An older name for the same species, Conocybe smithii, can still be found in older sources. It is rare, not well known, and seldom used by psychonauts, but it is important to know that it exists—especially as its bluing reaction is sure to intrigue any fans of psilocybin who find it.
Identification and Description[ii]
Cap: The cap is 3 to 13 millimeters in diameter. Obtusely conic to convex when young but with age it expands at the margins, becoming almost planar with a characteristically pronounced umbo. The cap is smooth, light brownish yellow(ochre) to tawny cinnamon. The margin is usually lighter in color, slightly translucent, and with striations that extend most of the way the disc when moist. Cap glistens when wet and is hygrophanous, turning a light pink or tan color when dry. The flesh of the cap is a watery white.
Gills: The gills are adnate to adnexed soon receding, subdistant to crowded, narrow to moderately broad, ochraceous buff at first with whitish edges, darkening to rusty cinnamon brown with age.
Stem: The stem is 10 to 50/70 millimeter long by 0.75 to 1 (1.5 at the base) millimeter thick. It is slender and fragile. Equally sized along its length but often with a slight swelling at the base. The stem is pure white then turns a watery yellowish-white, with a more grayish base. The surface is covered with fine fibrils but becomes smooth with age. Characteristically lacks an annulus and the typical bluing reaction of the base that occurs when the P. smithii is handled or damaged, yet it is worth noting that this bluing reaction is often delayed and is sometimes subtle.
Spores: Spores are 7-9 by 4-5 micrometers in size. They are slender ellipsoidal, thin-walled with a conspicuous germ-spore.
Spore Print: Spore print is an ochre yellow to rusty orange.
Smell: No order or a starchy or farinaceous smell.
Flavor and Edibility: No distinctive taste. Although the flesh is not toxic, eating is not advised. Therefore, the consumption of wild samples is not advised.
Habitat: Scattered amongst mosses and in sphagnum bogs as well as in and around damp swampy areas. Additionally, specimens can also be found growing along river banks and ditches. In North America, Pholiotina smithii appears during the early summer period, from late May to early June, almost never appearing after the first week of June.
Range: Not common and has only been reported in the states of Washington, Oregon, and Michigan. However, it’s actual range may be much larger.
The closest look-alike to Pholiotina smithii is Pholiotina cyanopus. These two only differ microscopically though P. Smithii is usually smaller and paler.
Pholiotina smithii can also be easily confused for the Pholiotina filaris. and Galerina marginata, both of which contains potentially deadly amotoxins. Again, the best way to tell the difference is under the microscope.
These are the most common lookalikes that amateur mycologists may mix up while hunting for Pholiotina smithii, but one should keep in mind that there are many small, brownish mushrooms that could look similar to P. Smithii to the untrained eye.
Potency & Dosage
The potency of Pholiotina smithii is currently unknown as its concentration of psychoactive alkaloids has not been formally assessed. And as it is rarely used, we don’t have anecdotal claims of potency, either. However, P. cyanopsis is almost identical to it in other respects and is be a moderately to highly potent mushroom.
Please note, however, that to add up to a single gram would require up to fifty of these small mushrooms dried.
Calculating the exact dosage of psilocybin from mushrooms is very difficult as a great degree of variability exists in the psychoactive alkaloid content of individual samples. This variability can be attributed to the state of the mushroom(fresh vs dried), the age of the mushroom, and the environment in which it was grown, as well as variation in the user’s biochemistry and current mental state.
It is best to be cautious and start with small doses and see how these affect you. From there, the dosage can be adjusted to achieve the desired effect.
The trip effects of P. smithii are not known as it is rarely used, but they are likely to be similar of those for other psilocybin mushrooms.
Psilocybin and similar alkaloids act through as yet not understood mechanisms that may involve serotonergic and sympathetic nervous systems to produce subjective alterations in a user’s sensorium and objective changes in various bodily systems that can be described as “pleasurable” when administered in low doses.[vi]
Trip effects most commonly occur within 15-20 minutes of ingestion and last roughly 6-8 hours, but trips persist for up to an entire day.
Most commonly users report pleasurable alterations in their perception of reality and time as well as their thoughts and mood. They may experience a variety of sensory hallucinations. Individuals may also experience mild to moderate disorientation, inappropriate behavior, unmotivated laughter, and emotional lability. On the other end of the spectrum “bad trips” may also occur. These refer to “trips” that are associated with severe anxiety and panic, psychosis, and emotional destabilization and derealization that may lead to loss of boundaries and dangerous, risk-taking behaviors. “Bad trips” are idiosyncratic reactions following psilocybin use, meaning they occur rarely and unpredictably among users. However, as these all experiences are subjective, they can be difficult to study.
Objective signs that follow psilocybin consumption include increased heart rate and blood pressure, pupillary dilation, facial flushing, headache, confusion, vertigo, agitation, muscle weakness, paraesthesias such as numbness in the face and extremities, nausea, vomiting, sweating, dry mouth, high body temperature, hyperreflexia, loss of urinary control, and even convulsions.
For more on trips check out these articles:
Toxicity, Safety, and Side Effects
Pholiotina smithii is not cultivated, meaning that the only way users could get a supply is to either collect it wild themselves or rely on someone else to collect it—and since this species has two very close look-alikes that can kill anyone who eats them, collecting from the wild is very much not recommended.
In other words, do not try to eat this mushroom.
That being said, P. smithii itself is not known to be toxic. It does contain psychoactive substances, and these can have unpleasant, even dangerous side-effects. The risk is greater for larger dose sizes, but as described above, calculating an appropriate dose size can be difficult. The most common serious side effect is intense anxiety, often referred to as a “bad trip.”
And even enjoyable trips can become dangerous if the user does something unsafe because of the influence of the mushroom or mixes mushrooms with other drugs.
Finally, use or possession of psilocybin is illegal in most jurisdictions, so users run the risk of prosecution. Penalties can be draconian.
As mentioned above, Pholiotina smithii is a rare mushroom in nature and is not cultivated. Due to this no information regarding suitable spawn mediums, methods of inoculation, colonization times, incubation, triggering of fruiting, or harvesting are available.
State law can vary, but it is against StatesUnited Stated federal law, to cultivate, grow, buy or possess, for either personal consumption or distribution, psilocybin-producing mushrooms. This is due to the United States Controlled Substances Act which lists psilocybin as a Schedule I substance.
As always, it is best to check your local rules and regulation regarding purchasing, growing, and/or consuming psilocybin-containing mushrooms.
[i] Stamets, P. (1996). The Minor Psilocybin Genera. In Psilocybin mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide. essay, Ten Speed Press.
[ii] Stamets, P. (1996). The Minor Psilocybin Genera. In Psilocybin mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide. essay, Ten Speed Press.
[iii] Hausknecht, Anton & Krisai-Greilhuber, Irmgard & Voglmayr, Hermann. (2004). Type studies in North American species of Bolbitiaceae belonging to the genera Conocybe and Pholiotina. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Pilzkunde. 13. 153-235.
[iv] Stamets, P. (1996). The Minor Psilocybin Genera. In Psilocybin mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide. essay, Ten Speed Press.
[v] Halama, Marek & Poliwoda, Anna & Jasicka-Misiak, Izabela & Wieczorek, Piotr & Rutkowski, Ryszard. (2014). Pholiotina cyanopus, a rare fungus producing psychoactive tryptamines. Open Life Sciences. 10. 40–51. 10.1515/biol-2015-0005.