Psilocybe plutonia

  • P. plutonia is named after Pluto, Greek God of the Underworld
  • Very small, dark mushroom. Nearly black when dried
  • Native to Caribbean and South America, related to P. yungensis
  • Potency unknown, suspected to be active. Starchy scent

Psilocybe plutonia is an enigmatic species that resides in the tropical forests of the Caribbean and South America. The mushroom grows alone or in groups on woody debris or mulched soil, near sea level, and is rare though widespread. First documented in Cuba in 1887, it has since been found in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Martinique and Guadeloupe.

The species is closely related to P. yungensis, sharing similar features and natural range, though it is normally found at much higher elevations (>1000m). Unlike its potent cousin, P. plutonia is suspected to be psychoactive, likely at lower levels, though it is not yet confirmed. Its flavour is equally unknown, though its starchy scent is said to be similar to other Psilocybe species.

The rarity of P. plutonia may, in part, be due to its diminutive stature. The reddish- to yellowish-brown cap rarely grows larger than 1.5 centimetres; the incredibly slender stipe, hollow and bare, tops out at 5 centimetres. Spotting these mushrooms in the wild is made even more difficult by their dark colour: the stipe is usually a dark or reddish brown and the entire mushroom can approach near blackness with age.

The name P. plutonia refers to this darkness; Pluto was the God tasked with presiding over the underworld, also known as Hades. While it has a dark and vivid overall colour when wet; when dried it is often near jet black, though they may also present with a light clay colour if they were picked gently when young.

In nearly all other ways, this species resembles P. yungensis. The cap is conic or convex, often displaying an acute umbo or distinct papilla. The edges of wet specimens have subtle translucent striations and the caps of very young mushrooms may have silky fibrils that fade with age.

Though P. plutonia is rare, and may not even be psychoactive, it is still a unique and mysterious Psilocybe.

Torres, Mabel. “The hallucinogenic species of Psilocybe (Fr.) P. Kumm.(Agaricomycetideae) in Colombia, Their indian use, new records, and new species.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms 6.1 (2004).

Image by Peter de Boer via Truffle Magic.