Psilocybe caerulescens is commonly known as the “landslide mushroom” or “derrumbe” in Spanish, translating to “collapse”. This is due entirely to their penchant for growing on disturbed ground that is devoid of plants, often near rivers, streams and ravines. This, combined with their likelihood to grow in sunny locations, made their wild cultivation popular for centuries and into the present day.
This species is frequently suspected to be the primary entheogen used for spiritual purposes by the Aztec civilization in ancient Mexico, ascending to a legendary status by the time of the arrival of Europeans in the 17th century. Its use, and reverent name “teonanacatl” (“the God fungus”), continue among the shamans of Mazatec tribes found in the Sierra Mazateca in modern Mexico.
It is found naturally from June to October in many parts of Mexico and certain limited ranges in the United States, such as the states of Georgia and Florida. It is hardy to lower temperatures and is frequently found at higher elevations, though not strictly. When not found at the former site of a landslide, it can commonly be encountered among sugar-cane mulch near sugar plantations, or on exposed ground made by livestock in pastures.
P. caerulescens has a characteristic silvery-blue metallic luster that makes it easier to differentiate in it’s rapidly expanding wild distribution. While this may provide a clue, it has large variation in the size and shape of its cap, restricting responsible wild cultivation to those who can confidently identify this species. Regardless, this variation can result in these mushrooms growing to surprising size, up to 15 cm wide and tall, with a thick stipe. While larger fruiting bodies are generally less potent, they can be equivalent with smaller mushrooms on a gram for gram basis.
Its relative ease of cultivation has also made it a popular species for home growth, however the same significant variation is expected between fruiting bodies of the same mycelium. While having a mild flavour and scent reminiscent of cucumber, it is generally considered to have a lower relative potency, with a plateau of effects lasting only three to six hours. This can make it an eligible “entry-level” species among the magic mushrooms, for both a pleasant experience and high edibility.
Alongside its historical, spiritual, and recreational usage, this species has shown preliminary promise in regards to its medicinal effects. Not only do these fungi contain psilocybin and psilocin, the primary neurotropic compounds, they may also have smaller trace amounts of complex molecules. While human trials have yet to begin, this species is mentioned in a set of patents describing potential anti-viral capacities, obtained in the USA by Paul Stamets, a renowned American mycologist and advocate for the medicinal use of fungi.
After centuries of use by the great civilizations of ancient Mexico, to modern spiritual use and recreational enjoyment, Psilocybe caerulescens has yet to reveal its full potential, especially as a medicinal fungus. Along with its name referencing the characteristic bluing reaction common to the Psilocybe genus, cerulean blue, P. caerulescens has also rightly earned its place among the “magic” mushrooms.