While the Psilocybe genus, including the well-known Psilocybe cubensis, is the most common source of magic mushrooms, other genera such as Panaeolus, Gymnopilus, and Inocybe also produce psilocybin. Among these less familiar species is Pluteus americanus, the focus of our exploration today.
The mushroom was first collected by American mycologist Alexander Smith in Michigan in 1957 and can only be found in North America and some eastern parts of Russia. Initially it was believed to be a variety of the willow shield mushroom (Pluteus salicinius), however through genetic studies carried out in 2014, it was confirmed to be a completely separate species.
Scientists speculate that horizontal gene transfer may be responsible for the presence of psilocybin in numerous distantly-related fungi. This phenomenon may have been driven by their similar ecological roles in decomposing dead matter. Psilocybin and psilocin might serve to deter insects from consuming the fungi before their spores are released, providing an adaptive advantage to mushrooms with these compounds.
Few studies have examined the chemical composition of Pluteus americanus, but it is estimated to have around half to a third of the potency of Psilocybe cubensis. However, variations in potency have been reported among individual mushrooms and through different growing locations. Here are some estimates of the compounds contained and their respective concentration levels:
0.007 - 0.02%
Primarily found in North America and eastern Canada, however there have also been sightings around the Appalachian Mountains and Great Lakes, as well as in Arizona and California. The species has also been reported in some parts of eastern Russia.
As a wood-loving species, Pluteus americanus grows on hardwood trees like ash, cottonwood, birch, and maple. The best time to find these mushrooms is between July and October.
Pluteus americanus typically grows alone or in small groups, with caps reaching about 2 ¼ inches in diameter. The caps are brownish-gray and hygrophanous, changing color as they dry. Gills are initially white but turn pink with age. The straight, white stem may have tinges of bluish-green, especially near the base. A distinguishing feature of Pluteus americanus is its scent, reminiscent of the leaves of the Pelargonium genus (commonly referred to as geraniums).
While Pluteus americanus is a wood-growing species, it has not been linked to wood lover's paralysis, a puzzling condition typically associated with the consumption of wood-dwelling Psilocybe species. However, the lack of evidence should not be considered proof of its absence, and the absence of reported cases may simply result from its relatively lower popularity among magic mushroom enthusiasts. In light of the limited information on wood lover's paralysis and the varying potency levels among magic mushrooms, it is advisable to exercise caution when dosing Pluteus americanus.
In our exploration of the magic mushroom realm, we've managed to uncover the intriguing Pluteus americanus, a lesser-known relative of Psilocybe cubensis. Through the wonders of horizontal gene transfer, various fungi seem to possess the power of psilocybin. Pluteus Americanus may not be as potent as its famous cousin, but it still holds its own charm hidden within the depths of North American forests. Remember to always appreciate the uniqueness of mushrooms and respect mushrooms as they can have risks attached to them
Happy hunting, and let your journey be filled with fruitful pickings :)
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