Psilocybe hoogshagenii is a species with a very characteristic and exotic appearance. It has a small but tall cap that usually takes the shape of a cone or bell, sticky to the touch when wet. Its defining trait is the long papilla that emerges from the centre of the cap, a relatively rare occurrence among the common Psilocybe species. A minor complexity arises with the sub-species or variant P. hoogshagenii var. convexa, identical in every way to the primary species but lacking the characteristic papilla.
Native to Central and South America, P. hoogshagenii is found in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. It is a frequent resident near coffee plantations, it shares similar preferences with coffee in terms of elevation and soil type. The archetypal habitat for this species is clay-rich, muddy, reddish soil at high elevations. Anecdotal observations by coffee farmers indicate that this species is likely to fruit in mass numbers, following a cyclical pattern of growth and die-off.
This simultaneous fruiting seems to have provoked its use as a ceremonial and spiritual tool, a massive singular arrival allowed for significant quantities of a fresh and potent hallucinogen that could be distributed. P. hoogshagenii has long been considered a “wise” mushroom, consumed when one was in need of clear decision-making or to seek prophecy for upcoming events. This made them popular among the indigenous people of Mexico, including the Aztecs, Mixe and Zapotec tribes. For the same reason, they are still used ceremoniously by the “curanderos”, witch doctors or shamans, of the Oaxaca region in Mexico.
Due to their long history, this species has acquired a number of spiritual and colloquial names: In Spanish, they are called “los ninos” or “los Chamaquitos”, meaning “little boys” referring to their small and exploratory nature; in Mazatec, they are called “pajaritos de monte”, meaning “little birds of the woods”; in Mixe, they are called “Atka:t” or “na.shwi.n mush”, meaning “Judge” and “Mushroom of the Earth” further referring to their divinitory powers.
P. hoogshagenii is considered a highly to moderately potent species, with one gram of dried material providing an adequate dose. Various studies have discovered that the ratio of psilocybin and psilocin is close to 1:1, varying between cultures and with age. This results in a fast and intense bluing reaction when handled or damaged. On the potency scale, it ranks around or above P. cubensis, a highly popular recreational species.
For those seeking to cultivate P. hoogshagenii at home, there are spores of the variant convexa available online. However, little information is available on their cultivation, with other species like P. cubensis taking favour with its similar potency. Regardless, for those living in Central or South America, this mushroom may be a significant and potent wild find.