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A Deep Dive Into Magic Mushroom Taxonomy: Genus, Species, and Strains

Mushroom Taxonomy

Magic mushroom taxonomy might not sound exciting, but this field yields invaluable knowledge.

Historically, certain cultures have utilized these mushrooms for their spiritual practices, while contemporary scientific investigations are exploring their pharmacological properties and potential implications in various fields. What sets them apart from other fungi? The world of taxonomy holds the answer.

Taxonomy classifies fungi based on various characteristics, including growth traits and biochemical properties. Knowledge is power, and this research lets us navigate and harness their immense potential.

Let’s dive into the world of taxonomy and explore the science behind these mind-altering mushrooms.

Introducing Magic Mushroom Taxonomy

Taxonomy is the scientific classification of organisms based on shared characteristics. It’s a hierarchical system that uses increasingly specific categories.

Magic mushrooms belong to the Fungi kingdom, Basidiomycota phylum, and Agaricomycetes class. Lower-level taxonomy revolves around their physical characteristics, like cap shape, gill structure, and spore color.

The two essential taxonomic categories for magic mushrooms are genus and species. They provide the most specific information about a particular type or specimen.

The genus (plural “genera”) refers to a group of closely related species with similar physical appearance and chemical composition. Magic mushrooms have four common genera.

The species refers to a specific type within a genus. They share base traits but exhibit slight differences, like lower or higher potency.

Magic mushroom taxonomy helps us differentiate between different shrooms by providing a standardized naming and classification system. It aids psychonauts, researchers, and fungi foragers.

Magic Mushroom Taxonomy

Magic Mushroom Genus

“Magic mushrooms” come from several fungal genera that produce psilocybin. We differentiate between them based on the fruiting body shape and size, spore color, and microscopic traits.

Let’s introduce the four best-known ones.


Psilocybe is the largest genus of magic mushrooms, containing over 200 known species. It commonly occurs in tropical and subtropical regions.

German mycologist Paul Kummer discovered the genus in 1871. The name consists of the Greek words “psilos,” meaning bare, and “kube,” meaning head. It refers to the mushroom’s smooth cap.

Psilocybe has a flat cap with a distinct central protrusion. The stem is slim, and the spores range from tan to black. They contain several psychoactive compounds, including psilocybin and psilocin.


Gymnopilus contains species with bright orange or rusty brown caps. These mushrooms typically grow on wood in temperate regions.

The name derives from the Greek words “gymnos” for naked and “pilos” for cap. It refers to the lack of hair on the fungi. American mycologist George Atkinson described this genus in 1900.

These mushrooms have bright caps, fibrous stems, and reddish-brown spores. They contain less psilocybin and psilocin than Psilocybe, but also have other, less-researched chemicals.


Panaeolus contains several magic mushroom species known for their small size. They grow in grassy areas and on dung in tropical regions.

The name originates from Greek. “Pan” means all and “aiolos” means changing, describing the variable appearances within this genus. French mycologist Lucien Quélet discovered it in 1872.

These small shrooms exhibit grayish-brown caps, thin stems, and black spores.


Copelandia comes from Southeast Asia and other tropical regions. Enthusiasts may refer to it as a Hawaiian-style mushroom for its popularity in Hawaii.

George F. Atkinson named the genus in 1902 in honor of Edwin Bingham Copeland, another noted mycologist. Atkinson described several species differentiated from other genera based on the spore shape and size.

This genus contains small mushrooms with pointed tips. They are noted for their distinct biochemical profiles and have been mentioned in historical accounts of traditional healing practices.

Magic Mushroom Species

Each magic mushroom genus contains numerous subgroups, many of which we’re yet to describe. Species may have unique shapes, colors, potency, and effects.

The Psilocybe genus contains the highest number of well-known species. Let’s zero in on it to illustrate this level of magic mushroom taxonomy.

Three well-known species within the Psilocybe genus are:

  • Psilocybe cubensis is arguably the best-known magic mushroom species. This species has a broad, cone-shaped cap and a thick stem and is native to Mesoamerica.
  • Psilocybe semilanceata goes by “Liberty Cap.” It’s a smaller species from Europe and North America. It has a distinctive pointed cap, red-brown hues, and a twisted or curved stem.
  • Psilocybe cyanescens is a species from the Pacific Northwest region. Its cap is caramel-colored, and the stem is sturdy and tall.

Magic Mushroom Strains

Strains are species subtypes with distinctive characteristics, like appearance, potency, or growth pattern. Their names may refer to their discoverers or distinctive traits.

Continuing our focus on the Psilocybe genus, particularly the Psilocybe cubensis species, we examine three notable strains, highlighting their distinct taxonomical features:

  • Golden Teachers: This strain, noted for its golden-colored cap and larger size, is often a subject of study by both beginner and advanced mycologists. Its notable characteristics and psychoactive compound profile provide a comprehensive study opportunity.
  • Penis Envy: With its distinctive morphology, this strain is a popular subject among advanced researchers. Its unique physical structure and varying concentrations of psychoactive compounds offer a rich area for detailed mycological studies.
  • B+ Cubensis: This strain is well-suited for beginners in mycological research, as well as experienced mycologists exploring new research methods. Compared to other strains, its varied psychoactive compound profile provides a diverse research opportunity for mycological studies.

Fungi Fun: Exploring Magic Mushroom Taxonomy

Magic mushroom taxonomy allows for a greater understanding of their various traits. It may improve lawmaking, medicine development, and humanity’s understanding of the natural world.

Expert researchers are at the forefront of these taxonomic endeavors, meticulously unraveling the intricacies of magic mushroom diversity. However, even amateur enthusiasts can contribute to this scientific pursuit through citizen science projects. Since shrooms are illegal, spore microscopy offers a safe and legal avenue for exploring their remarkable world.

By examining spores under the microscope, we unlock a world of hidden details, enabling us to identify different species and strains with precision. These microscopic observations provide crucial data that can inform future research and conservation efforts.

Visit our store to order lab-grade spore syringes and embark on a taxonomy journey. It’s a mesmerizing hobby and may contribute to science as we know it.

All of the content and images on our site are for informational reference only. The cultivation of psilocybin mushrooms is federally illegal in the United States. We do not promote the cultivation of psilocybin “magic” mushrooms under any circumstances. Do not contact us asking for advice related to this subject. Any products found on this site are for microscopy and taxonomy purposes only. None of the psilocybin mushroom spores we offer are for consumption or cultivation. We do not sell any products containing psilocybin.


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