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The Complete Guide to Liberty Caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata)

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

While many species of magic mushrooms are highly toxic or hallucinogenic (or both), this is not the case with all psychedelic mushrooms. One notable example is Psilocybe Semilanceata, also known as Liberty Caps, which have been a favorite among mushroom enthusiasts since they were first discovered in the late 1960s. This guide will give you everything you need to know about Liberty Caps to accurately identify them and enjoy their unique effects with minimal risk.

Liberty caps are one of the most fascinating, mysterious, and beautiful fungi. These brownish-yellow capped mushrooms grow in cool, humid areas in autumn mainly from September to October. They can also be found in spring, but this is less common. These delicate little mushrooms only grow under specific conditions and are pretty rare. They are considered endangered in some parts of the world.

Their restricted habitat makes them a challenging target for mushroom hunters. Many people have never seen a liberty cap before unless they find one by chance during a walk in the woods. If you love nature and want to learn about liberty caps, this article is for you! You will find everything you need to know about these fascinating capped friends of the woods.

What Is A Liberty Cap?

Liberty caps are small, conical mushrooms with a brownish-yellow cap and white to yellowish gills. The Liberty Cap is one of the most potent magic mushroom in the world and is one of the most famous psychedelic mushrooms in use today. They are often known as ‘magic mushrooms,’ ‘shrooms,’ or just plain ‘liberty caps.’ You’ve probably seen them before: they’re small, conical mushrooms with a brownish-yellow cap. The gills are white to yellowish and have a ring on their stems that looks like a pileus (cap).

Liberty caps are also known as Psilocybe semilanceata, which means “hairy” in Greek. These mushrooms grow all over Europe and North America, although they prefer warmer climates.

These mushrooms aren’t just for hippies anymore: scientists are investigating them for medical purposes! They’re currently being tested for their ability to treat anxiety and depression in cancer patients.

The History Of Liberty Caps

hallucinogenic mushroom native

The history of magic mushrooms can be traced back to the earliest recorded mention of their psychoactive effects. Dr. Everard Brande was known to the London home of a poor family experiencing an array of symptoms on October 3, 1799. They felt that something had tampered with their food and they were poisoned.

Brande wrote a detailed description of the incident for the Medical and Physical Journal. According to Brande, the family’s father seemed to make his day as usual when he woke up in the morning. He went to Green Park early in the morning to gather small field mushrooms for his family’s breakfast. They will be used as part of a broth.

But after their breakfast, the family started to show some worrying symptoms. It seemed that “J.S” had developed vertigo, a loss of balance, and black spots across his vision. After sleeping in the same bed as their relative, the rest of the family complained of stomach cramps, poisoning, and feelings of numbness in their hands and feet. The father left the house seeking help. But a few hundred yards in, he started to disorientate and remember how he had forgotten what he was doing or where he was going.

When the doctor arrived, the family’s symptoms were coming and going. A phenomenon they experienced was a series of evidence accumulation, in which they would have intense symptoms and then return to normal but with their old symptoms. The family has a drug addiction, except for the 8-year-old Edward. He was convinced he would die, but then he managed to convince the family they all needed help.

He was laughing wildly and hysterically, but not even his dad or mom could calm him down. The doctors observed Edward’s dilated pupils and concluded that he was not making any sense in his speech. The doctor wasn’t sure what kind of mushroom it was. The substance producing hallucinogenic fungi effects was not found until the early 60s.

How To Identify A Liberty Mushroom Cap?

Liberty caps look like brown or tan mushrooms with pointed tips and no stem. Their color may vary from light yellow-brown color to dark brown, depending on the environment where they’re growing. They can be anywhere from one inch to two inches tall.

Liberty caps have an almond-like odor when crushed or dried out, although fresh specimens don’t have much of an aroma. They produce spores on the underside of their caps that look like yellowish-brown dots or lines when viewed through a microscope (see photo below). These spores are often found on dead leaves or other forest debris near where liberty caps grow naturally; however, you may also find them on your own if you handle these mushrooms without gloves.

The Appearance of Liberty Caps Mushrooms

liberty cap


As mentioned, bell-shaped caps are a typical attribute of the Liberty Cap mushroom. The shape of the cap stays the same throughout their life cycle. Younger Liberty Caps would have a rolled-in (edge) cap margin, which would gradually unroll as the mushroom grew older. Some mushrooms increase in size with maturity. When this happens, their margins roll upwards.

The color of these caps is affected by the moisture level around them. This property is called hygrophanous (having a change in color due to changes in moisture). The dark brown color of these bite-sized delicacies is often a sign that they’re dried, but sometimes they take on a lighter chestnut shade when moist. As the caps dry, they take on a pale yellow-brown color. When bruised, they turn bluish-green.

In wet environments, the radial grooves corresponding to the gills underneath can be seen on the caps. The wet cap of a psilocybe semilanceata hangs down and is sticky. If exposed to the sun, gelatin can dry out and become brittle. It is difficult to peel it apart without stretching.


The cap of the Psilocybe Semilanceata under the veil has 15-27 gills. Each gill is attached to the stem’s free edge. The gills are initially pale brown, but as the mushroom matures, they become brownish-purple.

Spore Print

The spores appear reddish or purple-brown. The color of the spores can be used to distinguish Psilocybe Semilanceata from other species of mushrooms.


The Liberty Cap mushroom has a slender stem that is yellowish-brown in color. The heights of these mushrooms range between 1 3/4″ and five 1/2″. They usually have thicker stalks at the base.


The Liberty Cap fungus thrives in high humidity and dies when it’s too cold. They usually produce fruit during autumn and die in the winter. On the other hand, it has increased in warmer climates like Texas and Florida from September to December.


Psilocybe semilanceata hair-like veil, which is thin and disappears as the mushroom matures, disappears. The skin is delicate. After it fades, the veil leaves a ring zone on the stem (often called a “paranematal line”). Some mushrooms have an extra long stem, and the region near where it attaches to the cap is often darker.


Psilocybe semilanceata flourishes in wetlands. They can be found in giant dunes, grasslands, clay grounds, or old farms. They do well on organic waste and in places with rich, organic soil.

Where Do Liberty Caps Grow?

liberty cap

You may find these mushrooms in pastures because that’s where animals’ manure falls and fertilizes the soil. Some mushrooms aren’t the same species as those that grow on cow dung like Psilocybe cubensis.

Gastón Guzmán, a Mexican mycologist and an expert on Psilocybe mushrooms, said in his 1983 monograph that these magic mushrooms are the world’s most widespread psilocybin mushroom species. There are many countries in which these psilocybe species native are found, with a wide distribution in Europe, where they are considered endemic.

Liberty caps are found in many different locations across the globe. However, they are initially from Europe and can be found in Germany, Hungary, Greece, Finland, Estonia, France, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Turkey. They can also be found in Ukraine and Pakistan. In Canada, they are located in Ontario, Nova Scotia, Quebec, New Brunswick, and British Columbia. The liberty caps can be found in the Pacific Northwest and on the Cascade mountains’ western side in the United States.

The Origins Of The Name “Liberty Caps”

liberty cap

The name ‘mushroom’ is derived from the shape of Phrygian helmets, also known as “liberty caps.” The original liberty cap symbolized freedom and liberation for enslaved people in the Roman world. Wearing this cap marked their status as liberated individuals. They were more than just these “free” prostitutes thrown around casually these days. The hat they were given represented their pride in their work, but if you looked closely, you could see it was also a representation of their shame.

The coins he minted after Caesar’s murder announced to the world that he had played an integral, if not decisive, role in the opposition against Rome’s Dictator. The abbreviation “EID MAR” means Ides of March. It was the day Caesar had been assassinated. The coin also includes two daggers and a distinctive liberty cap. The cap became a symbol of power signifying freedom- an expression used by authoritarian leaders to justify their absolute rule.

Over the years, awareness of liberty caps has increased with more people interested in Roman antiquity. Dutch coins dating back to 1577 feature the Dutch national emblem, a liberty cap. Whilst William of Orange has been seen as the champion of English liberties and Protestantism, not everything he did or said is admirable. After seizing the English throne in 1688, William of Orange is reported to have minted coins with the Liberty Cap insignia – a peacock waving its tail (le petit dé) in front while trampling on an urn.

Uses For Liberty Caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata)

  • They are commonly used by people who want a pleasant, relaxing experience without the fear of being overwhelmed. Most people describe their experiences as “spiritual” or “mind-expanding.”

  • Liberty Caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata) treat anxiety and depression and increase libido in both men and women.

  • It can also reduce pain from arthritis, migraines, rheumatism, menstrual cramps, and other conditions.

  • Liberty Cap (Psilocybe Semilanceata) can also be used to treat insomnia and improve sleep quality.

  • Some people use it as an appetite suppressant or weight loss supplement due to its ability to reduce appetite while enhancing moods and feelings of euphoria or blissfulness with long-term use.

  • Since ancient times, liberty caps have been used in Europe as a medicine, aphrodisiac, and hallucinogenic drug. Shamans also used them in Siberia to induce visions and cure diseases of the mind and body.

What Are The Effects Of Consuming Magic Mushrooms?

Poisonous Species of Wild Mushrooms

Liberty caps are a saprobic grassland species. Psilocybe semilanceata fruits solitarily or in groups on rich and acidic soil, typically in grasslands, such as pastures, meadows, or lawns. Liberty caps are one of the most beginner-friendly magic mushrooms. They don’t have strong psychoactive effects and can be an excellent first step into psychedelics. After consuming liberty caps, users have reported feeling happy, empathetic, and social. Generally, liberty caps usually cause mild hallucinations. Many people suffer from stomach aches and painful limbs after consuming any mushroom, not just liberty caps. Taking large doses of these drugs can lead to severe hallucinations and confusion.

Semilanceata lookalikes can easily mix up a harmless mushroom with one with deadly toxins; this can have disastrous consequences, such as death. Below you can see the most common Magic Mushrooms of the Psilocybe Semilanceata family.

Conocybe Apala

Like the Psilocybe Semilanceata, Conocybe Apala is cone-shaped. However, their stems are whitish, and the spores are reddish-brown. Conocybe Apala is much more fragile than Psilocybe Semilanceata. They tend to break easily. Grass plants grow all over. The caps are not shiny/shiny when fresh, fully mature, or dried up.

Psilocybe Liniformans

These little mushrooms are a rare Psilocybe Semilanceata lookalike species and are primarily found in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, they are commonly referred to as “slijmrandkaalkopje“. There’s a slimy border on the underside of the mushroom’s gills. When you pull the border, it behaves like a rubber band.

Psilocybe Cubensis

It is probably one of the most popular and well-known magic mushrooms. It’s also known by its scientific name: Stropharia Cubensis. It contains psilocybin, a hallucinogenic compound that gives users psychedelic experiences when consumed. It has been used for thousands of years for spiritual and healing purposes.

Learn More: An Introductory Guide to Psilocybe Cubensis 

Psilocybe Fimetaria

These are mainly found in Western Europe, most notably the Netherlands. They are also known as Stropharia Fimetaria. The mushroom, Psilocybe Fimetaria, has a blue base, unlike the Psilocybe semilanceata.

Psilocybe Strictipes

Psilocybe semilanceata can be identified explicitly from psilocybe strictipes because they lack papilla.

Pholiotina Rugosa

Lookalikes of the liberty caps are not always safe, as seen by the Pholiota Rugosa. It is extraordinarily edible and poisonous mushrooms that mimic the shape and color of liberty caps. Some differences between the Amanita Muscaria and the P Semilanceata include a ring zone on the stem and rusty brown spores. Like the Psilocybe Semilanceata, Pholiotina Rugosa too is hygrophanous.

What are the Potential Benefits of Consuming Liberty Caps?

liberty cap

Liberty caps (Psilocybe semilanceata) are a type of hallucinogenic mushrooms that have been used for thousands of years by humans. The people who have consumed this fungus have reported increased creativity, a feeling of euphoria, and a sense of connection with the world around them.

Dissolve your ego and increase creativity:

According to the Psilocybin Mushrooms General Survey, users’ most common experience is a dissolution of their ego and increased creativity. The effect is described as “clarity” or “insight,” allowing you to see beyond your own biases and the nature of reality itself.

Smoking cessation and other addictions:

A study was done at Johns Hopkins University on smoking cessation in which participants were given psilocybin or a placebo along with psychotherapy sessions. The results showed that 12 months after treatment, smoking rates had decreased from 60% to 10%.

Reduce depression:

In one study, patients who received psilocybin treatment for major depression showed significant improvement in their symptoms from before treatment to 6 months after treatment, but not at 12 months post-treatment. However, according to another study on neuroticism scores (a personality trait associated with negative emotionality), psilocybin use resulted in decreased neuroticism scores after 1-year follow-up compared to those who did not use psilocybin during the same period.

Additional Research

genus Psilocybe

Botanical artist James Sowerby found the species matched the picture in his book Coloured Figures of English Fungi or Mushrooms. The artist read the account from Brande and drew the mushrooms he thought were responsible.

Elias Magnus Fries classified the species as Agaricus semilanceatus in his 1838 work Epicrisis Systematis Mycologici.

The German scientist Paul Kummer scientifically classified the species as “genus Psilocybe” in 1871.

Jakob Emanuel Lange was a danish mycologist who named the species Panaeolus semilanceatus in 1936, but it later became a synonym for the species.

Chemist Albert Hofmann, lab technician Hans Tschetter, and mycologist Roger Heim reported the presence of Psilocybin in P. semilanceata in 1963.

In 1963, chemist Albert Hofmann and mycologist Roger Heim were in a lab in Basel, Switzerland examining the fungus Psilocybe semilanceata. They broke open some of the mushrooms and discovered they contained psilocybin mushrooms. It was the first time anyone found psilocybin in a living organism.


Is it safe to eat Liberty Caps (Psilocybe Semilanceata)?

Liberty Caps are not dangerous when consumed in small amounts and do not cause serious side effects. However, they may cause mild symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if consumed in large quantities.

Why are they called liberty caps?

The liberty cap comes from the Phrygian cap, a symbol of freedom worn by formerly enslaved people in ancient Rome. According to some sources, the mushroom’s shape resembles the Phrygian cap.

What is the most hallucinogenic species in the world?

The Liberty Cap, or Psilocybe semilanceata, is the most hallucinogenic mushroom in the world. It contains psilocybin and psilocin, which cause psychedelic effects when consumed.

What causes mycelium bruising?

Mycelium bruising occurs when there is too much moisture on the surface of your substrate that has not been able to evaporate yet due to poor airflow or lack of fanning.

Is Psilocybe Semilanceata poisonous?

This mushroom is not poisonous, but it is not recommended to eat. It contains psilocybin, which can cause hallucinations in large quantities.

Why does a mushroom turn blue?

A mushroom turns blue when it is bruised, cut or damaged. This happens because of the way in which the fungus reacts to injury. When a mushroom is injured, it releases enzymes that cause the cap and stem to turn blue and bruise purple. The same reaction occurs when a mushroom is cut or bruised. The color change is caused by an enzyme called coprine. This enzyme is found in all species of fungi but is not harmful to humans in small doses.

What does Psilocybe do to your brain?

Psilocybe mushrooms contain the psychoactive compounds psilocin and psilocybin, structurally similar to LSD and mescaline, both popular recreational drugs that have been shown to alter one’s perception of reality and produce visual hallucinations. These effects are because psilocin or psilocybin acts on serotonin receptors in your brain.

Where does Psilocybe Semilanceata grow?

Psilocybe semilanceata usually grows on cow dung and grasslands, meadows, lawns, and fields. They prefer to grow on acidic soil with high nitrogen levels (such as cow pats). It makes them ideal for growing indoors, where you can control these conditions quickly.

Are there any negative side effects from ingesting Liberty Caps?

Liberty caps have been reported to have few side effects. The most common side effect is nausea, which can be avoided by eating them in moderation and taking food with them. If you have never taken psilocybin before, start with only a small amount until you know how your body will react to it. Some people experience headaches or dizziness after psilocybin mushroom ingestion.

How potent are Psilocybe Semilanceata?

Liberty caps are one of the most potent psilocybin-containing mushrooms. The average psilocybin content is 1.5% by dry weight but can be as high as 3% in some cases. It makes them among the strongest of all psychedelic mushrooms.


This website does not promote or endorse the cultivation or use of psilocybin mushrooms. Psilocybin can be illegal and pose health risks. Always check your local laws and consult a medical professional before considering psilocybin use. Content is designed for adults aged 18 and over.

  • Not Healthcare Advice: Consult healthcare professionals for any medical concerns. We do not offer medical advice.
  • Legal Awareness: Users are responsible for knowing and adhering to the laws regarding magic mushrooms in their jurisdiction. We do not endorse illegal activities.
  • Risk Awareness: Psychedelic fungi carries potential risks. Information on our site is based on research and user experiences but should not replace professional advice.
  • Accuracy and External Links: We strive for accuracy but cannot guarantee it. External links are not under our control, and we are not responsible for their content.

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