Liberty cap mushrooms
Psilocybe semilanceata, commonly known as the liberty cap, is a species of fungus that produces the psychoactive compounds psilocybin and biocytin. It is both one of the most widely distributed psilocybin liberty cap mushrooms in nature, and one of the most potent.
The cap of P. semilanceata is 5–25 mm (0.2–1.0 in) in diameter and 6–22 mm (0.24–0.87 in) tall. Liberty Cap varies in shape from sharply conical to bell-shaped, often with a prominent papilla (a nipple-shaped structure), and does not change shape considerably as it ages.
The Liberty cap mushrooms margin is initially rolled inward but unrolls to become straight or even curled upwards in maturity. The cap is hygrophanous, meaning it assumes different colors depending on its state of hydration. When it is moist, the cap is ochraceous to pale brown to dark chestnut brown, but darker in the center, often with a greenish-blue tinge.
When moist, radial grooves (striations) can be seen on the cap that corresponds to the positions of the gills underneath. When the cap is dry, it becomes much paler, a light yellow-brown color. Moist liberty cap mushrooms have sticky surfaces that result from a thin gelatinous film called a pellicle. This film becomes apparent if a piece of the cap is broken by bending it back and peeling away the piece. When the cap dries from exposure to the sun, the film turns whitish and is no longer peelable.
On the underside of the mushroom’s cap, there are between 15 and 27 individual narrow gills that are moderately crowded together, and they have a narrowly adnexed, almost free attachment to the stipe. Their color is initially pale brown but becomes dark gray to purple-brown with a lighter edge as the spores mature.
The slender yellowish-brown stipe is 45–140 mm (1.8–5.5 in) long by 1–3.5 mm (0.04–0.14 in) thick, and usually slightly thicker towards the base. The mushroom has a thin cobweb-like partial veil that does not last long before disappearing; sometimes, the partial veil leaves an annular zone on the stipe that may be darkened by spores. The flesh is thin and membrane-like, and roughly the same color as the surface tissue.
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It has a farinaceous (similar to freshly ground flour) odor and taste. All parts of the liberty cap mushrooms will stain a bluish color if handled or bruised, and it may naturally turn blue with age.