Psilocybe Cubensis was officially identified by R. Gordon Wasson, former Vice President of J.P. Morgan Chase and a hobbyist mycologist. In 1957 he wrote an article published in Life magazine entitled "Seeking the Magic Mushroom", in which he described his psilocybin experience during a shamanic ceremony. Wasson was traveling in Mexico when he met a famed shaman, Maria Sabina, who agreed to let him take part in the ceremony, the first time a "westerner" had been allowed to do so. Wasson returned from this trip with a sample of the mushrooms and sent them to Albert Hoffman, the Swiss chemist credited with the discovery of LSD, who cataloged the existence of 4 psychoactive compounds contained by the mushroom. These compounds and their approximate concentration are psilocybin (0.65%), psilocin (0.60%), baeocysin (0.025%) and norbaeocystin (negligible). P. Cubensis is arguably the most common species and certainly the easiest to cultivate. In nature they are a moderatly potent species however extensive genetic isolation performed by many both amateur and professional mycologists has exponentially raised the potency of the species. Drastic differences in both appearance and potency can be found in the over 60 cataloged "strains" with some, notably Penis Envy containing up to 50% higher levels of psilocybin/psilocin
Psilocybe cubensis, like all mushrooms of the Psilocybe genus, have a hygrophanous nature, meaning their coloration shifts depending on hydration levels, however it is important to note that this trait is less pronounced in the P. cubensis species. They turn a bluish color when handled or bruised, due to the oxidization of psilocin. The underside of the pileus is densely gilled, and they possess a thin gelatinous veil (pellicle) separating the pileus and stipe.
Pileus (caps) generally measure from 15-80mm in diameter. Early in the fruiting cycle they are often concical opening to broadly convex, frequently with a central umbo (bump) that remains as the cap opens out, becoming almost plane in maturity. Pileus coloration ranges from reddish cinnamon brown in young fruiting bodies and fades to a golden caramel or pale yellow when mature. Caps are sometimes darker at the centre, and speckled or mottled white throughout.
Lamella (gills) on the underside of the cap are moderately crowded, narrow at margins and slightly enlarged in the centre. Starting out pale greyish, they gradually darken and by full maturity become a purplish brown, often retaining paler at the edges. Lamella show through as lines or striations on the outer part of the cap when fresh and under favourable lighting conditions.
Stipe (stem/stalk) ranges from 40-150mm long and 5-15mm thick, and thickens towards the base in most strains (Transkei cubensis being a notable exception to this). Often the stipe is slightly curved, however relatively stiff and non-pliable. Whitish in colour, sometimes discoloured near the base and discolours slightly yellowish when dry. Also will quickly bruise blue when handled fresh. The stipe surface is smooth and often striated near the apex, above the annular zone. The base is frequently covered with white fluffy mycelial tufts.
Spores Dark purplish to brown when deposited and darkening with age, subellipsoid shape. Microscopic size ranging from 11.5-17 x 8-11 micrometers
Psilocybe Cubensis has a farinaceous (similar to freshly ground flour) odor and taste.
Psilocybe Cubensis, unlike most other Psilocybe members who prefer lichenous substrate, is found in nature fruiting on the dung of various bovines, or on well manured grounds. It has a well established natural range and has been observed throughout the southwestern United States, Mexico, Cuba, Central America, South America, India, Southeast Asia, and Australia.
Psilocybe cubensis can be observed in nature as visually congruent to the description above, however under artificial conditions it can be drastically different in appearance and effect. It has been favoured for decades among mycologists and cultivators because it is highly adaptable to a range of environments and more resistant to contamination than other Psilocybes. This specie as undergone extensive genetic isolation over the course of many decades, and therefore has artificially evolved increased potency and drastically varied visual characteristics. There now exist over 60 distinct Psilocybe Cubensis "strains"