Psilocybe cyanescens lookalikes

John Uncategorized 58 Comments

Are you afraid of dying by mistaking a lookalike for the real Psilocybe cyanescens?

Don’t let it deter you from enjoying some of nature’s greatest, most beautiful of gifts. This post will act as a visual comparison guide to Psilocybe cyanescens and its lookalikes.

Psilocybe cyanescens

So I figured I would start with an iconic representation of our goal here.

The ‘Wavy Caps’ are defined by their characteristic waviness after the cap has opened. In young age, the caps can look sort of like bottle caps.

Things to look for:

  • White stipe
  • Purple black spore print
  • Cortina in young age

In the photo above, you can see the emerging bottle cap shape and the cobwebby cortina that’s about to seperate from the cap and may eventually leave a trace of an annular zone. Sometimes the zone will be purple because it catches falling spores from the lamellae (gills); also a good indicator of P. cyanescens.

Here’s a look at the gills. They are adnate which means that they are attached to the stem. The gills are tightly packed but not as tight as most Agaricus spp. They may also bruise blue.

Pholiotina rugosa

  • Deadly

So here’s a lookalike that you definitely need to be familiar with. It contains amatoxins that will destroy your liver in a painful way until it kills you. But don’t let this deter you from finding the real magic that you desire. All you need is to be equipped with knowledge and TAKE SPORE PRINTS!

Things to look for:

  • Cap is often striated toward the margins
  • Has distinct annulus
  • Has a rusty orange/brown spore print

Keep in mind that this mushroom also displays hygrophaneity, meaning that the cap will turn from brown, to a pale or cream color after drying.

Notice how similar its cap can sometimes resemble the waviness just like Psilocybe cyanescens.

But once you inspect further, you’ll most likely find a distinct ring around the stipe (annulus), which the true wavy caps do not exhibit.

Here is a picture that will most likely come up if you google ‘Pholiotina rugosa spore print’.

It’s a great side by side comparison of P. cyanescens and Pholiotina rugosa.

Tubaria furfuracea

Tubaria furfuracea is a quite the lookalike as it also is hygrophanous, and it also grows in woodchips.

This mushroom isn’t poisonous, but it’s not exactly a choice edible either.

What it is for sure, is an LBM just like P. cyanescens. And we’re talking about lookalikes here.

This is one of the more common lookalikes that people will request for ID in the hopes that it’s P. cyanescens.

Note that the stipe isn’t white but more along the same color and texture as the rest of the fruiting body.

They are also fairly delicate and don’t really bend like P. cyanescens would.

The spore print is a pale orange/brown color.

The picture below is also quite popular and can be found on erowid.org and shroomery.org. It’s Tubaria furfuracea held alongside P. cyanescens.

Galerina marginata

  • Deadly

Another extremely common deadly lookalike to P. cyanescens. It also has a rusty orange spore print like Pholiotina rugosa and typically has an annulus.

Things to look for:

  • Typically grows on decaying conifer logs
  • Rusty brown spore print
  • Bruises black towards the butt end of the stipe

Notice the black bruising on the stipe in the below picture. DO NOT confuse with the blue bruising of the true P. cyanescens.

Younger specimens will typically have the margins of the caps rolled inwards. Quite different from the bottle cap shapes that young P. cyanescens displays. Refer to the young P. cyanescens photo at the top of the blog post.

[Notice the cap margins]

It can be easy to get excited at the caramel cap color when you notice it in the field, but you should know by now that that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found Psilocybe. It takes more than one precaution to be sure that you’ve found what you’re looking for.

In the end, after you’ve cross-referenced everything and done all of your own homework, make an ID request that’s called something like “ID request P. cyanescens”.

Refer to our blog post on making an ID request.

You now need not fear death or sickness when searching for Wavy Caps. Remember, knowledge isn’t power, but applied knowledge is.

Photo credits go to:
Caleb Brown
Andrew Khitsun
Martin Livezey
Ron Pastorino
Sean Westmoreland
Jacob Pulk

Comments 58

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  1. I found some fungi that meets every description provided of the “good stuff”. Still I am uncertain as of it’s edible properties, even after doing a side by side comparison (via pics). Can you help? I am very curious!

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  2. Very helpful. I found some Tubaria furfuracea this morning on woodchips in Oakland. I knew they weren’t it because of stem color, but I picked them anyway as I didn’t know what they were. This helped me right away.

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  3. Well thanks a lot I can’t get ahold of David Aurora so he can’t identify anything but maybe you guys can. I live here in Freedom just outside of can of screws California

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  4. Wonderful spore print comparison, and I LOVE that you *encourage* arming oneself with applied knowledge and *cultivating* curiosity about mushrooms! Bookmarking this awesome resource and recommending it to everyone! Thank you SO much, from one mycophile to another!

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  5. I’ve got what appears to be cyanescens growing in mulch in my flower bed. If it’s the real deal will the stems stay white? Cuz the got a light brown tint towards the dirt and mulch? I also have a few pics. I could send, and how would I send them to u?

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    1. Yes, they should definitely bruise blue or a hot purple pink. Your more likely to see the pink when you did a good job not bruising them then take them to a rough rinse, when you pick them, the area where you broke the stem will almost ooze blue, it is very very common if you pick them and place on a paper towel to dry, the paper towel will have some blue staining. They will not ooze pink, the pink is only natural during growth or from very very very light bruising, any rough handling should quickly show dark blue spots, sometimes it even looks black ish so be very careful, know if your seeing blue or black, black is not a magic mushroom. Take spore prints!!! Microscopes and nitrile gloves are most strongly recommended tools for any mycology project, weather playing with identification as a hobby or whatever you risky dare devils do.

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  6. John, great blog–have been using it the past few days (novice identifier here). I live on the Olympic Peninsula–prime mushroom territory–and found some in my yard that I think are Psilocybe azurescens, but I can’t tell for sure. They were growing next to a downed tree and stump. My house is literally up against the forest (15 feet from garage) on a very wooded lot–20 minutes from the coast. My attempt at a spore print was a bust–no print, which I know isn’t characteristic of the psilocybe azurescens (I’ve struggled getting any helpful prints with anything I picked). Would it be ok to send a pic or two and see if you can offer any tips on identifying? Either way, many thanks for the helpful site.

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  7. I came across some very unusual mushrooms in my potted plants. They are like a new subspecies that I just can’t find anywhere online. They look exactly like the cyanescens, leave a purple/black spore print, but the stripe is light brown/tan and there is no bruising at all when damaged.
    While I have no interest in ingesting these, I was very curious what they were. If they are from the psilocybe or tubaria family I was just going to leave them be, but if sinister, I was going to treat the soil and kill them off. I’m happy to share pictures.

    1. Psilocybe cyanescens bruising blue.
      If the stipe doesn’t bruise when rolled between the fingers it’s no wavy cap.
      Wish you a good hunt!
      Greetings Mike

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      Thanks for the comment Bruzza.

      I don’t know if you ever “treated your soil”, but any and all mushrooms are beneficial to any soil. Perhaps if they’re not edible, you can leave them be. If they’re edible, you could enjoy a small harvest.

      If they’re still around, send me pics at info@fungiflora.com

  8. Seems like the easiest way to rule out all of these is to check if the gills are a dark grey/black or if they are white/orange/beige.

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      Those are major identifying features, but I’m sure the most confidence would come from matching every characteristic as possible.

      Thanks for reading Jason!

  9. I am concerned that you have these mushrooms on this page. The reason is that google grabs these images. So it is possible someone could search for what they found and see a match and assume it is safe. I suggest captioning the image itself. Especially deadly ones should say so in the image by itself. Yes, it’s not smart for someone to I’d a shroom from google images, but better safe than sorry.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing! And educating us on the different types of mushrooms that are available and their different characteristics. It is really magical, it has endless capabilities!

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  12. Tyler Andrew Wagner on Facebook I am trying to find out who best to generate a relationship in which I can learn about and experiment towards medicinal used for any psychedelic or any at all mushroom from our unparalleled paradise or fungus; but also be able to make money off of my wife and I’s last card Charlie find to get us off the streets after 6 years and two losses of kids to drugs that we could have replaced with the right amount of natural God and Gaia flora/fauna cause it is both right… I have about 500lbs of ovoideocystidiata

  13. Hi John, thank you for such an informative blog. Would I be able to email you some pics for an ID? I’ll have a spore print pic too that should be ready by tomorrow morning, so would like to email you then if that’s ok? Many thanks!

  14. Excellent post dude! Your post made me sure that I’ve finally found my first magic mushroom. Thanks for all the effort (and look-alike pictures, etc.)

    Your words are being read across the globe! (greeting from Iran)

  15. John I found cyanescens in Bandon Oregon that did not turn blue at all. I am not new to the cyanescens world I know that they were the real deal. Have you ever encountered this? I have pictures I can send you. I don’t know if they’re active I haven’t eaten these little Devils for 10 plus years. At this point I just pick morels and Boletus just curious.

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      Thank you Sandy!

      Keep in mind this is about the species P. cyanescens in particular. Though, a lot of the characteristics are similar for other wood-loving Psilocybes, make sure to research the exact species you might be looking for so as not to confuse it with the wavy caps I’ve described here.

      Thanks again for reading and writing! Mush love!

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