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There are more than 1 dozen species of "magic mushrooms" in Australia and New Zealand. Four of these species are dung (manure) inhabiting mushrooms. They include Psilocybe cubensis and/or Psilocybe subcubensis (known locally as "gold caps" and/or "gold tops"), Psilocybe subaeruginosa, and Copelandia cyanescens (the latter is known locally as "blue meanies"). These four species contain the mind altering alkaloids psilocybine and psilocine and are the most common hallucinogenic mushrooms in Australia. In New Zealand, the most commonly used species are Copelandia cyanescens and Psilocybe semilanceata, the latter species is recognized throughout the world as the "liberty cap"). This species only occurs in manured soil and does not grow directly from the dung of cattle, sheep or other four legged farm animals. Psilocybe cubensis the most popular of these species, is well known throughout much of the world; however, this species is not known to occur in New Zealand. Other species described in this guide are known to occur in manured soil, in pastures, meadows, grazing lands, some lawns and in the bark mulch and woodchips of deciduous woods.
The majority of adverse physical effects or negative psychological reactions produced by "magic mushrooms" generally result from inappropriate set and expectation, or because of improper dosage, which may vary considerably among consumers, different mushroom species, or even within an individual species. The question of dosage is often confused by the variation in the source of the hallucinogenic mushroom species which is consumed. For example, Psilocybe cubensis, when picked and eaten from its natural dung (manure) habitat, produces a relatively mild mindaltering experience, which is evident from the large amounts of fresh specimens needed to achieve a threshold experience. However when grown in vitro (indoor laboratory cultivation and/or illicit cultivation), Psilocybe cubensis apparently can produce a more potent strain capable of inducing a very intense visual, sometimes quite disturbing, experience. This dosage assumes that the consumption of 1 to 3 gm of dried material would be too low if the mushroom specimen came from a wild source. This low potency for Psilocybe cubensis has been confirmed by research scientists Margot & Watling, (1981), who were surprised by the comparatively small amounts of psilocybin and psilocin which they extracted from wild specimens collected from five different locations in Australia. This suggests that a much larger dose would be required to produce significant hallucinations. It is possible that the chemicals most likely degenerated between the time that they were harvested and the time of analysis. However, it should be noted that a strain of Psilocybe cubensis producing different flushes (harvests) will vary somewhat in potency between flushes. The Mazatec Indians, who have a long tradition of using the mushrooms, inhabit a range of mountains called the Sierra Mazateca in the northeastern corner of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The shamans in this essay are all natives of the town of Huautla de Jimenez. Properly speaking they are Huautecans; but since the language they speak has been called Mazatec and they have been referred to in the previous anthropological literature as Mazatecs, I have retained that name, though strictly speaking, Mazatecs are the inhabitants of the village of Mazatlan in the same mountains.
Most recreational users of Psilocybe cubensis (when grown in vitro) require a dosage of 1 to 2 gm of dried mushrooms to produce an altered state of consciousness; a clinical dosage for Psilocybe cubensis, on the other hand, had previously been reported as ranging from 3 to 5 gm of dried material. This dosage would be comparable to the amount of fungal material consumed for religious purposes in a Mazatec Indian healing and curing ceremony. In 1982, one research team "found that the level of psilocybin and psilocin varies over a factor of 4 among various in vitro cultures of Psilocybe cubensis, while specimens from outdoors varied tenfold." A fresh dosage of Psilocybe cubensis in Australia would be approximately from 1 to 2 large mushrooms weighing up to as much as one fresh ounce, or as many as from 25 to 50 small mushrooms equaling the same weight amount. Ethnopharmacologist Jonathan Ott (1976, 1993) noted that he has observed "the ingestion of from 0.5 gm to 5.9 gm dried weight (10 gm to 40 gm fresh)", of various species of Psilocybe. Dosage for Psilocybe subcubensis would be the same as for Psilocybe cubensis. Both of these latter two species are macroscopically alike. The usual dosage for Copelandia cyanescens required to induce psychedelic visual effects ranges from 1 to 3 large specimens (cap diameter c. 5 mm), or as many as 5 to l0 medium-sized mushrooms (cap diameter c. 2.5 mm); however, personal tolerance to this species may occur with continued use, and some who consume large amounts of this mushroom have reportedly ingested as many as 50 to 200 fresh specimens of various sizes. Those who ingest Copelandia cyanescens, known in The Mazatec Indians, who have a long tradition of using the mushrooms, inhabit a range of mountains called the Sierra Mazateca in the northeastern corner of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The shamans in this essay are all natives of the town of Huautla de Jimenez. Properly speaking they are Huautecans; but since the language they speak has been called Mazatec and they have been referred to in the previous anthropological literature as Mazatecs, I have retained that name, though strictly speaking, Mazatecs are the inhabitants of the village of Mazatlan in the same mountains. Mind-altering (psilocybine containing) mushrooms have been traditionally used in religious healing and curing ceremonies by native Mind-altering (psilocybine containing) mushrooms have been traditionally used in religious healing and curing ceremonies by native Most recreational users of Psilocybe cubensis (when grown in vitro) require a dosage of
More than half of Australia's beef cattle can be found in the coastal areas of Queensland More than half of Australia's beef cattle can be found in the coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales; and the 20 to 30 inch (500-750mm) rainfall belt of Queensland, New South Wales and Northern Victoria, generally provide adequate climatic environments for the growth of psilocybian mushrooms, especially after heavy rains. It has been suggested that "Psilocybe cubensis was introduced into Australia accidentally by early settlers along with their livestock." This same spore dispersal mechanism also probably applies to Copelandia cyanescens, Panaeolus subbalteatus and several additional species known to occur in or around the dung of other ruminants. This includes Psilocybe semilanceata and the non-hallucinogenic "haymaker's" mushroom Panaeolina foenisecii. While cattle are raised in all Australian states, as well as in the central lowlands, recreational users have been known to export these psychoptic species to various areas in Australia from areas where they were collected. In the case of New Zealand, hereafter referred to as NZ, cattle are the primary source for Copelandia cyanescens, but the "liberty cap" mushroom Psilocybe semilanceata only grows in the manured soil of four-legged ruminants and not directly from manure (Jansen, Pers. Comm., 1988). The identification section of this guide documents reported locations for more than 1 dozen species of psilocybian mushrooms in Australia and NZ which most likely have been used at one time or another for recreational purposes. Those who ingest Copelandia cyanescens, known in The question of dosage is often confused by the variation in the source of the hallucinogenic mushroom species which is consumed. As they say, ʼTis the season to be pickingʼ, but make
Mind-altering (psilocybine containing) mushrooms have been traditionally used in religious healing and curing ceremonies by native peoples in Mesoamerica for more than 3,000 years. Today, the recreational use of hallucinogenic fungi by Westerners is widespread, especially in various regions of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Great Britain, Europe (especially in the Netherlands), Scandinavia, South America, Southeast Asia, India, Bali, Samoa; Australia and New Zealand. The modern, non-traditional use of
hallucinogenic mushrooms has been stimulated, by media reports in newspapers, magazines, word-of-mouth communication, the
World Wide Web and Internet, and also by the scholarly and popular journal publications of the renown ethnomycologist R. Gordon
Wasson, (Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, traveler Jeremy Sanford, health guru Andrew Weil, and others (see Allen , Merlin &Jansen, 1991).This field guide reviews the history of both the accidental and purposeful use of psychoactive mushrooms in Australia and New
Zealand. Information in this guide has been gathered from personal experiences in Australia by the author and from reports in the scientific literature, news items appearing in the popular press, and personal communications with Australian and New Zealand (NZ)
professionals (Unsigned 1970; O'Neill, 1986).
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