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Q: There is a persistent rumor in my area about psilocybin mushrooms that says if you get a bag with a lot of blue colored shrooms in it, that means it's more potent. Wouldn't a blue color at best have no effect and at worst be a sign of contamination?

A: The bluing reaction is widely believed to be the result of the presence of psilocin in the mushroom. The bluing is believed to be caused by the oxidization of currently unidentified chemical. Although speculative, the bluing reaction is considered by Paul Stamets to "parallel" the degradation of psilocin. In Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World, Stamets writes: "Apparently, the bluing pigmentation is a result of a phenomenon paralleling the degradation of unstable psilocin (dephosphorylated psilocybin) to presently unknown compounts by enzymes within the mushroom cells." (pg 56). According to this theory, bluing in these species means there is (or was) some psilocin present (don't use that as the only method of identification). Many people theorize that more blue means the mushroom is more potent, but there is no evidence for this that I know of.

In fact, it's possible that the opposite may be true. Jochen Gartz reports that in P. cubenisis, "the spontaneous bluing is a sign of a significant decomposition of the alkaloids".(1) So the blue may be the result of the destruction of psilocin...meaning the more blue a specific mushroom has on it, the less potent that mushroom is.

More likely is that the bluing has little to do with the overall content of psilocin or psilocybin. Several papers address this possibility.(2,3,4) It is known that several mushrooms which do not contain any psilocybin or psilocin, have a bluing reaction. It is also known that some mushrooms that do contain psilocybin and psilocin do not bruise at all.

At this point, the true cause of bluing, and therefore its relationship with the potency of any particular mushroom, is unknown.

The actual bluing reaction doesn't have anything to do with contamination. If one is familiar with the bluing of mushrooms, the natural bluing reaction can generally be differentiated from any mold or mildew which might grow on mushrooms.


(sorry, they're all in german)

1. GARTZ J., 1989- Bildung und Verteilung der Indolalkaloide in Fruchtkörpern, Myzelien und Sklerotien von Psilocybe cubensis. Beiträge z. Kenntnis der Pilze Mitteleuropas 5: 167-174.

2. GARTZ J., 1991- Quantitative Bestimmung der Indolderivate von Psilocybe semilanceata (Fr.) Kumm. Biochem. Physiol. Pflanzen 181: 113-128.

3. GARTZ J., 1987- Variation der Alkaloidmengen in Fruchtkörpern von Inocybe aeruginascens. Planta Med. 48: 539-541.

4. GARTZ J., 1989- Analyse der Indolderivate in Fruchtkörpern und Myzelien von Panaeolus subalteatus (Berk. & Br.) Sacc. Biochem. Physiol. Pflanzen 184: 171-178.

Asked By : salvia_addict23
Answered By : fire
Published Date : 10 / 27 / 2002
Last Edited Date : 11 / 17 / 2006
Question ID : 3002

Categories: [ Plants ]

Ask Erowid v1.7 - Jul, 2005

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