Psilocybe semilanceata (liberty cap) is a psychedelic mushroom that contains the psychoactive compound psilocybin. It grows on grassy meadows and similar; particularly in wet, north-facing fields and other habitats well fertilized by sheep and cattle feces, although unlike Psilocybe cubensis it does not grow directly on the dung itself. It is found in fields where animals graze throughout the cool temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and it is most common in "Newfoundland and Labrador, Europe, Russia, India, Peru and the Pacific Northwest United States, Northeastern North America and Australia."[1][2]


The mushroom takes its name from an actual cap, the Phrygian cap, also known as the liberty cap, which it resembles. The Latin word for Phrygian cap is pileus, nowadays the technical name for what is commonly known as the "cap" of a fungal fruiting body. In the 18th century Phrygian caps were stuck on Liberty poles, which resemble the stem of the mushroom. The binomial name can be broken down into the Greek psilo (bald) and cybe (head), and the Latin semi (half) and lanceata (lanced or pierced).


Liberty caps have a distinctive conical head with a small point or nipple on the tip. They are yellow to brown in colour, fading to a lighter color as they dry. Their stems tend to be long and the same colour or slightly lighter than the cap. The gills are darker than the outer cap. In Northern Europe (Finland, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden,Norway and Iceland) it starts fruiting in August; in central Europe it fruits from September to December; and in the United States it fruits through December and January; in Eastern Canada fruiting begins in September or October, usually after the first frost of the season.

Contemporary use in the UK

In Britain, prior to 2005, a 'loophole' in UK law allowed the selling and possession of fresh, unprepared psychoactive mushrooms. On July 18 2005, the British government closed this 'loophole' and all retail transactions involving psychoactive mushrooms became illegal (with the exception of fly agaric). Any transgression became treatable as a criminal offense involving a Class A substance.


External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Psilocybe semilanceata. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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