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Thursday, 8 November 2012

Chocolate to Purple Colored Spores and SporePrints

In order to properly identify and key a particular species of fungi to its genus one must first make a spore print. A spore print will tell which family a particular species of mushroom belongs to. First cut the stem from off of the mushroom cap and then place the cap of the mushroom face down on a piece of white paper. Next place an empty jar over the cap of the mushroom. This will allow the spores of the mushroom to settle on the paper below and the glass jar will keep the spores from blowing away. After 20 minutes or more, remove the jar from the paper and lift the mushroom cap from the paper. Psilocybian mushrooms described in this guide can be identified by an enzyme which occurs in fungi containing the alkaloids psilocybine and/or psilocine, with an indole nucleus and producing by an oxidative process, a blue pigment. When the flesh of the stem or cap of a fresh mushroom is bruised or damaged (whether from human handling, wind, insects or falling objects), an enzyme occurs which oxidizes as it comes into contact with air. This causes the damaged area of the mushroom to turn blue or blue green. Many species of psilocybian fungi have stems ranging in color from a pallid yellow white to an off white. Bluing in psilocybian mushrooms is common after damage has occurred. The bluing reaction occurs within 10 to 20 minutes after human handling but may already be noticeable in fungi damaged from natural elements and from bluing with aging. The genus Psilocybe is quite large, consisting of over 246 known species. More than 130 of these Psilocybe species are entheogenic. Psilocybe species have a wide variety of habitats which include: dung, manured soil, sandy soil, pastures, meadows, lawns, woods, among decayed twigs and leaves, sphagnum moss, woodchips and bark mulch. Psilocybe species have certain characteristics common throughout the genus. These include: a conic to bell shaped cap, usually with a nipple or umbo at the top. The margins of the caps are often incurved when young. Some caps become convex and flat with age, others become wavy. The caps are viscid when moist and the margin is translucent-striate (meaning that the lines of the gill plates are visible on the caps when moist). Psilocybe species have a viscid pellicle (a film or membrane which can easily be separated from the cap). Colors of the caps may range from a dark olive brown or chestnut rusty color when fresh to pale yellow when dried. The caps are hygrophanous, meaning that they change color as they dry. A slight bluing may occur along the outer edges of the caps when damaged. In some species this bluing is very intense. The color of the gills may range from cinnamon brown to dark chocolate or purple brown. The color of the spores are also chocolate to purple brown. The stems are hollow with a fine pith. Some species such as Psilocybe semilanceata (the "liberty cap") can be wrapped around the finger like a piece of string. Certain varieties (Psilocybe cubensis and/or Psilocybe subcubensis, Psilocybe fimetaria and Psilocybe stuntzii) usually have a dark chocolate-purple ring around the top of the stem where the mushroom cap has detached itself from the stem. The purple color of the ring on the stems of some Psilocybe species is due to spores falling on the stem after the cap of the mushrooms has opened. The color of the stems may range from a pallid yellow or yellow-brown to olive brown while other species have pure white stems. Bluing on the white stemmed varieties is usually very intense. In some regions, some species occur throughout the year depending on their locations and and climatic environments. There are, of course, certain chemical applications used to speed up the bluing reaction which occurs in psilocybian mushrooms. One method involves "metol", a chemical used in photographic developing. "Metol" can be legally purchased from any camera and photographic supply outlet. Mix 1 part Metol with 20 parts water. Place the stem of the suspected mushroom in a "metol" solution and wait for approximately 1/2 hour. If the solution turns blue, you have actually collected a mushroom containing psilocybine.