Melmac Mushroom[i][ii] is a strain of Psilocybe cubensis, one of the world’s most popular psychoactive mushrooms. The name is probably a reference to the old TV show, Alf, whose title character was a rather aardvark-like space-alien, the idea being that this mushroom is “out of this world.” It is a little odd-looking, with a thick, contorted stem and a wavy, often split cap. Many P. cubensis strains rather stretch the definition of “strain,” as they are not really all that different from other mushrooms of the same species, but Melmac is pretty distinct.
Melmac is a variant of Penis Envy, an admittedly phallic-looking shroom that’s been popular for decades (it’s not especially envious). Melmac doesn’t look much like Penis Envy, but the two have a lot in common otherwise. The strain was developed through deliberate breeding (rather than being found growing wild, as some strains are) by a grower working to stabilize an interesting variation within the original genetics of the early Penis Envy stock.
It’s worth noting that the “active ingredient” in this and most other psychoactive mushrooms is psilocybin, a substance that is extremely illegal to use or possess in most jurisdictions. Know the law in your area and do not go to prison.
It’s also worth noting that there are psychoactive fungi that do not contain psilocybin and instead have other active ingredients. Some of these are a good deal more dangerous to use. Don’t assume that all psychoactives play by the same rules.
The trip effects of Melmac are generally the same as for any other psilocybin mushroom. That is, there is an exaggeration or enhancement of whatever mood the user has going in (hopefully this will mean euphoria and a sense of connection, as it often does), plus altered thinking that can lead to important personal insights, and hallucinations—the hallucinations are likely to be subtle, except at high doses, and may be absent at very low doses. Unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, and excessive yawning, are not uncommon. More serious side effects, such as debilitating anxiety and problems with balance and coordination are less common but real. Really serious problems are rare but possible.
The risk of serious side effects can be minimized by practicing a few safety guidelines, such as careful attention to set and setting, having a trip-sitter, making sure you’re healthy enough for the trip and are not taking any medications that could interact badly with psilocybin, and taking adequate time afterwards for integration.
There is real debate among users as to whether strains differ from each other in their effects at all, aside from variations in potency (just as drinkers debate whether different kinds of alcohol vary in their effects. Certainly, an argument is to be made that psilocybin is psilocybin, period. But at least anecdotally, Melmac is said to be mellow, with few visuals but a strong emotional component.
Potency and Dosage
Melmac is known to be relatively high potency, meaning you’ll need smaller doses of the mushroom than you would for an average P. cubensis to get the same effect.
Exactly how much you should take is hard for anyone to say, because a person’s weight, metabolism, and the personal quirks of their biochemistry all play a role in determining their sensitivity to psilocybin. Also, even mushrooms of the same strain sometimes differ from each other slightly in potency. Your best bet is to always err on the side of taking too little rather than too much, because the risk of side effects increases with dose size.
Melmac mushrooms[iii] are reportedly not difficult to grow, and will do fairly well with any method that works for other P. cubensis strains. Colonization times are within the normal range for the species, although fruiting can be a bit slow.
Those wishing to save their own spores can have trouble, as Melmac, being a subtype of Penis Envy, drops relatively few spores, making cultivation difficult. Cloning might be easier.
The question, for would-be psychonauts, is always to grow or to buy shrooms? The answer depends on what your interest is and, to an extent, where you live. What kind of mushroom you’re looking for also sometimes plays a role in the decision, but usually not a large one.
Growing shrooms takes time, attention, know-how, and money—but it can also produce a very large harvest. On a per-gram basis, growing beats buying for cost, hands-down[iv]. Quality is much more reliable[v] (when the product itself is illegal, you can’t complain to the authorities if it’s not as advertised). Also, although growing mushrooms takes time and effort to learn, many people enjoy the challenge and find it a fun and rewarding hobby.
But perhaps you don’t want a couple of pounds of mushrooms three months from now. You want a couple of grams this week. Or, maybe you do want a couple of pounds, but you want each dose in your collection to be a different strain because you want to try them all.
There are many reasons why you might want to get only a dose or two at a time, and that means buying.
Legal considerations are part of the trade-off[vi]. In the United States, use or possession of psilocybin in any form is against Federal law. It’s against the law in most states as well. That means if you get your hands on a psilocybin mushroom, you are risking prison. However, it’s not the mushroom but the psilocybin in it that’s illegal, so possession of spores is generally fine—spores don’t contain psilocybin. In fact, there are many supply companies that sell psilocybin mushroom spores for research purposes and microscopy, a hobby that consists of looking at things through a microscope.
Turns out, microscopy is a very popular hobby. A surprising number of people really enjoy looking at the spores of various strains of P. cubensis especially. Just don’t inject your spores into a jar of sterile, well-hydrated grain with a filtered opening for gas exchange, as this could cause your spores to germinate and begin producing psilocybin, an illegal substance….
All joking aside, growing your own has an advantage in that even if the grow itself is against the law, nobody has to know you’re doing it. All the things you need to get started are perfectly legal to buy, most states. There are some states where possessing the spores of psilocybin mushrooms is also illegal. There are also some jurisdictions where possession of small amounts of psilocybin for personal use has at least been decriminalized, while possession of a large quantity (such as the harvest from a successful grow) will still land you in deep legal trouble. The calculus of risk changes in such circumstances.
So there is no one right answer to whether to grow or buy. It comes down to how much you want, how quickly, whether you like mushroom-growing, and what sort of legal risk you are prepared to run.
If you want Melmac, specifically, that might lean your choice slightly towards growing, as this strain is a little hard to come by.
[i] Palley, A. (2022). Melmac Mushroom Strain: Effects, Potency & More
[ii] (2022). 5 Things You Need to Know Before Trying Melmac Mushrooms.
[iii] Moabfighter (2021). Quirks Melmac Grow Along/Comparative Thread. Shroomery
[iv] TipsyCzar (2019). How Much More Economic Is Growing Your Own VS. Buying Online
[v] Mandrake, K., Haze, V. (2021). Why You Should Grow Your Own Mushrooms. Double Blind
[vi] (n.d.). Legal Status of Psilocybin Mushrooms. Wikipedia