ATL #7: Psilocybe galindoi vs Psilocybe atlantis vs Psilocybe tampanensis

ATL#7[i] is a strain of fungus in the Psilocybe genus that produces sclerota (stone-like growths sometimes called “truffles”) as well as mushrooms. The question is, which Psilocybe genus is it a strain of? Turns out, the answer to that question is bizarrely convoluted[ii], with many sources repeating conflicting and seemingly wrong information—you can find people confidently asserting that ATL#7 is any of four different species.

We’re not sure we’ve gotten to the bottom of the whole thing yet, ourselves, but we can at least tell you about the strain, ATL#7.

We can also put what we do know about the whole taxonomic tangle on the table and hopefully clear up at least some of the mess for you.

Buckle up. It’s gonna get bumpy.

Psilocybe galindoi

ATL#7 has been sold as a strain of P. galindoi, which is sometimes described as a potent psychoactive mushroom used traditionally for spiritual purposes by the Mazatec people of southern Mexico[iii]. Some writers insist that P. galindoi is actually a subspecies of P. mexicana. Others treat it as a full species in its own right. Still others insist that “P. galindoi” isn’t actually a valid name at all—it’s not a subspecies of P. mexicana, it simply is P. mexicana, a case where a scientific name was erroneously given to a species that already had one. To determine who is right, we would need to consult a true scientific authority, but so far we have not been able to track down the relevant scholarly papers, which may be quite obscure. It doesn’t help that scientific taxonomy sometimes changes. It’s legitimately difficult to keep up.

Psilocybe mexicana

P. mexicana[iv] is a psychoactive mushroom capable of producing “truffles.” It is native to grasslands in Mexico, and has an ancient history of spiritual use by the Mazatec peoples. In the Netherlands, psychoactive truffles are legal even though psychoactive mushrooms are not. As a result, P. mexicana truffles are widely available in that country.

But DNA analysis suggests that ATL#7 isn’t P. mexicana, either.

Psilocybe atlantis

P. atlantis has been described as a close relative of P. mexicana that is native to Georgia, in the United States[v]. Some claim this is the species to which ATL#7 belongs—this is not incorrect, however there are reports that DNA analysis has shown P. atlantis to be the same thing as P. tampanensis[vi]. It is another case of a scientific name being erroneously given to a species that already has one.

Psilocybe tampanensis

P.tampanensis[vii] is another truffle-forming psychoactive mushroom. It was first discovered near Tampa, Florida (hence the name), but appears to be native to the entire well-watered, subtropical band of eastern North America. It is this species to which ATL#7 appears to belong, based on DNA analysis, at least according to claims made in an online discussion. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find a scholarly paper to corroborate the claim—this is a fairly obscure and specialized corner of mycology, which makes finding information not strictly related to mushroom use difficult to find.

As far as we can gather, though, ATL#7 is a cultivated strain of P. tampanensis, despite the many claims out there that say otherwise.

A Note on Truffles

We have covered “magic” truffles in another article, but they are worth a brief, clarifying note here, since ATL#7 is often grown specifically for its truffles.

Magic truffles are not the same thing as true truffles. Not only are they from unrelated species, but true truffles are basically underground puffballs—they produce spores. Magic truffles, in contrast, are something like the fungal equivalent of a potato, a structure formed by the organism not for reproduction but for surviving a difficult period when growth is not possible. The technical term for them is sclerotia.

Identification and Description

Cap: small, flat or slightly convex when mature. The surface is dry (unless its just been rained on or something)
Gills:
attached to the stem, but sometimes barely so
Stem:
long, thin, sometimes with partial veil remnants. Bruises blue-green
Smell:
nothing useful for identification
Taste:
nothing useful for identification
Spores:
almost round
Spore color:
purplish brown
Edibility:
psychoactive
Origin:
the strain was originally collected from the state on Georgia, in the United States

The above description is based on one provided for the ATL#7 strain, not for P. tampanensis or any other species as a whole[viii]. Since this is a cultivated strain, it’s not really correct to say it has a habitat type.

Look-Alikes

P. tampanensis and P. mexicana must look very much alike, or they wouldn’t be mixed up with each other the way they have been. In fact, most psilocybin-containing mushrooms look quite similar, though not identical. There are also culinary mushrooms that look vaguely similar, and there are dangerously toxic species that also look close enough to cause dangerous confusion. One of these is the aptly-named Deadly Galerina.

Trip Effects

ALT#7 contains psilocybin, so the effects of taking this mushroom (or its sclerotia) are mostly the same as the effects of taking any other psilocybin source. These include variation in mood, perception, and thinking style, as well as (sometimes) nausea and problems with balance. Dangerous side-effects are possible, but extremely rare.

“Variation in mood” typically means euphoria, though it can also mean intense anxiety or other emotional states. Some users say that psilocybin simply makes more intense whatever the user’s emotional state happens to be, though it has also been used to treat both anxiety and depression—there are anecdotal reports of the treatment working.

“Variation is perception” means hallucination, and it is hallucination that has most attracted the interest of people who don’t use psilocybin—non-users are likely to refer to psychoactive mushrooms as “hallucinogenic mushrooms,” as if that were the only thing psilocybin did. Actually, very low doses do not trigger hallucinations at all, and even moderate-sized doses are likely to cause only mild visual distortion (walls may appear to breathe, for example). High doses can seriously mess with a user’s reality, but by then the user’s thoughts about reality will have become even more unusual. Hallucination is seldom the most important aspect of a trip.

“Variation in thinking style” can include important personal and spiritual insight, even at very low doses. At higher doses there can be what non-users would likely term weird delusions, though it might be fairer to judge them in the same category as dreams. In any case, these can prove valuable, too, or they can simply be strange. At very high doses, “ego-death,” that is, temporary loss of the sense of self, becomes a real possibility—and can be terrifying or spiritually valuable or both, depending on how the user is able to respond.

Psilocybin-containing species vary in their potency and also other substances may alter the “flavor” of the trip. Both potency and quality differ between mushrooms and sclerotia in species that produce both. We have not found generalized trip descriptions for ATL#7, but have found a few individual trip reports suggesting that effects may come up a bit faster than with most other Psilocybes, and nausea may be particularly intense.

Potency

P. tampanensis is usually about 0.68% psilocybin by weight (presumably this is dry weight) and about 0.32% psilocin[ix]. These numbers are important, first, because the bigger they are, the more potent the mushroom.

The ratio between these two substances is also important. That’s because although psilocybin is usually described as the “active ingredient” in psychoactive mushrooms, it does not cause the high directly. Rather, the body automatically converts it to psilocin, which does cause the high. Psychoactive mushrooms usually have a small amount of psilocin alongside the psilocybin (some also have other psychoactive substances). The naturally-occurring psilocin kicks in first, followed by the psilocin the body makes from the psilocybin. Therefore, the relative proportion of these two substances in the mushroom has a lot to do with how the trip develops.

For comparison, P. cubensis has 0.63% psilocybin, 0.60% psilocybin, and 0.025% baeocystin.

Whether ATL#7 has different numbers than P. tampanensis in general is not clear. It’s also not clear whether truffles have the same numbers as fruits. Truffles are generally said to be less potent than fruits when both are dry, but the relationship is less clear when both are fresh, since even fresh truffles contain very little water. Some users also assert that truffles become more potent (as well as larger) the longer they are allowed to grow.

Dosage

Dosage varies depending on not just the potency of the material but also the sensitivity of the user and the kind of trip the user wants. Many people think in terms of five dosage levels: micro  (not hallucinogenic); beginner; moderate, large; and heroic (likely to trigger ego-death). Microdoses are usually used for therapeutic purposes, while heroic doses should only be used by highly-experienced and well-prepared spiritual seekers. But exactly what these dose sizes should be depends on the person and the mushroom (or truffle) in question.

In general, ATL#7 seems to be less potent than P. cubensis, meaning doses must be larger to have the same effects, but the difference may not be dramatic. Some people have extremely intense experiences with this strain.

Growing ATL#7

Reportedly, ATL#7 will grow with PF tek in PF Tek-style jars, though there are other substrate recipes it likes as well or better. It’s possible to simply spawn the jars to bulk (manure is a popular bulk substrate) to grow magic mushrooms, but this strain tends not to fruit very well, and may be difficult to get to fruit at all. Instead, many growers focus on the sclerotia[x].

To grow sclerotia, make up and inoculate jars as normal, but then incubate the jars for at least two or three months—some growers advise at least six months, and some have let the jars go for 15 months or even more. Then simply empty the jars into a clean tray and pick the sclerotia out. The mycelium and substrate can then be either dunked and returned to the jar for another round or spawned to bulk.

Buying ATL#7

In most jurisdictions, the problem with buying ATL#7 is that you might be arrested and thrown into prison forever and a day. We are not going to tell you how to do that, no.

Of course, growing the strain is also illegal in most jurisdictions. Your choice is to either find a place where psilocybin is legal, or decide what legal risk to take, or not use psilocybin at all. A curious loophole in many (not all) jurisdictions is that spores do not contain psilocybin and so may be legal unless there is separate legislation covering them. Depending on where you live, you may therefore be able to legally buy spore prints or syringes of spore solution of ATL#7. What you do with this material—which is illegal to germinate—is ultimately up to you.

Toxicity, Safety & Side Effects

The most serious danger associated with psilocybin use is usually the possibility of being sent to prison. Really. Penalties vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but are generally draconian. In the United States, even if psilocybin is legalized at the state level or decriminalized at the local level, it remains against Federal law.

Then there is the risk of misidentification—not a problem with cultivated mushrooms and truffles, such as ATL#7, but there are people who have died from eating what they thought were wild “magic” mushrooms—and what turned out to be Deadly Galerina (Galerina marginata) or another dangerously-toxic look-alike. Do not gather wild shrooms simply because they look like the things your friend grew. Wild mushroom identification is a job for experts only.

As for psilocybin itself, it’s one of the safest substances available for altering one’s mind—but that does not mean it is risk-free. Common side-effects include nausea (and sometimes vomiting) and problems with balance and coordination. Anxiety—which can be intense—is not uncommon and is part of the reason why it’s so important to have a safe, relaxing environment and a trip-sitter when using psilocybin. More serious problems are very rare, but possible. These include convulsions, coma, and even death.

A scary but poorly-understood side-effect of mushroom use is a sudden, temporary paralysis that could be localized or nearly total. This may not be a side-effect of psilocybin—it could be caused by some other substance in the mushroom. It is always rare, but seems to be most likely with mushroom species that eat wood. P. tampanensis is not one of these, but the possibility can’t be rules out.

Depending on the dose, there is also the risk that a distracted psychonaut might forget to turn the stove off or some similar problem—another reason to have a trip-sitter.

Psychological damage from a too-intense trip is a possibility as well, though it’s apparently much less common than might be supposed. In any case, the risk can be dramatically lessened by following certain safety procedures.

In general, all these risks can be lessened (though not entirely removed) by following certain basic safety procedures.

References:

[i]       (n.d.). Psilocybe ATL#7 Large Sclerotia(TM) Spore Syringe Microscopy Kit.

[ii]      PitcherCrab (2019). What Is ATL#7?

[iii]     Sholl, L. (2022). Psilocybe galindoi: Flesh of the Gods.

[iv]     Mandrake, K. (2021). Psilocybe mexicana: History, Potency, Cultivation, and More.

[v]      (n.d.). Psilicybe atlantis. Wikipedia

[vi]     PitcherCrab (2019). What Is ATL#7

[vii]    Barlow, C. (2021). The Tragic Story of Magic Truffles: The Elusive Wild Psilocybe.

[viii]   (n.d.). Psilocybe ATL#7 Large Sclerotia(TM) Spore Syringe Microscopy Kit.

[ix]     Nicechrisman (2012). P. azurescens Paralysis Is NO JOKE!

[x]      Mahi (2009). ATL #7, What to Expect?

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