Psilocybe pelliculosa is a fungus that has thrived due to human activity. Known as the “Conifer Psilocybe” or “Elf Stool”, they are found among the conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest of North America. While naturally very rare, they happily grow in the thousands near forest trails and roads, and clear cut areas of logging operations. They are generally discovered on moss, woody debris or dark soil from October to December, usually after wet and cool weather.
The massive fruiting, in open or clear areas, of this species has made it familiar to those who live in region. However, the low potency of P. pelliculosa, and its tendency to be non-psychoactive when grown artificially, has made it rare as a recreational species outside of its natural range. When found in the wild, it does contain psilocybin and trace baeocystin, but the average dose requires the consumption of twenty to sixty fresh mushrooms, or two to eight grams of dried.
This mushroom has many similarities to other species that are both active and non-active. Features match other genera such as Mycena, Galerina and Hypholoma. Hypholoma specifically share a preference for ecology and are usually found nearby P. pelliculosa. Further, other members of Psilocybe share similar traits: P. semilanceata is nearly identical except for having a papilla, P. silvatica differs only microscopically, and P. washingtonesis is frequently confused as it shares a similar range.
For identification, P. pelliculosa maintains a combination of characteristic traits. It is frequently sticky to the touch and has a “pellicle”, a jelly-like layer on the cap that can be removed. When wet, it has translucent striations near the edges of the small cap, which is conic or bell-shaped, but never flat. The long and slender stipe is covered with whitish fibrils or hairs that may be pressed flat; the base of the stem is one of the few parts of the fruiting body that will reliable bruise blue when injured.
P. pelliculosa has recently made its way to Europe, where a solitary collection was discovered recently in Finland. This may signal increased popularity of this species outside North America in the coming future. However, their inability to be grown indoors will likely limit this spread. Regardless, the low potency likely limits this species to a form of consumption known as “microdosing”, a technique that utilizes sub-active levels of psilocybin for wellbeing, a contentious and unproven claim.