where do liberty caps grow

Where Do Liberty Caps Grow and How Do I Find Them?

Psilocybe semilanceata magic mushrooms, or ‘Liberty Caps’, are a hearty and plentiful species that can easily be found by intrepid mushroom hunters in the wild. If you’re a novice wild mushroom hunter, you’re probably wondering where you need to go to get your hands on some wild Liberty Caps. To find Liberty Caps, you need to know WHERE they grow, WHEN they mature, and how to FORAGE for them. If you promise to first read Frshminds’ disclaimer on mushroom foraging (“PLEASE READ IT!”), we can help you!

Where in the World Do Liberty Caps Grow?

Finding Liberty Caps is probably the least difficult aspect of the hunt, as they are amongst the most prolific and ubiquitous species of psychedelic mushroom, and can be found in countries and settings around the world. Liberty Caps owe their widespread reach to the fact that they grow in fairly ubiquitous circumstances.

Do Liberty Caps Grow in Grass?

Liberty Caps thrive in grass, wet environments, and with natural fertilizer. Take it from the experts at the National Park Service (NPS) who state that the Liberty Cap “…grows on grassy meadows and particularly in wet, north-facing fields.” Native to Europe, they adore lawns, and can be found in parks, moors, and old farmland. They tend to flourish when its wet – think of the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest or the saturated fields of Western Europe.

Liberty Caps
Liberty Caps

Do Liberty Caps Prefer a Certain Kind of Soil?

Your ‘grass roots’ search for Liberty Caps is likely to lead you down an unpleasant path, as Liberty Caps are found in abundance where animals like cows, horses and sheep have grazed. Liberty Caps do not grow directly on animal dung like their cousin, the psilocybe cubensis. But Liberty Caps do appreciate the fertilized soil left behind. Interestingly, Liberty Caps are all-natural – they despise artificial fertilizer. They prefer acidic soil, which often features rotten grass roots. They thrive on these roots (which also makes them a gigantic pain-in-the-grass to grow indoors). So our advice is to begin your search in worn-out animal pastures with a high water table, close to sea level or in very wet climates.

In Which Countries Can I Find Liberty Caps?

If you live in the northern hemisphere and have grass in your country, you’re in fertile ground for Liberty Caps. While psilocybe semilanceata is native to Western Europe, it is available throughout North America. In the US it is most prevalent in the grassy, damp Pacific Northwest (west of the Cascade Mountains to the coast). Similarly, while Canadian ‘Cap Heads’ might find the mushroom across Central and Atlantic Canada, their odds are best along the coast of British Columbia.

If you plan to only travel to places where you can easily forage for psilocybin, here’s a pretty comprehensive list of Liberty Cap-containing countries:

AustriaDenmarkGreeceThe NetherlandsSweden
CanadaGeorgiaItalySlovakiaUnited Kingdom
Czech RepublicGermanyLatviaSpainUnited States
Countries known to harbor Liberty Cap mushrooms

While not nearly as common, Liberty Caps can be found in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in cooler, wetter climates such as Chile, Tasmania and New Zealand. Given their scarcity down under, it’s still probably best not to waste your precious vacation hunting virtually anywhere below the Equator.

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.

Climate’s Impact On Mushroom Grow Zones

Scientists have noticed that the Liberty Cap is actively spreading across the United Kingdom to an extent never before seen. It is possible that changes in the climate around the British Isles is extending the mushroom’s happy growth zone. According to this eyewitness account, they can now be found in western Scotland where they have never been seen before.  

When Do Liberty Caps Grow?

Autumn is a great time to hunt for Liberty Caps

Before you go skipping off into your nearest patch of dung-infested wet lawns, knowing when Liberty Caps should be harvested is equally important as knowing where to find them. Just like any fruiting plant or agricultural crop, Liberty Caps have a defined growing season. 

Liberty Caps generally ‘fruit’ from summer to late fall, though this can vary from region to region. In some places, Liberty Caps are more abundant in late autumn to early winter. The best time to forage for Liberty Caps actually depends on the climate specific conditions of the area you live in. And it’s important to remember that Liberty Caps rely on moisture to spawn; the first night frost will kill them. So before heading out on that foraging vacation – perhaps its best to call ahead and check the forecast carefully!

Climate’s Impact On Fruiting Season

Back to the United Kingdom, where the same climate phenomenon that is spreading Liberty Caps all over the British Isles is also extending the growing season; the region used to average 33 days of autumnal fruiting, and this average has more than doubled in recent years, to 70 days. The lengthened life cycle of Liberty Caps in Great Britain has become so noticeable that even the Guardian had to comment on it. In 2018, the phenomenon was so pronounced, British psychonauts reported harvesting mushrooms on New Year’s Day.

How Do You Forage for Liberty Caps?

Foraging for mushrooms is not that difficult, provided you know where to look and what you’re searching for. Below are a few basic tips to get you started. 

  1. Learn How the Pros Do It

Whether foraging for psychedelic mushrooms or the ‘garden variety’, some basic tips and tricks can be found in the video below:

  1. Mushrooms Cheat Sheets

Of course you don’t want to join the mycelium by eating the wrong kind of mushroom. Deaths due to mushroom ingestion in the United States are rare, with only about 3 deaths occurring annually across the country. Of course, the number of people who fall ill from eating the wrong mushroom, or from improperly cooking them, is much higher, with roughly 7,500 Americans getting a bit ‘green around the gills’ from misidentifying the gills they are eating this year. The effects can range anywhere from light nausea to full-on liver failure. Make sure you have a foraging partner with experience. A mushroom identification chart can be handy in the field, or try using one of the many mushroom identification apps in the App Stores, such as Wild Edibles or iNaturalist

  1. Mushroom Foraging Tools 

There aren’t alot of tools needed. Make sure you remember to bring some sort of knife (really, any knife that cuts well, don’t overthink it). Always cut mushrooms horizontally at the stem so as not to disturb the delicate mycelium growing beneath the soil. This way the mushrooms grow back for your next foraging adventure, and ensure a harvest for other foragers as well. A wicker basket, mesh bag, reusable produce bag or even a laundry bag will help you carry your bounty. Experienced foragers would add that you should use a porous bag that allows the spores to 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 mushroom growth is at its peak. 

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

Consider wearing pants and long sleeves as mushrooms can be hard to reach through thick forest. 

Last but not least, some parts of the United States and the world require permission and/or permits to forage mushrooms. Considering that Liberty Caps are illegal in most jurisdictions around the world, stating your desire to forage them may land you in jail. We do not condone illegal activity, so please consult your attorney for legal advice.

Pop a Cap in that Grass

We hope you can take this information and confidently venture out in search of your Liberty Cap harvest. Be sure to share your own personal tips, locations (aw c’mon, we won’t tell anyone) or pictures of your bounty in the comments!

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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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