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Which mushroom species named after Paul Stamets?

A novel magic mushroom species has been identified and dedicated to Paul Stamets, a renowned figure celebrated for cultivating a global love for fungi.

Psilocybe stametsii, a recently uncovered species, was initially spotted in Ecuador's cloud forest and has been gathered on two occasions: first in 2011 by University of Utah's Dr. Bryn Dentinger and a partner, followed by a 2022 collection by Giuliana Furci of the Fungi Foundation, who collaborated with the likes of author Robert Macfarlane and musician Cosmo Sheldrake. 

This mushroom was found within the protected confines of the Los Cedros Biological Reserve, an area maintained under the Ecuadorian constitution's Rights of Nature stipulations. 

Giuliana Furci, who co-published the discovery using the Index Fungorum e-publishing tool hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, expressed immense joy in honoring Paul Stamets with the new mushroom species. She acknowledged his unmatched influence on the worldwide appreciation of fungi and his unwavering commitment to advancing mycology, which has inspired countless people for decades. We’ve written about Paul Stamets in the past, so for more details on his illustrious career and contributions to the fungus realm, check out our blog.

This marks the first occasion a species has been named after Stamets, rendering it particularly significant as the mushroom belongs to the Psilocybe genus. These fungi have ancient uses and are currently being employed and researched for therapeutic purposes in modern medicine due to their psilocybin production. Stamets has devoted a significant part of his career to studying these fungi, even publishing the book "Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World" in 1996. 

In 1996, he named a newly discovered Psilocybe species after Dr. Andrew Weil (Psilocybe weilii), a distinguished figure in natural medicine, and in 1995, he identified another species called Psilocybe azurescens. Prior to these discoveries, Paul had written a collection of educational guides on cultivating both gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, which continue to serve as the definitive resources for mushroom cultivation. 

Dr. Dentinger elaborates on the unique qualities of Psilocybe stametsii, mentioning that it seems to be an isolated species, observed just twice and on each occasion as a lone, unobtrusive mushroom no larger than a matchstick. It shares similarities with other magic mushrooms, displaying shades of brown and blending effortlessly into its surroundings of decaying leaves and soil. One distinguishing aspect is its sharp, pointed cap, which is also present in related species. 

Another surprising discovery was that from a phylogenetic standpoint, it is most closely linked to an environmental DNA sequence in soil from China and stands apart evolutionarily from other recognized Psilocybe species found in Bolivia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. 

Interestingly enough, A mere 5-10% of global fungi have been identified, making the documentation of newfound species essential for creating a foundation for monitoring biodiversity and potentially offering new data sources that could positively impact both human and planetary health. Fungi, which are neither plants nor animals, are often overlooked in terms of importance; however, they are intricate organisms that constitute their own distinct kingdom. 

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