Psilocybe cubensis (formerly Stropharia cubensis) is native to tropical and subtropical regions. Originated from Africa, it was transferred to Europe by cattle. The fungus is internationally known under the name “Magic Mushroom” or “Golden Cap”. In 1906, Earle firstly mentioned Psilocybe cubensis in international literature, and named it Stropharia cubensis.
As Europeans discovered it in Cuba its byname cubensis arose (Earle, 1906). Later the scientist Singer assigned fungus to the genus Psilocybe because of the lack of chrysocystidia, but also as it showed a bluing reaction after bruising the flesh and its hallucinogenic effect (Singer, 1948). As Psilocybe cubensis is native to tropical and subtropical regions, it can be found in the south of the USA and in Central America. It is thriving on cow manure and therefore is mainly found on grazing land.
The lightly crooked cap of Psilocybe cubensis reaches a size of 0.5-8 inch and the tip of the cap has a pale yellow-golden color at an early stage giving it the nickname “Golden Cap”. With increasing age, the color becomes brownish. At the beginning, the shape of the cap is pointed but later becomes convex with upwards-bended edges. The surface is smooth and feels greasy. The lamellas are of grey-purple color with white edges. They are adnate (only a part of the lamellas is connected to the stem) or adnex (the lamellas are completely connected to the stem) arranged. The length of the stem can reach up to 6 inch and a thickness of about 0.1-0.4 inch. On its base the stem is a little thicker but otherwise evenly strong. The flesh of the fungus as well as the stem is bluing after bruising. After maturity, parts of the veil (a thin membrane that covers the cap and stalk of an immature mushroom) encircle the stem. The stem has a dry and smooth surface. When mature, spores are generated, which have a purple to brownish color and are 10-17 x 7-10 μm in size with an elliptical shape and a thick wall. Heim and Hoffmann (1959) isolated two different hallucinogens of Psilocybe cubensis, namely (1) psilocybin and (2)psilocin. They obtained the samples from the Wassons who actively participated at a mushroom ceremony in Mexico. The fungus is distinguished into three different color variations: (1) P. cubensis var. cubensis Singer being native to Mexico and having hallucinogenic attributes, (2) P. cubensis var. cyanescens Singer, which can be found in Florida, and (3) P. cubensis var. caerulescens Singer native to indochina (Jackson and Alexopoulus, 1976).