Psilocybe semilanceata

Psilocybe Semilanceata if you’ve ever hunted for mushrooms in a nearby forest or pasture, then you probably already know: It’s not easy to tell mushrooms apart. Even professional mycologists get it wrong sometimes. Mushroom identification has always encouraged animated debate. Whether you’re out on a foray, or at home on a forum, there’ll always be a second opinion (or third, or fourth) as to what exact mushroom you’re looking at. Things get even more animated when the mushroom in question might be unknown to science, but may closely resemble other named species—as is the case with Psilocybe allenii. 

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First, some background: Small differences in the way a mushroom looks might indicate a possible new species, or it could just be part of the wide variability of the characteristics of a known species. With modern advances in rapid genetic sequencing, you would think such arguments could be easily settled, but this is not always the case.

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Deciding where the genetic code of one species ends and another begins can also be widely contested. Psilocybe semilanceata In most cases, such debates are considered settled when a group of scientists provides sufficient evidence of these differences. The evidence is usually a combination of visual characteristics and genetic markers for a species to be considered “new.” Once this evidence is accepted by the wider scientific community, the original researchers who did the hard work get the opportunity to name their new discovery. In the world of mycology, this story plays out with Psilocybe allenii, which received its formal distinction from Psilocybe semilanceata in 2012.

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Psilocybe semilanceata In the past, Psilocybe allenii has slipped by even experienced mycologists. Published photographs were often attributed to incorrect or unknown species, from as far back as the late 1970s. Mycologist and writer David Aurora is widely thought to have attributed photos of this species to Psilocybe cyanescens in his 1979 book, Mushrooms Demystified. Even Paul Stamets, in his 2005 book Mycelium Running, is also thought to have included a photo of Psilocybe allenii, describing it as a “probably new, or at least newly imported species.” In online mycology forums from the mid-2000s, Psilocybe allenii was known informally as Psilocybe semilanceata due to its similarity to Psilocybe cyanescens (“cyano”) and the fact this species is mostly observed around San Francisco (“friscosa”).

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