Magic Mushroom Species vs. Strain

Magic Mushroom Species vs. Strain

Magic mushroom species vs strain? Is there a difference between a species and strain?

Do mushrooms even have strains to begin with?

If you’ve looked into different kinds of psilocybin mushrooms, you’ve undoubtedly come across a range of new terminology, including the reference to different varieties of mushrooms as both species and strains, leaving you wondering what the difference is between a magic mushroom species and a strain.

Many cultivators and vendors use the term “strain” similarly to how it would be used for cannabis, and while this comparison can be helpful to understand the classification of psilocybin mushrooms, it differs from how cannabis is classified. It can be said that strains of magic mushrooms don’t even technically exist. So what are people calling strains exactly? Read on to discover the difference between magic mushroom species vs. strains.

Magic Mushroom Species

Psilocybin-containing genera include Conocybe, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Panaeolus, Pluteus, and the most commonly known Psilocybe. Within these genera are over 200 species of psilocybin mushrooms, which is denoted by the latter part of Latin binomial nomenclature, for example, Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe cyanescens (read more about the taxonomy of magic mushrooms). Regarding species, this can be related to cannabis, of which there is only 3 recognized species (Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and the lesser known Cannabis ruderalis which some consider a variation of Cannabis sativa).

Magic Mushroom Species vs. Strain
Are you confused by the whole magic mushroom species vs. strain debate?

Magic Mushroom Strain vs. Subspecies

What cultivators and vendors may call magic mushroom strains are more accurately magic mushroom subspecies. This is where the relationship between cannabis taxonomy becomes different, as different cannabis strains are not different subspecies of cannabis, and some even classify Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica as subspecies rather than distinct species. Most subspecies of magic mushrooms derive from the species Psilocybe cubensis through genetic isolation. You can read about those different subspecies, or “strains” as they may be called, on Frshmind’s Psilocybe Cubensis Subspecies Guide.


So if cannabis strains aren’t the same as psilocybin mushrooms strains and aren’t subspecies, how are they classified? They are either pure or hybrid varieties of Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. As mentioned above the species Cannabis ruderalis is sometimes referred to as a variety of Cannabis sativa. A variety is a taxonomic rank below species and subspecies. There are several species of psilocybin mushrooms that have different varieties, such as Psilocybe liniformans liniformans and Psilocybe liniformans americana. Though these may be considered “strains”, most are referring to the different subspecies of Psilocybe cubensis.

You can read more about what classifies a psilocybin mushroom and the 4 most common species here, and if you’re curious about trying psilocybin mushrooms for mental wellness, it’s recommended you speak with a psychedelic integration therapist beforehand. You can find one from our listing on Frshminds.

Magic Mushrooms 101

If you are looking to get up to speed on magic mushrooms, these articles on Frshminds will get you there in no time:

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About the Author

Passionate about studying the psychedelic/mystical experience from a neuropsychological lens, Emily is a member of MAPS Canada Research Committee and graduated with an Honours BSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology from York University.  She currently leads a team of RAS with a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial investigating microdosing psilocybin for persistent depressive disorder.

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