Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa

  • “Rhododendron” or “Blue-haired” Psilocybe
  • Rare. Found in the Pacific Northwest, recently in Colombia
  • Low to moderate potency. Activity primarily from psilocin
  • Grows in woody debris, mulch, chips, sawdust

Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa is commonly known by the names of “Rhododendron” or “Blue-haired” Psilocybe. The latter name refers to the small blue hairs, or “fibrils” that are often found near the base of the stipe. They are relatively uncommon in their range, which is shared with a number of other more popular Psilocybe species.

Though little is known due to their rarity, they likely have a low to moderate potency. From anecdotal evidence, this species loses a significant portion of its strength through drying. While the dry weight of alkaloids is likely only around 0.25%, this is comprised primarily of psilocin, usually the secondary alkaloid in other species.

They are primarily found in the Pacific Northwest of North America, originally found by science in the state of Washington in 1980. More recently, some stray patches have been discovered as far south as Colombia. P. cyanofibrillosa has a preference for coastal regions, along with floodplains and river estuaries.

The mushrooms are normally found on or around woody debris, requiring a nitrogen-rich substrate. They have a preference for wood chips or mulch, specifically that of Alder or Willow. Even sawdust of fir trees found around logging operations is a suitable location. Due to similar preferences, P. cyanofibrillosa is frequently found alongside brightly-coloured bush lupines.

P. cyanofibrillosa shares some similarities with other magic mushrooms in the same range. A microscope is required to differentiate it from P. cyanescens or P. subfimetaria. Regardless, all are edible with a floury scent and taste. Due to their rarity, P. cyanofibrillosa are often confused for or with other more common species.

The mushrooms have few distinct features, all common to other members of the Psilocybe genus. The conic cap, 1.5-3.5 cm wide, flattens with age. When wet, it has a chestnut brown colour and has translucent striations near the edge. A separable jelly-like pellicle makes the cap slippery or sticky when moist.

When young, there may be thin tissue that connects the edge of the cap to the stipe, known as a veil or cortina. The stipe is variable, and often has vertical striations or stripes. It is 3-8 cm long and usually has root-like structures, or rhizomorphs, near the base. These, along with smaller fibrils, turn blue with age or damage.

Though rare and with a low potency, these mushrooms haven’t received much attention. With their temperate growing temperature and growth in sawdust and wood chips, this species may become more popular as interest grows.

Stamets PE, Beug MW, Bigwood JE, Guzmán G. (1980). A new species and new variety of Psilocybe from North America. Mycotaxon 11(2): 476-484.

Image from Alan Rockefeller (Alan Rockefeller) at Mushroom Observer.