Psilocybe subaeruginosa is one of the most potent psychedelic mushrooms found in Australia and New Zealand. While its high psilocybin content makes it a top choice among psychedelic enthusiasts, harvesting it from the wild is not as safe as it seems. Here’s what you need to know about this shroom’s natural habitat, historic use, health benefits, and possible side effects.
Psylocibe subaeruginosa, also known as P. subaeruginosa and “subs,” is a species of psychedelic mushroom native to Australia and parts of New Zealand. Usually fruiting during autumn, it’s known for its distinctive appearance—most notably, its caramel brown cap covered in a slight golden hue.
P. subaeruginosa contains psilocybin, a famous psychedelic responsible for giving shrooms their hallucinogenic effects. Experts often agree that P. subaeruginosa is one of the most potent species, as it can contain up to 1.93% psilocybin once dried. Plus, several other psychedelic-promoting alkaloids are present in this species, such as baeocystin, nor-psilocybin, and MAOIs (1).
For comparison, Psilocybe cubensis (the most popular magic mushroom species) only contains about 1.30% psilocybin when dried (2).
P. Subaeruginosa, like any other mushroom, is incredibly complex. Mushroom anatomy varies greatly from one specimen to the other—but there are some features that make subs easy to tell it apart from most other fungi.
The most recognizable aspect of P. subaeruginosa is its convex cap, which is between one to six centimeters (0.39 to 2.36 inches) in diameter. Its brown shade is usually dark, often turning to a light caramel when it starts to get dry. The edges of the cap often start pointing upward later in the mushroom’s life.
The stem (stipe) is rather long, often growing to be up to 10 centimeters (3.9 inches), and slender—although it can get swollen at the base. Many specimens of P. subaeruginosa have blue and green specks on the stem, which become brown as the mushroom ages.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that P. subaeruginosa is highly variable in appearance, as colors and dimensions differ greatly between mushrooms. A good tip to remember is that, upon bruising, the different parts of P. subaeruginosa will turn blue—the same color as its spore print (1).
As with the majority of other psychedelic mushrooms, Psylocibe subaeruginosa is illegal in most countries. We recommend consulting your local laws to check your country’s stance on psilocybin, spores, and mushroom picking.
For example, in the US, psilocybin mushrooms are illegal on a federal level. Yet, some states have decided to decriminalize the possession of psilocybin for personal consumption. Similarly, some individual cities and jurisdictions have also taken this step forward.
P. subaeruginosa encompasses three types of Australian fungi that are considered “synonymy”—fungi previously considered individual species that are now grouped under one name. The former species in question are P. eucalypta, P. australiana, and the “authentic” P. subaeruginosa (3).
Another species, P. tasmaniana (named after the island of Tasmania), was previously considered synonymy, but a 1995 study reinstated its status as an individual species. All four of these mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocin, meaning they are psychoactive (4).
There’s also an ongoing debate regarding the relationship between P. subaeruginosa and P. cyanescens—another species of psychedelic mushroom native to Australia. While there’s no definite consensus among scientists, some believe they could be considered synonymy. Still, experts say that they’re sufficiently different in appearance to tell them apart with the naked eye (4).
Psilocybe subaeruginosa was discovered and first described in 1927 by John Cleland, a renowned Australian mycologist. He named it after the mushroom’s famous blue reaction upon bruising—“aeruginosa” means copper rust in Latin.
Surprisingly, no history of traditional use has been found correlating to Indigenous Australians. This is uncommon when dealing with shrooms, as many ancient cultures around the world, like the Mayans, consumed psilocybin for rituals and medicine (5).
The first recorded use of psychedelic shrooms in Australia dates back to the late 1960s, when some newspapers described how surfers and hippies foraged them for psychedelic purposes. Yet, it wasn’t until 1970 that researchers were able to confirm that P. suberuginosa did, in fact, contain psilocybin (1).
During the 1990s, some taxonomy studies came out stating the synonymy we mentioned above. Since then, however, not much has changed for this species, but some researchers are calling for a modern review of P. subaeruginosa.
P. subaeruginosa, like all other magic mushroom species, is undergoing heavy research to determine the possible benefits of its psychedelic properties. This forms part of a new framework in psychology and psychiatry called “psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy” (PAP).
This idea came to be after the discovery of LSD in 1943, when hundreds, if not thousands, of researchers conducted several studies on the beneficial properties of psychedelics. They discovered that hallucinogenic drugs could help get past the mental barriers of patients with conditions such as alcoholism.
However, during the 1960s, these compounds, including LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline, were banned in almost every country worldwide. This drove research to a sudden stop—and it mostly stayed like that until recently.
Since 2010, researchers and governments have been more open to the idea of studying psychedelics. Experts have completed rigorous double-blind studies that show promising results, indicating that psilocybin and other psychedelics can help with (6) (7):
While research is still in its early stages, all of these studies suggest that magic mushrooms, such as P. subaeruginosa, can have significant beneficial properties in psychology. However, it’s important to remember that one should not attempt to use psychedelics as a form of self-therapy without the supervision of a professional.
While psilocybin is considered to be safe for most people, there are a few side effects that can appear after ingestion. These include anxiety, paranoia, increased heart rate, nausea, and excessive sweating. Most of these will go away a few hours after taking the mushrooms (8).
That said, with P. subaeruginosa, it’s important to be aware of a particular phenomenon called “wood lover paralysis.” After consuming fungi that grow on wood, like subs, you may experience a sudden loss of muscle strength and motor control. This paralysis can last up to 24 hours and occurs even at low doses of P. subaeruginosa (1).
P. Subaeruginosa has been reported all over Australia and New Zealand, with a particular emphasis on South Australia. It usually grows from March to August, being mostly present during autumn. Its preferred growing grounds are (3):
As such, it’s common to find these shrooms at the edge of forests or in farmlands—especially in shaded areas. Like many species of psychedelic mushrooms, P. subaeruginosa usually appears after heavy rains and drops in temperature (1).
Wildcrafting refers to the practice of harvesting local plants or mushrooms for medicinal needs. It’s often used as a synonym for foraging—the key difference lies in that foraging describes harvesting for food and not for medicine.
However, wildcrafting should only be done by keeping in mind possible damage to the environment. Harvesting resources can significantly impact the environment, but a few key tips can help you mitigate this. Mainly, ecology experts recommend:
Another key thing to keep in mind when wildcrafting P. subaeruginosa is its legal status in your country or state. Make sure to check your local psilocybin and psilocin-related laws before heading out to the field.
Most experts and wildcrafting veterans agree that wildcrafting for psychedelic mushrooms is not a safe practice. This is especially true with P. subaeruginosa, as there are many poisonous look-alikes. These include, but are not limited to (1):
Wildcrafting for P. subaeruginosa should only be performed under the close supervision of a professional. If you’ve ingested a mushroom resembling P. subaeruginosa and aren’t feeling too well, make sure to call your local health services as soon as possible.
There isn’t a specific way to take P. subaeruginosa—rather, the consumption methods are the same as with any other psilocybe species. These include three primary options: powdered, dried, and fresh.
Dried is probably the most common way to take shrooms, as it provides a precise and potent dose that’s reduced in size. Dried mushrooms lose about 90% of their mass, thus enhancing the actual psilocybin dose by almost 10x. Most people eat dried shrooms as they are—although be warned that the taste isn’t as pleasant as some delicious shiitakes.
Some other people prefer not to dry them and instead choose to take them fresh. This provides lower doses of psilocybin, as the mushroom will contain a lot of water. Taking fresh P. subaeruginosa may be ideal if you’re looking to microdose.
Finally, powdering the mushrooms is also possible, which enables you to put subs into food or brew them into tea. While this method may require more effort, it’s also your best bet if you’re trying to avoid the earthy taste of shrooms (9).
Psylocibe subaeruginosa is one of the most potent types of psychedelic mushrooms. Native to Australia, this shroom is usually found in animal dung or decaying wood, often near forests and farmlands. While its highly sought after by psychedelic enthusiasts, you should never try to wildcraft subs for personal consumption as there are many poisonous look-alikes that may lead to death.
If you want to find out about other types of mushrooms, make sure to keep up with us here on shroomer. You’ll find all the details you need about functional fungi from all over the world, along with the latest news on the legal status of psychedelic mushrooms.