Psilocybe aztecorum belongs to a group of species that are well known for having historical use in ancient civilizations. Along with P. caerulescens, it is suspected to be “the flesh of the Gods”, or teonanacatl, legendary for its spiritual use among the Aztecs and related tribes. Its modern use is largely restricted to a recreational magic mushroom, with ceremonial use by the Nahua tribes of Mexico waning.
They are commonly known as “ninos” or “ninitos” (children, or little children) in Spanish, referring to their size; or “apipiltzin” (children of water) in Nahuatl, for their frequently growing near ravines or waterfalls. Further names are common among local tribes, attributed to its relatively large natural range throughout Mexico. Largely restricted to mountainous regions with higher elevations, they can also be found in Costa Rica and parts of the United States, where samples may be marked as Psilocybe bonetii, an old species now combined with P. aztecorum.
P. aztecorum may also be found in the wild as far as India. Psilocybe natarajanii is contentiously considered either a close relative or even the same species. Even as close relatives, they would require a microscope to differentiate. Due to its “generic Psilocybe” characteristics, it is commonly confused with other species:
- P. mexicana (the original sample of P. aztecorum was confused for this common species)
- P. baeocystis (a microscope is required to differentiate the two)
- P. quebecensis (only found in Quebec, Canada)
- P. pseudoaztecorum (only found in India)
- P. pelliculosa (only found in the Pacific Northwest of North America)
A few features of P. aztecorum allow it to be successfully identified. The cap rarely bruises blue as a result of age or handling, only lightly at the edges, at odds with most of the other Psilocybe species. Further, these mushrooms frequently have “rhizomorphs” or “mycelial cords”, often appearing as white, branched root-like structures near the base of the stipe. While this characteristic may be rare among the Psilocybe genus, it may cause confusion with toxic mushrooms of other genera.
Aside from wild harvest, P. aztecorum may be cultivated from spores, or home grow kits or setups. Happily growing on nearly any lignacious (woody) substrate, they frequently form “bouquets” of five to 20 mushrooms. Their moderate to high potency, assessed by the American mycologist Paul Stamets, makes them a popular choice for size-restricted cultivation. Only two to four grams of these dried fruiting bodies can be considered a large dose. These small fungi boast a significant impact, both historically and through their potency.