Psilocybe Azurescens, a.k.a. Flying Saucer Mushroom, Blue Angels, Azzies, or Indigo Psilocybe
The most well-known of the Genus Psilocybe is Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer, a tropical/sub-tropical species which often grows in cow dung. They have a thick stem, a broad brown/yellow cap, and a skirt-like annulus. P. cubsensis are very easy to cultivate, and publicized most notably by Terrence McKenna and his “5 grams in silent darkness”, something you probably wouldn’t want to do with Psilocybe azurescens!
Psilocybe azurescens are often referred to by a variety of common names: Azzies, Astoriensis, Flying Saucers, Blue Runners, Blue Angels, or Indigo Psilocybe. With their caramel-colored caps, bright white stems, and broad umbo (the “nipple-like” structure in the center of the cap), Azurescens are quite distinctive in appearance, once you “get your eye in.” To the untrained eye, many Psilocybes can look like any other LBM’s (little brown mushrooms) hiding amongst the undergrowth. The general advice is to know the features of the species you are looking for, but also the ones you are not. Members of the genus Galerina, for example, can be deadly, and many other lookalikes can be poisonous.
Discovery of Psilocybe Azurescens: Strains in Oregon
As the story goes, they were first found In 1979 by a group of Boy Scouts, camping close to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. Some commentators assume they were probably known before this time, with local foragers referring to them as Psilocybe astoriensis or Psilocybe cyanescens var. [variety] “astoria ossip.” In 1995, mycologist Paul Stamets and his colleague Jochen Gartz formally described and named “Psilocybe azurescens”—after Stamets’ son Azureus, who had in turn been named after “Azure,” the color that psilocybin mushrooms bruise when damaged.
What do Psilocybe Azurescens Look Like?
Azurescens are closely related to Psilocybe cyanescens, Psilocybe allenii, the Australian species Psilocybe subaeruginosa, and New Zealand species Psilocybe weraroa. In appearance, they most closely resemble P. cyanescens and P. subaeruginosa. Mushrooms are the reproductive part of the fungus. The underneath of the cap are the gills (lamellae), where the spores (akin to seeds) are formed and ejected into the air so they can be distributed by air currents. By placing the cap on a piece of foil or paper, gills down, a spore print can be created to aid in identification, or used for cultivation.
Taxonomically, Psilocybe azurescens are described as having a dark caramel-colored cap (pileus) that is three to ten centimeters broad, conic to convex in shape, and flattening with age, with a persistent broad umbo (the nipple-like feature). The surface of the cap is smooth, with a viscous appearance when moist, feeling sticky to the touch, with a separable gelatinous pellicle that can be removed if the cap is broken carefully. The cap is hygrophanous: As it dries out it changes color, becoming a dirty brown or yellow.
Most people are likely to be more familiar with Psilocybe cubensis, the incredibly cosmopolitan species grown in cupboards and under beds all over the planet. In contrast to Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe azurescens are strong! Hold onto your hats, because they can be intense, highly visual, potentially hyperdimensional, and leave you wondering, “whoah…. What happened!”