this has met with a lot of response (from the UK),
it seems people are a bit vague on what it looks like, and where to find 
them.

I've been looking through books and condensed all the relevant info
into this file (also a couple of gifs).

The two species I have concentrated on are Psilocybe Semilanceata (Liberty
Caps) and Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric).  I have been looking for the first
(I'm not too bothered about the second, after reading a few posts about it
in a.d, it sounds a little too heavy, pos. dangerous), the literature seems
to have the concensus that it is harmless (except for the hallucinogenic
properties :) ).

I hope this helps ....

< Sorry for any typo's >

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

___The mushroom identifier - David Pegler & Brian Spooner___

Poisonous Fungi
Some species affect the central nervous system causing hallucinations and 
sometimes leading to coma.  In the case of muscimol poisoning, also caused
by the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) and by others such as The Panther 
(A. pantherina), the symptoms consist mainly of drowsiness but can be more
serious.  Some of the Psiocybe species, on the other hand, cause visual 
hallucinations within 20 minutes of ingestion.  Such mushrooms are sometimes
deliberately ingested for recreational purposesalthough the legality of such
actions varies between countries.

Psilocybe Semilanceata (Stropharia (Strophariaceae)) - Liberty Cap.
A well-known species, owing to its reputation as a "magic mushroom"
Cap: 3/8-5/8 in(1-1.5cm) in diameter, narrowly conical with a central,
        pointed projection, not expandinhg, pale yellowish brown, drying
        to almost white, smooth, sticky, with a darker striated margin.
Gills: adnate, grey-brown to blackish brown, broad and crowded.
Stem: 2-3 X 1/8 in (5-8X0.2-03 cm), slender, cylindrical, paler than the
        cap and often bruising bluish green towards the base.
Flesh: thin, firm.
Spore deposit: purplish black.
Habitat: very common, solitary or in very large numbers, in open grassland.
Edibility: toxic, causing psychotropic poisoning, and consequently has been
        used as a hallucinogen.
Season: Autumn
Similar species: There are numerous species of Psilocybe, and many are small
        and similar in appearance.  The Bluing Psilocybe (P. cyanescens) 
        lacks a point on the cap, while P. fimetaria grows on dung; both
        poisonous.

Amanita Muscaria (Amanita (Amanitaceae)) - Fly Agaric.
Perhaps the best-known wild mushroom, having a large, scarlet cap with small 
        white scales, and a membranous ring on the stem.
Cap: 2-9 in (5-25 cm) in diameter, strongly rounded the expanding to flat 
        and platelike, moist and shiny, with concentric rings of small white
        scales which may become washed away by the rain.
Gills: free, white to pale yellow, broad and rounded.
Stem: 4-9 X 3/8-1 in (10-25 X 1-2.5 cm), tall, cylindrical with as swollen 
        base.
Flesh: thick, white, yellowish under cap cuticle.
Spore deposit: white.
Habitat: in small groups, under pine or birch.
Edibility: poisonous, containing both sweat-inducing and mild hallucinogenic
        poisons, which can cause delirium and coma.
Season: Autumn
Similar species: The variety regalis is yellowish brown with yellow scales, 
        and in North America, the variety formosa is orange-yellow; both 
        poisonous.


        
__The Encyclopedia of Mushrooms - Colin Dickinson & John Lucas__

Mushroom Poisoning - The nerve poisons.
Apart from the cell poisons, the most dangerous species are those which 
contain substances that affect the nervous system.  Strictly speaking the 
hallucinogenic species also affect the nervous system, but the disturbances
in this case are usually restricted to sensory distortion.  Mushrooms 
containing nerve poisons can cause more serious symptoms such as convulsions,
irregular breathing and, in severe cases, death through heart failure.  Two 
types of toxin have been implicated in this type of poisoning - muscarine 
and ibotenic acid.

Hallucinogenic mushrooms.
The principal toxins in Amanita muscaria have now been identified as ibotenic
acid, and the closely related compound, muscimol.  The Panther Cap (A. 
pantherina) causes similar symptoms, also attributed to these poisons but
while this latter species is rightly regarded as dangerous, the status of
Fly Agaric as a deadly mushroom has been questioned.  It has traditionally
been used as a ritual halluginogen in certain cultures and attitudes to this
mushroom would appear to be more to do with cultural background than with any 
scientific assessment of it's toxicity.

Psilocybe semilanceata - Liberty Caps.
This small fungus was given the name Liberty Caps because the shape of its
cap is like that adopted as the symbol of the first French Republic.  It
contains the hallucinatory drug psilocybin, and may have been tried by those 
seeking new drug experiences.  In a recent English court case it was judged
not to be an offence to possess the fruiting bodies of this species.
Cap: pale clay colour, becoming yellowish-olive or dingy brown. 0.5-1cm in 
diameter, up to 2cm high.  Acutely conical, often with a sharp point, never
exapnding.  Margin inrolled at first, slightly striate.  Cutcle slimy, 
peeling in wet weather.  Flesh membranous, white.
Gills: finally purplish brown with white edges, adnate, narrow, crowded.
Stipe: slender, usually wavy, up to 7.5 cm long.  Whitish at the top, pale
clay lower down.  Smooth with remnants of viel in young specimins.
Flesh: pliant, tough.
Spores: purple-brown in mass, ellipsoid, smooth, with a germ pore, average
size 13.0 X 7.8 microns.
Habitat and distribution.
Grows gregariously, often in troops, among grass, in fields, pastures, heaths
and along roadsides where animals have grazed.  Frequent to common in Europe
and North America, it also grows in Australia.
Occurrence: August to November.
Culinary properties: It is said to be poisonous when raw, even fatal is eaten
by children.  Harmless when cooked.


__The Illustrated Book of Mushrooms and Fungi - Dr Mirko Svrcek__

Poisonous fungi and the symptoms of poisoning.

Psychotropic poisoning involves serious cases characterized by the irritation
of brain tissue.  For a long time the intoxication caused by the Fly Agaric 
was the only form of mushroom poisoning accompanied by psychic disturbances.  
It was not before the 1950s that other so-called cult fungi, formally used in
religious ceremonies and rites, were identified; their ingestion leads to 
different manifestations of psychic disturbance.  Two types of psychotropic
poisoning are distinguished: psychotonic poisoning caused by the so-called 
mycoatropine, and psychodysleptic poisoning caused by psilocybine.

In Europe, poisoning by mycoatropine is caused by three Amanita species. 
Most common are cases of poisoning after eating the Panther Cap, less 
frequent are those caused by the Fly Agaric, and practically unknown is 
poisoning by A. regalis.  The poisonous content principles of these amanitas
have not yet been exactly identified, and this is why the designation 
'mycoatrophine poisoning', though inadequate, is still used nowadays.

The course of poisoning caused by all the three species is substantially the
same: nausea is experienced between half an hour and three hours after 
consumption, accompanied by vomiting, headache, quickened heartbeat, and a 
persistent dilation of pupils occasionally leading to vision disturbances.
Often the condition of the affected person resembles alchoholic intoxication:
the patient becomes talkative, shouts obscenities, sometimes laughs or weeps,
strikes himself and keeps on running to and fro.  The states of excitement 
may be dangerous for the sick person and must therefore be mitigated.  
Subsequently the patient faints, recovers from time to time, hallucinates,
screams, defends himself against invisable danger, etc, but finally falls 
into a profound sleep from which he usually awakens into a normal state, 
without remembering his previous behaviour.  This poisoning comes to it's 
fortunate end on the second or third day.  First aid consists in the 
stimulation of vomiting and in taking the patient to hospital; he must be 
given neither milk nor alchohol.  The treatment starts with a stomach rinse,
the excitement is controlled by remidies of the cholpromazine type, 
physostigmne (never atropine!) is administered as an antidote against 
mycoatropine.

Psilocybine poisoning occurs after consuming some species of the genus
Psilocybe, or fungi belonging to related genera about which, nowadays, 
abundant literature is available.  These fungi are distributed mostly in 
Mexico and in some Central American countries.  They contain so-called
hallucinogenic substances thanks to which they had long been used in 
religious rituals and were kept secret until the twentieth century.  Their 
research is due to the efforts of the American ethnographers Mr and Mrs 
Wasson who succeeded in aquiring hallucunogenous fungi, which they studied
and identified with the help of mycologists.  Chemical analysis of these 
fungi were carried out, and it was even possible to cultivate some of them.
The effecttive substance was finally produced artificially, whereby its 
experimental testing on volunteers and its application for therapeutic 
purposes was made possible.

Fungi containing hallucinogenic substances generally produce small, 
inconspicuous fruit bodies growing on dung or excrements.  They belong to the
genera Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Panaelina and Stropharia.  The amount of 
effective substances in the fruit bodies is variable, particularly in the 
European representatives of the mentioned genera whose effect is 
substantially smaller in comparison with the Mexican species.

The psychic symptoms following the ingestion of halluginogenic fungi are 
extremely varied.  In some individuals they manifest themselves as euphoria, 
in others as sight disorders and hallucinations; saometimes they assume the 
form of the kaleidoscopic effect involving the duplication of objects in 
inappropriate colours; still other persons, on the contrary, feel anxiety
and fear, suffer from terrifying delusions, and these states may lead to 
delirium and suicide attempts.  Thanks to the lower content of effective 
substances, the European fungi evoke much milder symptoms.

Hallucinogenic fungi contain four active substances; psilocybine, psilocine,
baeocystine, and norbaeocystine.  Psilocine is considered the main bearer of 
halluginogenic proprties.  However, poisoning by these fungi is exceptional, 
and there is no danger of misusing European hallucinogenic fungi for 
intentional intoxication.


Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Cap)

The genus Psilocybe, as well as the related genera Panaeolus and Stropharia, 
have become better known - and especially more popular - following the 
discovery of hallucinogenic substances obtained from numerous Mexican species
of Psilocybe.  Further analyses have also shown that some European species of
the genus Psilocybe also contain substances with hallucinogenic effects, 
even though in substantially smaller quantities so that the symptoms 
following their ingestion are much milder.

Psilocybe semilanceata is a very small fungus which easily escapes attention.  
Its cap is 1-2 cm high, always higher than it is wide, markedly and 
persistently lanceolate-pointed or narrowly conical, often with an abruptly
projecting point, thin-fleshed, hygrophanous, shiny or sticky, dark olive
grey-brown or yellow-brown when moist, in dry conditions leathery yellow,
smooth, glabrous, with greenish spots.  The stipe is very long, only 2-3mm
thick, firm and tough, tortuous, pallid or brownish, with a silky sheen, 
often blue-green at the base, attached to the substrate by a bluish green
mycelium.  The gills are broadly adnate, olive grey or brownish with a lilac 
tinge, then red-brown to black-brown, with white ciliate edges.  The gill 
edges harbour numerous cheilocystidia.  The flesh has no specifiec odour nor
taste.  The spore print is dark brown.
P. semilanceata grows in grass tufts on pasturelands and forest tracks from 
August to October.  It is not particularly abundant and appears more commonly 
in upland regions.  It is inedible because of the halluginogenic substances 
it contains.

1. Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)
The Fly Agaric has been known as a poisonous species since ancient times.  
Its toxicity is mainly due to the presence of mycoatropine which causes 
disorders of mental activity.  The content of another poisonous principle, 
muscarine, is relatively small.  Recently the identity of the Fly Agaric with
the drug called 'soma', venerated by the most ancient Aryan tribes in the 
time of migrating to and settling in the mountains of Afghanistan, has been 
established.  The migration of peoples contributed to the further spreading 
of the Fly Agaric cult.  Particularly remarkable is the Siberian cult of the
Fly Agaric: people were drinking fruit-body decoctions, chewing dry 
toadstools and washing them down with cold water; or they would prepare a 
beverage from a micture of the toadstool and leaves of the Bog Whortleberry 
nad Salix angustifolia.  Since the effective substance is secreted with 
urine, they even drank the urine of intoxicated persons.

The symptoms of swallowing include vomiting, headache, accelerated heartbeat,
dilation of pupils; often a state similar to alcoholic intoxication and
hallucinations set in, and finally the poisoned person awakes in the morning 
in a normal condition, without remembering his or her previous behaviour.

2. Amanita regalis, growing in upland spruce stands, is distinguished by a 
yellowish-brown cap, a yellowish stipe and similarly coloured remnants of the
outer veil on the cap, and by a ring.  It seems to be as poisonous as the 
Fly agaric.
                                                                             
________Rikm@Sv.Span.Com______________________________London_Uk______________