What are Magic Mushrooms?

‘Magic mushrooms’ is a slang word for psilocybe semilanceata or ‘liberty cap’ mushrooms (the most common type of ‘magic mushroom’ in the UK) and any other mushroom which produces similar ’trippy’ effects, like hallucinations.

It is important to know that different types of ‘magic mushroom’ will differ in how strong and how toxic they are.

For example, the amanita muscaria or ‘fly agaric’ mushroom is stronger than the traditional ‘liberty cap’ mushroom

After picking, magic mushrooms are often eaten raw or are dried out and stored. Some people use the dried mushrooms to make tea. Drying reduces the weight of the ‘magic mushrooms’, but not their potency. People don’t tend to eat fly agaric mushrooms raw as they can make you feel really sick and also because there is a greater risk of poisoning and death from this family of mushrooms.

Here are the main effects and risks of magic mushrooms:

  • Colours, sounds and objects appear distorted.
  • Your sense of time and movement can speed up – or slow down.
  • You may feel disoriented, tired or sick – and some users can get stomach pains or diarrhoea.

What do magic mushrooms look like?

‘Magic mushrooms’ grow wild in the UK and can be easily picked if you know where to find them. If you buy them, they can cost up to £5 for a handful. As you’d expect with something that grows naturally, the strength varies depending on the freshness, the season and where they grow.

  • Liberty caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata), are small, tan-coloured mushrooms and look a little like a woolly hat on a thin stalk. They also bruise blue when they’re touched.
  • Fly agaric (Amanita Muscaria), are more like the red and white spotted toadstools you’ll see in fairytale books and films. Some of these types of mushroom are poisonous, so if you don’t know what you’re doing, you certainly shouldn’t take them.

The effects of magic mushrooms can take between 30 minutes to two hours to kick in. The strongest part of the ‘trip’ can last for 4-10 hours and the after-effects usually last a further 2-6 hours. The more you take, the longer your trip could last.