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Parts of a Magic Mushroom & What They Do

Magic Mushroom Feature

Want to learn how to identify parts of a mushroom? We spend slabs of blog space discussing shroom types, chemistry, and uses, but not as much on the components that make up the magnificent organism. So today, we’re going down that road.

Studying the mushroom deepened our appreciation of its microscopic properties, and we hope you share our experience. Plus, taxonomists find classification much easier with this knowledge under their belts.

What parts of magic mushrooms have psilocybin? How do they look? Join us for a short biology lesson on shroom morphology, functions, and applications.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is important to note that the cultivation, possession, and use of psilocybin mushrooms are illegal in many countries, including the United States, under federal law. This article does not promote or encourage illegal activities. Any products mentioned are intended solely for microscopy and taxonomy purposes. Readers are advised to familiarize themselves with the laws in their country or region regarding psilocybin mushrooms.

Identifying Magic Mushrooms

Magic mushrooms (nicknamed shrooms) are a class of wild and cultivated fungi containing the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin. This category includes several fungus families, but we bunch them together for their capability to cause a psychedelic experience.

Most shrooms come from the Psilocybe genus, and you can’t learn much from their appearance alone. These fungi look like many other species, with slender gray stems and brown caps. When dried, they’re a rusty brown with off-white spots.

Fruiting Body 

What parts of a magic mushroom can help you identify one? Popular strains often exhibit these tell-tale traits:

  • Tan, brown, or yellow heads
  • Purple-brown spore prints
  • Blue bruising on the stem

These markers aren’t exclusive to psilocybin fungi, though. The most potent part of a magic mushroom may easily resemble an everyday supermarket aisle item.

Parts of a Magic Mushroom: A Breakdown

We’ve previously mentioned several components of a magic mushroom that are used by mycology enthusiasts to distinguish between species. Let’s delve deeper into this topic.

According to scientists, a typical mushroom consists of seven primary elements. These elements can be categorized into two groups: the substantial underground section and the above-ground fruiting body, which can be picked and studied.

While the specifics may vary from strain to strain, understanding these seven parts can equip you with the knowledge to engage in informed conversations with expert mycologists or embark on your journey to becoming one.

Fruiting Body

The fruiting body, also known as a sporophore, is the part of the mushroom that emerges above the soil surface. This section is characterized by its fleshy composition and contains psilocybin.

 

So, if you’re curious about which component of magic mushrooms harbors their unique properties, you’re primarily examining the fruiting body. In nature, its role is to facilitate the production and dispersal of spores, contributing to the continued reproduction of the fungus.

Cap

The cap is the uppermost section of any mushroom, giving the fungus its umbrella shape. Its technical name is pileus.

It stands on top of the stem and can be flat, curved, or convex. The cap serves as a gill shelter, and it typically has a different texture than the rest of the fungus.

Caps come in a wide range of colors and textures, varying by species and the life stage. As you know by now, this part of a magic mushroom is usually golden brown when dried.

This section typically houses the fruiting body’s spore-producing surface, where the part of magic mushrooms containing psilocybin resides, just beneath the cap!

Fruiting Body

Gills

When it comes to the source of hallucinogenic properties in magic mushrooms, the answer lies in the spores. And where do we discover these spores? Within the gills. Often referred to as pores (or lamellae in Latin), the gills are the stage where enchantment takes place.

These ribbon-like, symmetrically arranged, and delicately thin structures are situated right beneath the cap, suspended from its underside. Gills exhibit an array of colors and distinctive characteristics that aid in the identification of mushroom species—such as the previously mentioned purple-brown print.

But what’s truly captivating about gills is their role as the spore-producing machinery. They release these microscopic cells into the air, initiating the creation of new fungi, and in doing so, contribute to the magic of mushroom life.

Stem

The stem—stipe in scientific terms—is the second most potent part of a magic mushroom and its central structural element.

The stem is a long, stalk-like protrusion that pokes from the ground, suspending the cap and gills in the air. It can be short and squat or long and curvy, depending on the size and shape of your shroom.

The other function of the stem is to aid spore dispersal. Its height allows the wind and passing animals to scatter the spores into the surroundings; its shape speaks volumes about the fungi’s original environment.

Its form and texture also help us pinpoint the species. For instance, when looking at parts of a magic mushroom, their stems are generally long and thin.

Ring

The ring is a part of a magic mushroom on the stem just below the cap. It has a developmental role, protecting the gills of a baby fungus.

Young shrooms have a partial veil—a thin piece of tissue over the gills. The cap grows as the mushroom matures, so the cover ruptures. What remains is a thin tissue ring around the stem.

Rings vary in shape and size, from prominent thick ones to slim cobweb structures. They’re usually thin and airy on magic fungi.

Volvah

The volva is the part of a magic mushroom that protects it during its young days. It’s unnecessary for most domesticated species and present in rare specimens of this category.

The volva grows at the base of the stem and breaks as the shroom stretches. What’s left is a spherical or bulbous cup at the bottom.

This element is essential for identifying fungi in the wild because they’re the most common in poisonous species. Some rare strains of shrooms, like Amanita muscaria, also exhibit a volva.

parts of a magic mushroom

Underground Thallus

Although hidden, the thallus is a vital part of a magic mushroom.

After all, humans and fungi have differing perspectives on the fruiting body. While we find it delectable, enjoyable, and captivating, the mushroom regards this section as something to shed at the conclusion of the growing season. The majority of its energy is directed towards nurturing the intricate underground system.

The thallus endures for years and serves as a means for the species to perpetuate itself. It comprises two essential elements.

Mycelium

The mycelium is a vegetative, non-productive part of a magic mushroom. It remains below the surface, collecting and providing nutrition to the fruiting body.

The easiest way to understand mycelium is by comparing it to plant roots. It spreads inside the soil, extending to gather water and nutrients. It also benefits all surrounding plants, feeding the body to the soil and encouraging a rich microbial life.

When mycelium is young, we can make out its structural elements—hyphae.

Hyphae

A hypha is a long, branching structure of tiny, thread-like tubes. Think of it as a predecessor to proper plant roots.

When enough of these filaments develop, they make up the mycelium, connect the body to the soil and gather nutrition.

What About Spores?

You’ll notice that we didn’t include spores in the shroom structure, and we have our reasons.

Think about it—would you consider a seed as a plant element? It’s the same story with spores. Rather than seeing them as a part of a magic mushroom, we consider them its foundation.

Spores are reproductive cells produced in the gills to propagate the species. The fungus releases them into the atmosphere at the season end, traveling through the environment until they catch an acceptable growth surface.

A single spore is enough to form a new fungus. It starts with the hyphae and works its way up until there’s another fruiting body ready to burst.

parts of a magic mushroom

The Difference in Caps and Stems

What part of magic mushrooms contains hallucinogens? In magic mushrooms, specifically those containing psilocybin, the hallucinogenic compounds are primarily found in both the cap and the stem of the mushroom.

Scientific studies focus on the distribution of these compounds throughout the mushroom for a better understanding of their properties and effects.

Current research indicates a slight variation in the concentration of psychoactive compounds between the caps and stems of psilocybin mushrooms, with some studies suggesting marginally higher potency in the caps. However, this difference is generally minimal and may vary depending on specific mushroom strains and growth conditions.

Know Your Shroom Anatomy

Knowing the parts of a magic mushroom deepens your taxonomy knowledge and helps you identify species in the wild. It may even encourage or contribute to your microscopy efforts.

Understanding the exterior only makes the interior seem more exciting for taxonomists and mycologists alike. If this is your first encounter with the fungus, this guide sets the stage for deeper study. Now’s the time to zero in on microscopy.

For further exploration in the field of mycology, consider our range of high-quality spore syringes, available for microscopy and taxonomy research purposes.

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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