Don't Eat Psilocybe Semilanceata aka the Liberty Cap Before Reading This

Psilocybe Semilanceata/Liberty Cap: Read This First

Thinking about going on a special journey to free your mind and soul? Liberate the grime from your Third Eye by consuming psilocybe semilanceata, Liberty Cap. During your experience, they may have you feeling like the climax of the 1812 Overture as your senses explode like cannons.

Liberty Caps Make the Grass Look Greener

Psilocybe semilanceata will make the grass look greener on the other side of the fence. Liberty Caps grow best in grassland habitat, in particular wet areas. The European native, grass loving mushroom favors temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. However, they can also be found in temperate regions of the southern hemisphere. After their diaspora from Europe (heavy on the spore), Liberty Caps have sprouted in the northeastern parts of Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and as far as Chile and New Zealand.

The Liberty Cap loves rich, acidic soil, but doesn’t grow on dung like it’s coprophagic cousin psilocybe cubensis. Instead the saprobic Liberty Cap favors rotting and decaying grass roots. However, it thrives on lawns and finds fields near farmyards and pastures filled with cow pies quite attractive.

Due to the lack of complexity of its preferred environment, the mushroom reigns as one of the world’s most widely distributed. Its wide range results from ease of spread by humans and animals. Seeing a Liberty Cap in the wild will make the grass look greener in an instant. The grass is indeed greener in these parts of the United States for mushroom foraging. But how do you identify a Liberty Cap?

Identifying Psilocybe Semilanceata in the Wild

The slender, tall field mushroom boasts a distinct look. The thin stem supports a cap shaped a bit like a garden gnome’s hat, with a nipple at the top. The Liberty Cap can grow to just over an inch in diameter for the biggest specimens, and up to almost an inch tall. You might say that it’s a tiny “booby cap.”

Disclaimer: The information posted on this site is not meant to serve as a field guide and/or replace expert knowledge as many mushrooms are poisonous some are deadly poisonous and is purely informational.  The responsibility for eating any mushroom or fungus must rest with the individual.  If you plan to collect fungi to be eaten, misidentified mushrooms can make you sick or kill you. Do not eat mushrooms you are not 100% certain of.  Frshminds takes no responsibility for damage caused by wrong identifications. If you continue, you agree to view this website under these terms.

The edges of the cap change during its life cycle. In its adolescence, the cap edges turn inward. As the mushroom ages, the edges will flatten out, and sometimes even turn upward. The mushroom relies heavily on water, and its current state of hydration influences the color of the cap. The cap can range from pale brown, to dark brown, and a light yellowish brown color as it loses moisture.

When the Liberty Cap is moist, a sticky, gelatinous film protects it, giving it something in common with the floor of a movie theater. The film can be peeled back when its fresh, but will turn white as it dries up.

Psilocybe semilanceata holds the distinction of not bruising as easy as other psilocybe species. More often than not, when bruised, the stipe will turn blue. This provides the mushroom it’s other nickname, “blue legs.” The tough, diminutive mushroom also boasts another rugged feature. The fibrous stem shouldn’t snap in your fingers, like other psilocybe species. Given their toughness and resilience, they have the willpower to handle a slap as good as Chris Rock. But you don’t care about slaps. Do Liberty Caps pack a punch?

Liberty Cap Psilocybin Potency

In 1799, the world’s first reported use of Liberty Caps came thanks to an English family who foraged for some mushrooms in London’s Green Park. Of course the man found psilocybe semilanceata and fed them to his four children…for breakfast! Talk about breakfast of champions! A wild brunch ensued involving delirium, vertigo, dilated pupils and uncontrollable laughter.

Liberty Caps
Liberty Caps

Getting liberated on Liberty Caps for breakfast with your four children, isn’t the best recommendation, but to each his own. That said, if you start seeing beefeaters dancing a jig on top of the Tower of London, rest assured you’ve gotten tied into a quality batch of psilocybe semilanceata. In fact, Liberty Caps are some of the most potent psychedelic mushrooms.

Liberty Caps contain 3 psychoactive substances: psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystin. They have been analyzed numerous times with varying results. In 1985, Tjakko Stijve and Thom Kuyper analyzed a single psilocybe semilanceata specimen. They found psilocybin concentrated at 1.7 percent dry weight with baeocystin concentrated at 0.36 percent.

Later in 1993, a Liberty Cap study found an average of 1 percent psilocbyin dry weight, with a range spanning 0.2 to 2.37 percent. Another study conducted by Michael Beug and Jeremy Bigwood analyzed Pacific Northwest specimens, finding similar variations. They reported psilocybin concentrations ranging from 0.62-1.28 percent, with a 1 percent average. In a Norwegian analysis, psilocybin content in dried mushrooms ranged  from 0.17 to 1.96%. One percent, less than one percent, this doesn’t sound like much, right? WRONG!

One percent of psilocybin in a mushroom makes for a healthy percentage. Compare these percentages to psilocybe cubensis. Cubensis contains ranges of psilocin at 0.14-0.42 percent and psilocybin at 0.37-1.30 percent. With Liberty Caps hitting the ceiling at an astonishing 2.37%, this makes the species a psychedelic hulk. In fact, 2.37% is the highest concentration of psilocybin ever recorded in a mushroom.

This psilometric scale of comparative potency of selected psilocybe mushrooms shows different sample averages. Liberty Caps rank third in the list. However, these sample averages are limited and don’t represent species wide averages. Regardless, depending on the potency of the Liberty Caps in your possession, they can vary from moderate to extreme.

What’s the Correct Psilocybe Semilanceata/Liberty Cap Dosage?

Since the amount of psilocybin varies wildly in Liberty Caps, dosages also span a wide range. Of course an active dose depends on many factors such as body weight and sensitivity to psilocybin, among others. Some people report experiencing psychedelic effects eating less than 10 fresh Liberty Caps. Due to their smurf-like stature, other people report eating 20, sometimes even upwards of 40, to achieve a full psychedelic dose.

In order to take the uncertainty out of a guessing game of Liberty Cap roulette, try using this mushroom dosage calculator. Also considering consulting this psilocybin dosage sweet spot discovered by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the patriarch of psychedelic science, Roland Griffiths, Ph.D.

Drawbacks of Liberty Cap Consumption

As with any psychoactive substance, the psilocybin in Liberty Caps isn’t meant to be taken like you’re eating Flintstones chewables. Psilocybin will take you on a ride for better and for worse. With this in mind, be aware of the worst case scenarios.

In extreme and rare cases, Liberty Caps can have adverse effects creating cardiovascular problems. In one case, a young man developed a rare syndrome and suffered a myocardial infarction during a psilocybe semilanceata experience. People with diagnosed, untreated hypertension may consider abstaining from taking Liberty Caps. Aside from an unlikely severe reaction of this kind, other more common, unwelcome symptoms aren’t unusual.

These milder, adverse effects can include stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea, increased blood pressure and heart rate, anxiety, paranoia, and feelings of panic and being overwhelmed. Stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea are quite common with mushrooms, although you’re eating “poison” so that’s to be expected. However, many people don’t suffer these symptoms at all, and you shouldn’t require needing a bucket and a roll of toilet paper nearby like when doing ayahuasca.

Psilocybe Semilanceata Puts the Twinkle in Your Third Eye

So what are the benefits of eating the Psilocybe Semilanceata/Liberty Cap then? Expect the same baseline effects that run throughout the psilocybe genus. Visual distortions are of course common. Remember, “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.” Also be prepared to experience color, depth and form distortions which may proceed to full blown, visual hallucinations. If you start seeing swirling, technicolor fractals flying at you like 3 dimensional octopus tentacles from outer space, you’ve made it. However, this may be experienced only by those particularly sensitive to psilocybin, as it’s similar, although milder than LSD.

On a more serious note, the benefits of eating Liberty Caps may encompass a range of other positive effects.

– Cosmic communion: A profound feeling of unity with all of mankind, Earth, nature and the universe.

– Existential peace and serenity

– Feelings of euphoria, ecstasy and uncontrollable laughter

– Moments of inexplicable awe

– Transcendence and spiritual awakening

– Atypical and unusual thought patterns that may ignite creativity and lead to real world applications

Finally, psilocybin has also shown even greater benefits for select individuals. People may have depression symptoms relieved, be healed from trauma, stop smoking (cigarettes), or enjoy an entire “reordering” or “rewiring” of the brain, resulting in novel, healthier thought patterns and behaviors, including but not limited to, increased humility, compassion and empathy.

How Can Psilocybe Semilanceata Not Be Legal Everywhere?

Please ask your local representatives and political officials. They can probably use a Liberty Cap release too. Mushrooms are still widely illegal in Europe with England being one of the more stringent enforcers of the law, whereas they’re decriminalized in Portugal. Brazil and Jamaica enjoy legal mushrooms. The United States lags behind, still mostly considering mushrooms grounds for a scarlet letter. However limited pockets of legalization and decriminalization have sprouted: Seattle, Denver, Ann Arbor, and Oregon among others.

Time to Tap that Liberty Cap

Whether you’re a veteran psychonaut, or a psychedelic novice, the Psilocybe Semilanceata/Liberty Cap is a great entry point as one of the most common and iconic mushrooms on the planet. Any intrepid traveler endeavoring to explore the boundaries of the psyche, should consider adding psilocybe semilanceata to their repertoire. How can you say your heart, mind and soul is free if you haven’t eaten a Liberty Cap? Real liberty doesn’t come from a statue holding a book and a torch, but by exploring the depth and breadth of your self. When you liberate yourself, you free the universe.

Lead Image Credit: Arp, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author

While I am originally from Chicago, I call Austin, TX home (which coincidentally led me to my first Ayahuasca retreat) with stops along the way in places like the everglade state of Florida and Spain. An active participant in the psychedelic community, I've had the privilege and opportunity to hear a range of expert speakers speakers, including Anthony Bossis, Jamie Wheal, Dennis McKenna and Roland Griffiths. In my spare time I hike national parks, enjoy abusing my passport, listen to the Flaming Lips and read Joseph Campbell, Jung, Graham Hancock, Alan Watts and Montaigne. As my beloved Bill Hicks said, “It’s just a ride."

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