Psilocybe semilanceata, commonly known in the UK as the Magic Mushroom, and in the USA as Liberty Cap, appears in grassland in autumn. It is most commonly found on pasture and parkland that has not been enriched with artificial fertiliser. Fairly frequent in Britain and Ireland, where it is rather localised, Psilocybe semilanceata occurs throughout Europe and is found also in North America.
Psilocybe, the genus name, means 'smooth head' - a reference to the silkily mooth, scaleless surface of caps of these grassland mushrooms. The specific epitet semilanceata comes from semi- meaning 'half'and -lanceata which means 'spear-shaped'. Some of these little mushrooms do indeed look like spears, although many have wiggly stems uncharacteristic of spear shafts. The common name Magic Mushroom is, of course, a reference to the hallucinogenic nature of this grassland species
Cap of Psilocybe semilanceata,
Ranging from 0.5 to 2cm in diameter, the cream-coloured caps have striations that become more pronounced with age and in dry weather. The caps usually have a distinct pimple on the top.
The olive-grey free gills turn purple-black as the spores mature.
2 to 3mm in diameter and 4 to 10cm tall, the slender cream stem of Psilocybe semilanceata is fibrous, usually wavy and sometimes coloured blue towards the base.
Ellipsoidal, smooth, 11.5-14.5 x 7-9μm.
Very dark purple-brown.
Musty odor. Do not taste Psilocybe semilanceata because it is hallucinogenic. This saprobic grassland mushroom is most often found on upland pastures, notably on hill slopes. Although sometimes seen on lawns and in lowland meadows it does not grow on dung.
Cold weather - 50F and below
Panaeolus semiovatus, the Dung Roundhead, is usually larger and does not have a pointed cap.
Panaeolina foenisecii, the Brown Mottlegill or Mower's Mushroom, is very similar in color but is usually larger and does not have a pointed cap.