Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide is one of my sources.

The parts I generally took notes from were either about the drugs themselves or the prohibition of drugs. You’ll find the information garnered from these books throughout the Prohibition Politics section of this site. It will also have informed some of my own postings stored in the older Prohibition Politics archive.

If you find this information useful, you will want to search out the books themselves to read the text in context. All of the books here are at least moderately interesting.


O. T. Oss & O. N. Oeric have written an easy-to-follow book on growing psilocybin mushrooms. Some of the description is a bit rich, however, though that befits a guide to growing shrooms.

p. 7

Hofmann extracted his psilocybin from mushrooms whose ritual use in the mountains of Oaxaca was discovered in 1953, summer, by Gordon and Valentina Wasson.

Includes good color pictures.

p. 51-54

"The dried mushrooms contain from .2 to .4 percent of psilocybin (Schultes, et al., 1973) by weight. Some strains of Stropharia cubensis have been reported to contain as much as .5% psilocybin (Wasson & Heim, 1959, p. 260). Psilocin is present only in trace amounts. A dose of about 10-12 milligrams of psilocybin, or about 5 g. dry weight of mushrooms, or 50 g. wet weight, is sufficient to manifest the full spectrum of hallucinogenic effects in a 160 lb. adult…. Less marked effects can be detected at doses as low as 4 mg., which is about 2-3 dried mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms seem to be somewhat stronger than dried ones. Psilocybin is one of the least toxic of all hallucinogens. While a full effective dose is 10 mg., its LD50 (lethal dose for 50% of the sample) in the mouse is 280 mg./kg. of body weight. (Schultes & Hofmann, 1973). Mescaline, by comparison, has a minimum effective dose of 200 mg. for an average-size adult, and a toxicity of 2.5 times that of psilocybin (Aboul-Enein, 1974).

p. 55

"Psilocybin is light shedding illumination on a landscape both within and without the mind and body of man and previously invisible. The exploration of this vast region by persons whose mental equipage is that of the modern West has only begun. Only a moment has passed since our culture has rediscovered, through the work of Wasson and others, the ancient and unplumbed relationship between the vision-causing mushrooms and our own strangely gifted species. You are a pioneer in a world whose future is undetermined and whose living organisms are full of singularities and surreal transforming promise." [Cool. So why can’t I stop giggling?]

p. 57

A Chronology

300-500 B.C."Mushroom stones" in highland Guatemala date back at least this far.
c. 300 A.D.Frescoes in central Mexico have mushroom designs, indicating a mushroom cult.
1502 A.D.Spanish conquistadores observe psilocybin mushrooms being served at the coronation feast of Moctezume.
1547-1569Fray Bernadino de Sahugun, a Spanish cleric, wrote Historia de las Cosas de Nueva Espania (also known as the Florentine Codex) which refers to "nanacatl" (=teonanacatl=flesh of the gods=psilocybian mushroom). Sahugan states that the mushrooms "are harmful and intoxicate like wine." Further, those who indulge "see visions, feel a faintness of heart and are provoked to lust."
c. 1965-66Laws against the sale, manufacture, and possession of LSD, mescaline and psilocybin are passed by paranoid legislatures after being persuaded by a hysterical press. The New York State legislature deferred hearings on one bill to outlaw hallucinogens until after the law was voted on and passed!