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Magic Mushroom: Psilocybe semilanceata AKA THE LIBERTY CAP MUSHROOM

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

When we began the journey to explore magic mushroom strains a while back, you can recall that we mentioned how naming and taxonomy of magic mushrooms could be daunting because of the discrete and unique characteristics that could exist within a single family alone. Case in point, the articles on Magic mushroom strains (Part 1 - 4) have all been variations under the family of Psilocybe Cubensis. Mind blown yet? Well, today we are going to be branching out to explore Psilocybe Semilanceata popularly known as Liberty Cap.

Liberty Cap Mushroom Cluster In The Wild
Liberty Cap Mushroom Cluster

What is the Psilicybe Semilanceata? (Liberty Cap Mushroom)

Psilocybe Semilanceata popularly known as the Liberty Cap Mushroom is a popular species of psychoactive mushrooms containing distinctive compounds of psilocybin, psilocin and baeocystin (one of the lesser studied compounds). The reason for its popularity can be directly linked to its potency which is among the top 3 strongest magic mushroom species (as shown by mycologists Paul Stamets and Jochen Gartz).

Take note that I used the term species. The ratio of the psychoactive substances within a single species alone is quite vast as seen during our exploration of strains and their potency. For more reference, you can check out our article on Magic mushroom here. All the parts are available in the blog (learning center of the website). The reason why the Cubensis family is the most popular is because of how easy it is to cultivate which has also led to more research carried out on it.


Psilicybe Semilanceata asides from going by Liberty cap, also goes by other pseudonyms such as Blue Legs, Pixie Caps and Witches Hats. Like other interesting origin stories, Liberty cap has its own very fascinating story. We’ll be looking at two histories (Taxonomy and First Mention).

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First Mention Of the Psilocybe

The first mention of LIberty cap goes as far back as 1799 captured in London Medical and Physical Journal to a family that happened upon the unsuspecting mushroom in London’s Green Park and used it for breakfast that day. Shortly after consuming their meal, the father and his four children had psilocybin-like symptoms such as dilated pupils, spontaneous laughing, and dizziness. The family's father even thought he was dying at one point whereas others experienced visual stimulations and vertigo. This account was documented by chemist Augustus Everard Brande. This is a rather significant record as it was the first reported trip in Europe’s history.

Taxonomical history

It was not until 1838 that the species was identified as a native to Europe and first documented as Agaricus semilanceatus by Elias Magnus Fries. It underwent several reclassifications and that was how it was moved to the Psilocybe genus. This Psilocybe species gained popularity in the 1960s thanks to French botanist Roger Heim and Albert Hofmann who identified its psychoactive properties.


Looking back to the first mention in 1799, James Sowerby’s illustrations of the fungi in his 1803 book Coloured Figures of English Fungi or Mushrooms, describes it similar to its common lookalike Protostropharia semiglobata. Liberty cap has a distinctive appearance unlike most other Psilocybe mushrooms. It has a conical-bell-shaped/spear-shaped cap from which the name “semilanceata” (meaning “spear-shaped” in Latin) comes from. This cap retains its form throughout the life cycle.

Its name as liberty cap can be traced back to have revolutionary connotation: In the late Roman Empire, free males (non-slaves) wore a pileus, a soft felted hat. When a slave was released, they were given a pileus as a sign of their freedom and the opportunity to vote (if male). The Latin word pileus means “cap,” and in mushroom taxonomy, it refers to the “cap” of a mushroom.

Wild Liberty Cap Mushroom Cluster
Liberty Cap Mushroom Growing In the Wild

  • Pileus: Liberty caps have a cap diameter of roughly 5-25 mm (0.2-1.0 in) and a height of 5-10 cm (2-4 in) which allows them to easily blend in with grasses.

  • Gills: On the underside of the mushroom's cap, there are between 15 and 27 individual narrow gills that are moderately crowded together. Their color is initially pale brown, but becomes dark grey to purple-brown with a lighter edge as the spores mature.

  • Spore print: deep reddish purple-brown color

  • Stipe: The slender yellowish-brown stipe is 4–15 cm (1.5–6 in) long by 1–3.5 mm thick, and usually slightly thicker towards the base.

  • Veil: 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.

  • Taste and odor: farinaceous

  • Stain: All parts of the mushroom will stain a bluish color if handled or bruised, and it may naturally turn blue with age.


Overall, what we look for in mushroom species is the average concentration of Psilocybin. This is because Psilocybin is more stable than Psilocin. Several tests have been carried out to determine the amount contained in the P. Semilanceata species and this particular species has produced the highest amount of psylocybin found at 2.37% in a dry sample. Although this may be the case, average concentrations sits at around 1%.

Studies from Tjakko Stijve and Thom Kuyper discovered a concentration of psilocybin of 1.7 percent dry weight in a single specimen in 1985, with a concentration of baeocystin of 0.36 percent. Gartz reported in 1993 that P. semilanceata contained an average of 1.0 percent psilocybin by dry weight, with a range of 0.2-2.37 percent psilocybin. Michael Beug and Jeremy Bigwood discovered psilocybin concentrations ranging from 0.62-1.28 percent in Pacific Northwest specimens, with an average of 1 percent. Psilocybe cubensis contains 0.14-0.42 percent psilocin and 0.37-1.30 percent psilocybin, respectively.

You would expect a large amount of bruising, but P. Semilanceata only bruises a little at the base of the cap compared to other mushrooms. This could be misleading in terms of potency by don’t let them fool you. This species is more potent than P. Cubensis and should be treated as such.


Because the body has to break down the psilocybin into psilocin before the effects are felt, the high concentration of psilocybin in P. Semilanceata mushrooms frequently result in an extremely visual experience that lasts longer than those of other species. Several studies on the effects of P. semilanceata eating have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Typical symptoms include color, dimension, and shape abnormalities, which lead to visual hallucinations. The effects are comparable to, but weaker than, those experienced after taking LSD

Similar to the 1799 family, pupil dilation, elevated heart rate, bad mood, and over responsive reflexes are all common negative effects of mushroom use. The effect on mood in particular is reliant on the individual's pre-exposure personality features as is typical of the symptoms associated with psilocybin mushroom intake, and similar doses of psilocybin may have dramatically varying effects in different persons. Recall Set and setting.

Although the majority of cases of intoxication resolve without incident, there have been unusual cases with serious outcomes, particularly after greater doses or prolonged usage. In one instance recorded in Poland in 1998, an 18-year-old male experienced Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, arrhythmia, and myocardial infarction after using P. semilanceata on a regular basis for a month. It was proposed that the heart injury and myocardial infarction were caused by either coronary vasoconstriction or platelet hyperaggregation and blockage of tiny coronary arteries.


As a native of Europe, Blue Legs have been identified as one of the most widespread species of mushroom in terms of its natural habitats as it is prevalent across most of the northern hemisphere. They prefer rich and acidic soil, like grasslands, meadows, pastures, and lawns, especially ones fertilized with sheep or cow manure. Because this is such a common environment around the world (think lawns, gardens, soccer fields), they grow in many countries throughout Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Finland, Iceland, Russia, and Turkey.

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They also grow in North America, on the West Coast from California to British Columbia in the fall to early winter, and to a lesser extent on the East Coast from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, Canada. Plus, some varieties are known to grow in the Southern Hemisphere too. It grows in both fall and spring; in the northern hemisphere, it grows from August to November and then again from May to June. It grows in the southern hemisphere from April to May and then again from September to October. It prefers maritime environments.

Although they grow all throughout the world, they are extremely difficult to produce indoors, hence the majority of Liberty Caps consumed are harvested in the wild. However, be cautious while recognizing them because they are readily mistaken for a few dangerous species that appear similar and grow in the same locations.

Did you know?

Did you know that in laboratory testing, P. semilanceata was found to be an effective inhibitor of the soil-borne water mold strain Phytophthora cinnamomi (a significant cause of plant root rot). P. semilanceata was also found to have substantial antibacterial action against the human pathogen methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in another investigation, albeit the mechanisms behind this effect are unclear. So, mycologists and psychonauts, do with this what you may.


The Psilocybe Semilanceata species is ranked third in its potency as a naturally occurring psychoactive fungus. Its potency even rivals the more common Psilocybe Cubensis and produces more visual experiences that causes users to see colors etc. Its history and unique appearance of a conical-shaped cap earned it the name Liberty cap, bruising a little only around the base - Blue legs and Witches’ hat. Want to know how to grow magic mushrooms? If you want to grow your own magic mushrooms in a psilocybin magic mushroom grow kit check out the ZoomBag Magic Mushroom Grow Kit which we sell here!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment on what you're expecting to see next. Until next time, stay safe.

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