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Saturday, 24 November 2012

Gymnopilus junonius

Gymnopilus junonius is a species of mushroom in the Cortinariaceae family. Commonly known as laughing gym, laughing Jim, or the spectacular rustgill, this large orange mushroom is typically found growing on tree stumps, logs, or tree bases. Some subspecies of this mushroom contain the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin. Taxonomy This species was formerly known as Gymnopilus spectabilis, or Pholiota spectabilis v. junonia (Fr.) J.E Lange. The 'Gymn' in the present nomen means 'naked', and 'Juno' was the wife of Jupiter. In Japan this mushroom is called waraitake, which translates to "laughing mushroom" The cap ranges from 7 to 20 cm across, is convex, and is bright orange, orange/brown, or reddish brown with a dry scaly surface. The stem is 25 to 265 mm long, 8 to 9 mm thick, and often narrows near the base. The frail ring is dusted with rusty orange spores, the flesh is yellow and the gill attachment to the stem is adnate to sub-decurrent. It has a bitter taste, stains red with KOH and turns green when cooked in a pan. The spore print is rusty orange. "Each individual mushroom can weigh several pounds."Similar species This mushroom is often mistaken for Gymnopilus ventricosus, which contains no psilocybin. Distribution and habitat Gymnopilus junonius is a very widely distributed mushroom which grows in dense clusters on dead hardwoods and conifers. This mushroom grows just about everywhere that decaying wood can be found. Biochemistry This mushroom has subspecies which contain the hallucinogen psilocybin. Specimens found in the eastern US or Japan are more likely to contain psilocybin than similar mushrooms found in the western part of the US or Europe. This mushroom contains bis-noryangonin and hispidine, which are structurally related to alpha-pyrones found in kava.