Liberty Caps is a species of fungus which produces the psychoactive compounds psilocybin and baeocystin. It is both one of the most widely distributed psilocybin mushrooms in nature, and one of the most potent. The mushrooms have a distinctive conical to bell-shaped cap, up to 2.5 cm (1.0 in) in diameter, with a small nipple-like protrusion on the top. They are yellow to brown, covered with radial grooves when moist, and fade to a lighter color as they mature. Their stipes tend to be slender and long, and the same color or slightly lighter than the cap. Psilocybe semilanceata, commonly known in the UK as the Magic Mushroom, and in the USA as Liberty Cap, appears in grassland in autumn. It is most commonly found on pasture and parkland that has not been enriched with artificial fertiliser.
The psilocybin that is found in Liberty Cap mushrooms is a known hallucinogenic. It is created from the DNA of the mushroom as it blossoms from its moist foundation into a pointy-capped edible.
Usage of Liberty caps
Psilocybe semilanceata intoxication involved a British family in 1799, who prepared a meal with mushrooms they had picked in London’s Green Park. According to the chemist Augustus Everard Brande, the father and his four children experienced typical symptoms associated with ingestion, including pupil dilation, spontaneous laughter and delirium. The identification of the species responsible was made possible by James Sowerby’s 1803 book Coloured Figures of English Fungi or Mushrooms, which included a description of the fungus, then known as Agaricus glutinosus (originally described by Moses Ashley Curtis in 1780). According to German mycologist Jochen Gartz, the description of the species is “fully compatible with current knowledge about Psilocybe semilanceata
The effects of liberty caps are similar to those from a mild dose of LSD and can vary depending on the mood, situation and expectation of the user.
Effects come on after about half an hour and last up to 9 hours depending on the numbers taken. Users often laugh a lot and feel more confident. Some people find that they feel sick and suffer from stomach aches. Higher doses result in a mild to moderate trip with visual and sound distortions.
“It’s a natural high. I giggle a lot and feel more relaxed. It changes the way you see and feel about things. You discover new things about yourself”.
A bad trip can be very frightening and may include feelings of anxiety and paranoia. This is more likely with high doses and where the user already feels anxious. People who experience a bad trip can usually be calmed by others reassuring them.
As with LSD, flashbacks can be experienced some time later. This is when people re-experience part of a trip. This can be particularly frightening if users aren’t expecting them. After a time, flashbacks invariably fade of their own accord.
“All of a sudden the walls started to move. I wanted it to end but once you start you can’t stop it. It really took a toll on my head”.
The greatest risk associated with using magic mushrooms is picking the wrong type of mushroom and being poisoned. Eating some varieties, especially Amanita phalloides and Amanita virosa can be fatal.