where do liberty caps grow

Where Do Liberty Caps Grow and How to Get Them

Are you interested in psilocybe semilanceata magic mushrooms and wondering where do Liberty Caps grow? You have come to the right place, because you are going to learn the three most important things about finding Liberty Caps in this piece. After reading Frshminds’ disclaimer on mushroom foraging (“PLEASE READ IT”), the three main keys to locating Liberty Caps are: WHERE, WHEN, and how to FORAGE. So if you are in the market for some Liberty Caps, or better, in the field for some Liberty Caps, please continue reading.

Where Do Liberty Caps Grow Around the World?

Liberty Cap hunters need not worry because they find themselves in the land of plenty. Why? Because psilocybe semilanceata is one of the most prolific and ubiquitous psychedelic mushrooms found across the world. Liberty Caps owe their widespread reach to their basic, preferred habitat.

Do Liberty Caps Grow in Grass?

Yes, Liberty Caps do grow in grass, which makes finding them quite easy. This means that you will have to launch a “grass roots” effort to locate them. Although no grass roots movement or organizing will be necessary (unless you want to invite a merry band of mushroom hunters to join you), you will have to get down to grass roots in quite a literal sense. The three things Liberty Caps relish most are: grass, wet environments, and natural fertilizer

Liberty Caps
Liberty Caps

Take it from the experts, and the unlikely source, at the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS states that the Liberty Cap “…grows on grassy meadows and particularly in wet, north-facing fields.” The Liberty Cap, native to Europe, adores lawns, and can be found in everything from parkland, grasslands, moors, old farmland and pastures. There’s important, fertile knowledge regarding the psilocybe semilanceata’s favorite habitats. 

Searching for where Liberty Caps grow can be semi-shitty business. They are found in abundance more often where animals, like cows, horses and sheep, have grazed. Liberty Caps do not grow directly on cow pies and animal dung like its cousin psilocybe cubensis. However, Liberty Caps get super greedy for the dung-enriched and fertilized soil. On the other hand, Liberty Caps despise grassy areas enriched with artificial fertilizer. 

Instead, Liberty Caps flock to acidic soil, which often features rotten grass roots. Psilocybe semilanceata thrives on rotten grass roots, making them a gigantic pain in the grass to grow indoors. That said, when the conditions are right, Liberty Caps are content fruiting outdoors either alone or in groups. 

The ideal growth conditions for Liberty Caps are perfectly explained in the following passage:

“…the past were moored to grow carrots, strawberries and potatoes. Often parts of the land where dug off up to the wet foundation. Many of these fields in the course of time fell out of use, as a result of which they rapidly overgrew with stuffy pieces of grass. In order to prevent these areas of becoming inaccessible, grazing animals were put on the fields. Sometimes the nutritious soil was dug off. In this way space was created for pastures with low grass. This is the ideal spot for the growth of Liberty caps.”

Where Do Liberty Caps Grow in Specific Countries?

Thanks to the beautiful and mysterious creation of the universe, Mother Earth offers near-extreme, ease of access to Liberty Caps. Finding them with ease and in abundance makes for a curious facet of nature. So don’t fret, Liberty Caps are likely found in your country or a country near you. 

Where does grass grow? If you have some in your country, and you live in the northern hemisphere, you are likely in luck. It is that easy. As mentioned earlier, psilocybe semilanceata is a European native, calling many countries in the European Union home, particularly Britain and Ireland. However it also has found a home throughout North America. 

As in other parts of the world, Liberty Caps enjoy wide-reaching distribution in North America. In the United States, psilocybe semilanceata dots the entire country and covets the grassy, damp environs of the Pacific Northwest. The Liberty Cap’s sweet spot in the Pacific Northwest lies west of the Cascade Mountains. 

For Canadian capheads, the mushroom grows in several provinces: Quebec, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Newfoundland, and Ontario. 

Basically, if it is a place a garden gnome would like to hang out, there is a great chance Liberty Caps can be found nearby. There is a good reason gnomes are often pictured with mushrooms. 

If you are ready to go on a world tour, with passport in hand, and your garden gnome under your arm, here’s a complete list where Liberty Caps are found:

AustriaDenmarkGreeceThe NetherlandsSwitzerland
BelarusEstoniaHungaryNorwayTurkey
BelgiumThe Faroe IslandsIcelandPolandThe United Kingdom
BulgariaFinlandIrelandRussiaThe United States
CanadaFranceItalySlovakiaUkraine
The Channel IslandsGeorgiaLatviaSpainPakistan
Czech RepublicGermanyLithuaniaSweden

This is a small portion of the total number of countries in the world, and almost strictly in the northern hemisphere However, if you reside in the southern half of this rock floating through space, you are not entirely forsaken. 

Liberty Caps do grow in South America, however they are not nearly as common. They have been found in Chile for example. The Liberty Cap love even extends to the Pacific Rim. Psilocybe semilanceata has been located in Tasmania and New Zealand, where it grows from sea-level to grasslands at high-altitude. 

If you are still unsure if Liberty Caps can be found in your country, or just want general location information about finding magic mushrooms, check out this mushroom map.

BONUS: Mushroom Liberty Spreading in the United Kingdom

Due to assorted factors, known and unknown, Liberty Cap distribution is spreading across the United Kingdom. One theory forwarded is that the fluctuating climate in the region is extending the mushroom’s happy growth zone. According to this Liberty Cap social media post, they can now be found in western Scotland. Definitely click through on that link if you would like to see a prime example of the half-cooked, spaghetti strand stem of psilocybe semilanceata. 

This makes a perfect segue to the topic of when do Liberty Caps grow, as there is double bonus in store for the mushroom foragers of the United Kingdom.

When Do Liberty Caps Grow Around the World?

Where Do Liberty Caps Grow
Mario loves mushrooms

Before you go skipping off into your nearest wet, grass patch like Mario to find mushrooms and save Princess Peach, knowing when Liberty Caps fruit is key information. Just like any fruiting plant or agricultural crop, Liberty Caps have a defined growing season. Princess Peach will be quite disappointed in her hero if you go traipsing off and find a layer of snow over your nearest grassy field. 

Generally speaking, psilocybe semilanceata fruits from summer to late fall, around the world. This can vary from region to region and country to country. In some places, Liberty Caps are more abundant in late autumn to early winter. The best time to forage for Liberty Caps depends on the climate specific conditions of the area you live in. 

During the autumn, psilocybe semilanceata springs up from September until December, if the local climate accommodates. In various places, October offers the best opportunity to save Princess Peach. Take note that Liberty Caps rely on moisture to spawn and that the first night frost will kill them. So if you see your neighbors covering their outdoor plants and gardens with blankets, you can be fairly certain Liberty Cap season has ended.

Double Bonus in the United Kingdom

In Ireland and Britain, Liberty Caps can be found throughout the summer and autumn. But “thanks” to climate variances in recent times, the fruiting season has extended. The lengthened life cycle of Liberty Caps in Great Britain has become so noticeable that this Guardian piece about Liberty Caps can’t even ignore it. 

Although the Guardian article is from 2018, the same weather pattern probably still holds today. The extended fruiting season of Liberty Caps owes to an atypical late first frost. In 2018, the first subzero temperatures had not arrived at their normal time. In turn, this meant that Liberty Caps might still be foraged as late as New Year’s Day!

The first frost has been arriving in this part of the world, up to two weeks later than usual. This stretches Liberty cap season in the United Kingdom on both ends. The Liberty Cap fruiting season starts earlier and ends later. As the article notes, the region used to average 33 days of autumnal fruiting and that average has now been boosted almost twofold, to 70 days.

Of course 2018 may have been an atypical season, however, there is one big, key takeaway here. Watch your best, local meteorologist with a keen eye, and keep your ears and eyes peeled for when the first frost of the season arrives, regardless of where you live in the world.

How Do You Forage for Liberty Caps?

Foraging for mushrooms is not that difficult at all, provided you know where you are looking (which hopefully you know by now) and are well informed. An entire article can be dedicated to the subject, so let’s run through the basics here. 

  1. Educate Yourself

Of course you don’t want to go six feet under and push up mushrooms for others to find after you eat the wrong one. That said, deaths due to mushroom ingestion in the United States are rare. About 3 deaths occur per year due to poisonous mushrooms in the United States. Many more people get sick from eating the wrong ones, improperly cooking them. People can get anything from a light case of nausea to liver failure. About 7,500 people annually get green around the gills from misidentifying the gills they are eating. Based on a population of 332,000,000 in the United States, your chances of dying are a wild number I’ve never seen on a calculator before. The chances of getting sick are roughly 0.00002%. Although minuscule, there’s still a chance to wreck your liver worse than a few weekends out drinking.  Do not go foraging for mushrooms without an experienced guide

Consider watching this video. The video is not specific to Liberty Caps, and is located in the greater Washington D.C. area. However, you will be sure to learn the basics of mushroom foraging that apply to all species, Liberty Caps or not.

  1. Mushrooms Cheat Sheets

A mushroom key, or single page identification chart, can be handy in the field, especially if laminated. Consider buying a region specific mushroom guide book that can fit in your pocket. If you are more of a technophile, try using one of the many mushroom identification apps out there like Wild Edibles or iNaturalist. 

  1. Mushroom Foraging Items 

Make sure to bring the necessary items: some kind of knife, and something to collect the mushrooms in.

You can use a pocket knife, a pruning knife, any kind of knife that cuts well. Always cut mushrooms horizontally at the stem, so you do not disturb the delicate mycelium growing beneath the soil. This way the mushrooms grow back for your next foraging adventure, and ensure a bounty for other foragers as well. 

A wicker basket, mesh bag, reusable produce bag or even a laundry bag work. If you happen to be a scuba diver, use the mesh bag you dive with, as this would be perfect. Lively debate revolves around using (or not) a porous collection item so as to let the spores fall out and repopulate the forest floor. 

  1. Other Foraging Hints and Tips 

Remember, never pull the mushrooms up out of the ground. Cut them at the stem.

Do not take more than you plan to eat. 

Be 100% certain of what you are picking.

Take pictures of the mushrooms to show to others to help identify the species. 

Forage after heavy rains when mushrooms go bonkers. 

Bring common sense things when planning to spend a day in the great outdoors: bug spray, water, food, offline GPS, etc. 

Also consider wearing pants and long sleeves as mushrooms can be hard to get to, requiring mitigating brambles, thickets and other wild pricks. 

Last but not least, some parts of the United States and the world require permission and/or permits to forage mushrooms. However, considering Liberty Caps are illegal for the most part around the world, stating your desire to forage them to any public authorities is probably ill-advised. We do not condone illegal activity, so please consult your attorney for legal advice.

Pop a Cap in that Grass

With the information provided here, hopefully you are well on your way to becoming Super Mario and rescuing Princess Peach. Thanks to their abundance and wide-reach, Liberty Caps are one of the easiest mushrooms to forage for. The irony is that when you think you are saving Princess Peach, it might all have just been a wild hallucination. Happy Liberty Cap hunting!

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Adam Miezio
Adam Miezio

About the Author

From Chicago, I call Austin, TX home with stops in Spain and Florida. I’m active in the psychedelic culture having seen speakers like Jamie Wheal, Anthony Bossis, Roland Griffiths and Dennis McKenna. Austin led me to my first ayahuasca retreat. I hike national parks, enjoy abusing my passport, listen to the Flaming Lips and read: Jung, Joseph Campbell, Montaigne, Graham Hancock and Alan Watts. As my beloved Bill Hicks said, “It’s just a ride."

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