Psilocybe Mexicana

Psilocybe mexicana is a species in the group of psilocybin mushrooms (also including P. tampanensis, and to a lesser extent P. cinctulus) that are known to produce sclerotia—hardened masses of mycelium that function in nature as a way for the organism to survive unfavorable conditions (nutrient depletion, drought, freezing, etc). You may hear the sclerotia of these species also called truffles, but technically this is a biological misnomer.

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From a mycological perspective, unlike sclerotia, truffles are reproductive structures—subterranean spore containers that spread their genetic payload through consumption by animals and subsequent excretion into new environments.

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True truffle-producing species are typically ectomycorrhizal,meaning their existence relies on a symbiotic relationship with specific host tree species. Though identified in close proximity to a variety of trees, P. mexicana’s preferred habitat is manure-rich grassland, which caused Paul Stamets to nickname these the “Mexican liberty cap” due to the two species’ affinity for similar environments.

Psilocybe Mexicana History

As with many of the Psilocybe species known today, Psilocybe mexicana grows natively in areas of North and Central America, where it has been used in indigenous cultural practices for over 2,000 years. Psilocybe mexicana was collected by Valentina Pavlovna Wasson and her husband Roger Gordon Wasson during a two year journey around Mexico (1953-1955) that included their visit to Maria Sabina, the Mazatec curandera credited with introducing psilocybin mushrooms to the world.

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After their trip (in both senses of the word), the Wassons sent samples of P. mexicana to the French mycologist Roger Heim, who returned to Mexico to characterize the species and cultivate it under laboratory conditions in the following years. Lab-grown samples were then sent to the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann who self-experimented with the mushrooms, before extracting and characterising psilocybin and psilocin in 1958, 20 years after he first synthesised LSD.

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