Psilocybe pelliculosa — Gelatinous-skinned psilocybe

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Gelatinous-skinned psilocybe2, photograph by Paul Kroeger.

Odour: Unremarkable, slightly farinaceous.
Cap: 0.5-2 cm in diameter, conical when young, becoming more convex with age but at least half a high as broad. When moist, yellowish or orangish brown, translucent, the gills showing through as delicate radiating lines. The outer 'skin' of the cap can be peeled off when specimens are fresh and moist. Caps change to opaque buff as they dry and may become somewhat greenish or bluish if bruised.
Gills: Close to one another, attached to stipe as well as cap, coloured grey or grey-brown when young and darkening to purplish brown with age.
Stems: 3-10 cm long x 0.1-0.3 cm wide, slender, pale yellow-brown when young to brownish with silky fibrils. Become somewhat greenish or bluish where touched and bruised.
Ring or veil: Inconspicuous, a few fibers remaining around the stem, or absent.
Cup or volva: None.
Spores: 9.5-11 x 5-7 µm, smooth, ellipsoid with a germ pore.
Other microscopic characters: "Cheilocystidia", specialized, enlarged cells with a finger-like projection form a band hanging down from gill edges.
Habitat: In soil, duff and woody debris, on debris from forest clear-cuts, on woodchips in urban areas1,5; saprotrophic.
Geographical range: Western North America, northern California through BC; east to Idaho.

Small brown mushroom are not risk-free edible species. Anyone considering recreational use of foraged Psilocybe species should learn to recognize and avoid consuming any of the other small, brown mushrooms that contain deadly toxins. Make a spore print of each mushroom. If the spores are dark purplish brown, the mushroom may be a Psilocybe. If the spore print is rusty brown or cinnamon brown, the mushroom is not a Psilocybe and may be a Galerina or Conocybe species that contains potent, liver-destroying amatoxins.

Galerina marginata

NOT Psilocybe species! Toxic Galerina marginata, photograph by Adolf Ceska.

Among and even within wild Psilocybe species, concentrations of hallucinogens vary greatly. Psilocybe semilanceata and Psilocybe cyanescens are common species that typically have significantly higher concentrations of hallucinogens than P. pelliculosa. Psilocybe semilanceata is similar to P. pelliculosa in form but more likely to grow in grass than in forests. Psilocybe cyanescens is common in woodchips and caps expand more widely, becoming broadly convex to plane and wavy. At 1.5-4 cm in diameter, caps of P. cyanescens tend to be somewhat larger than P. pelliculosa.

Bad reactions to 'Psilocybe' can have multiple causes, from mistakes in mushroom identification, possible adulteration, to anxiety issues before taking the mushroom. If Galerina mushrooms have been consumed by error, serious liver and kidney damage may result.

Toxins: Low concentrations of psilocybin, which is metabolized to psilocin.
Symptoms: Time of onset, 20-30 min after ingestion, usually lasting 6-8 (15) hours. Symptoms include visual and auditory hallucinations, dilation of pupils, confusion, loss of control of body movements, psychosis, nausea and vomiting. Severe reactions can include elevated levels of methemoblobin leading to oxygen deficiency in tissues, fever and seizures. Children may be more likely to experience severe reactions.
Treatment: Contact your regional Poison Control Centre if you realize you or someone you know has become ill after eating any psilocybe mushrooms. Poison centres provide free, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If possible, save the mushrooms or some of the leftover food containing the mushrooms to help confirm identification.

Poison Control:
British Columbia: 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911.
United States (WA, OR, ID): 1-800-222-1222.

MyCoPortal. Mycology Collections Portal, <> accessed March 2018.

Specimen Psilocybe pelliculosa UBC F30973, GenBank #MF955161.

Siegel, N. & Schwarz, C. Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast. A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, California (2016).

Singer, R. & Smith, A. H. Mycological investigations on Teonanácatl, the Mexican hallucinogenic mushroom. Part II. A taxonomic monograph of Psilocybe, section Caerulescentes. Mycologia 50, 262-303, doi:10.2307/3756197 (1958).

UBC. University of British Columbia Herbarium Database, <> accessed February 1, 2018.

Specimen Galerina marginata UBC F28078 MO 119849, GenBank #MF954815.

Berger, K. J. & Guss, D. A. Mycotoxins revisited: Part II. J. Emerg. Med. 28, 175-183, doi:10.1016/j.jemermed.2004.08.019 (2005).

Leikin, J. B. & Paloucek, F. P. Poisoning and Toxicology Handbook, 4th ed., CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida (2008).