Are you interested in researching magical fungi? You’ll love penis envy mushrooms.
This evocatively-named shroom is in high demand among researchers and mycologists around the globe. Besides being iconic, it’s among the trickiest specimens to source.
These shrooms’ scarcity and potency aren’t the only factors that make them sought after. Their tale is shrouded in secret, drama, and even mysterious death. It’s only natural they would pique people’s fancy.
Read on to learn about the origins of Penis Envy shrooms. We discuss their first sightings, two versions of their history, and their current status.
Penis Envy’s history is easily the most discussed but least corroborated origin story in the realm of psychedelics. The original explanation for their appearance was published in Vice in 2009 by a journalist called Hamilton Morris.
The tale starts with two American adventurers, Terence and Dennis McKenna. They traveled to the Colombian Amazon in the 1970s to meet an elusive rainforest shaman. Instead of finding the man, they ran into a patch of towering phallic mushrooms.
Impressed and amused, Terence gathered samples of the Penis Envy spores and took them home to the States. He then sent them to Steven Pollock, a scientist interested in psychedelics.
Pollock spent years isolating the mushrooms. He eventually produced the Penis Envy variety sometime in the late 1970s and sent the spore print to an unknown address in Washington.
Soon after, Pollock was found dead, shot in the forehead execution style. His murder was never conclusively solved. This tragedy kickstarted an avalanche of gossip about his prized and closely-kept fungi.
After Pollock’s death, another mycologist called Richard Gee received the spore print by mail. He spent the next decade perfecting the species. Meanwhile, the public stopped discussing the Penis Envy shroom, assuming that the species died with Pollock.
The next sighting was in 1995 when Gee published Cubensis Aquarium Gardening. The tome didn’t contain a word about Penis Envy, but the recognizable fungus was on the front cover. This book marks the first recorded photograph of the species.
This picture re-sparked conversations, but the consensus was Pollock was behind the strong shroom. Gee only cultivated it after the first mycologist’s death.
People settled with this explanation, and the story persisted until 2021.
The reclusive mycologist discussed his background in cloning and genetics in that interview. He also touched on the shroom legend and declared half of the previous version patently false.
Gee’s version of the tale doesn’t include Pollock. Instead, he claims to have received Penis Envy spores from his friend and co-author Jules Stevens. Stevens got them from another acquaintance, who got them from McKenna.
Then Gee purified the spores. Complex mycology followed until he got blue coloration on a large shroom, a surefire sign of potency. He reportedly didn’t select the shape on purpose.
What about Pollock? Gee did meet the late scientist, but they’ve never discussed psychedelics. Pollock also didn’t have the information on Gee’s address.
Gee shares he’s after no credit for Penis Envy; he reached out to the journalist merely to set the record straight. Considering that he didn’t try to become famous after the talk with Morris, we’re inclined to believe him.
The Penis Envy mushroom species has a fitting name, given its thick stem and small, round cap. We’d argue it resembles a male sex organ more than other shrooms (even if all fungi are somewhat phallus-looking).
Gee must’ve noticed the resemblance but claims he first called the fungi ‘Amazons.’ He credits the name to a meeting with several strippers in 1977. The ladies said his creation looked like a ‘donkey cock’, and Gee asked if they had penis envy.
The colloquial name was funny and suitable, so it stuck.
The current versions exhibit clear indicators of selective cultivation. The caps barely open and remain close to the stem, which is impossible for wild shrooms. Plus, many specimens produce no spores, which would cause them to die out.
According to reports, Penis Envy mushroom effects are similar to other strains. They enhance the perception of color and sound, promote philosophical thinking, and cause synesthesia. They do so after a much smaller dose, though.
There’s a lot we still don’t know about this shroom. We do know it’s rare and spectacular, though. There’s a reason psychonauts say ‘a cube is a cube, unless it’s a Penis Envy.’
This mushroom’s legend only strengthens its appeal. It also exhibits intricate microstructures, offering a valuable learning opportunity.
Now that you know this species’ history, why not explore its biology? Visit our shop to buy the highest-quality Penis Envy spores and let your microscope uncover its wonders. Stay tuned to our blog for more fascinating mushroom fables.