Despite being different organisms, truffles and sclerotia are often mistaken for each other. Or, at least, many of us refer to sclerotia as magic truffles. While this might be caused by their similar appearance, there is another potential explanation for the misnomer. It may be caused by the less appealing sound of sclerotia – because although truffles are a highly sought-after food, let’s face it, sclerotia does NOT sound delicious.
So, as these two terms are often used interchangeably, let’s start with some definitions.
Sclerotia: The resting stage in many fungi. A compact mass of hardened mycelium living underground. Sclerotia may contain the psychoactive compound psilocybin, which is why almost all of us inaccurately call them magic truffles.
Truffles: The edible, subterranean fruiting body of a fungus. Typically found near the roots of trees and valued as a delicacy. Truffles do not contain psilocybin.
Ok, they’re not the same thing, but what are the main differences?
From a mycological perspective, truffles are reproductive structures. They contain spores which are spread once they are excreted by the animals that eat them. Technically, truffles have a symbiotic relationship with their host tree, meaning both are gaining from the relationship.
Sclerotia, on the other hand, are just sclerotia and NOT a truffle, as the host mushrooms only take from the sclerotia. They therefore exist only to ensure the shrooms can survive under poor conditions, without necessarily gaining anything from the relationship. They are like a back up generator for times of drought, freezing, or nutrient depletion.
What did I buy from my smartshop?
Well, in most countries, psilocybin containing mushrooms are not allowed. The Netherlands (home of Mondo) is an exception to this. In Amsterdam and beyond you will find that sclerotia are sold as magic truffles despite not scientifically being a truffle are in fact legally sold in smart shops.
As with any psychoactive substance, it is important to conduct research before taking sclerotia, even if you buy them from the most reputable sources like Mondo.
Are you 18 years or older?