Psilocybin Cultivation

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 Cultivation 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.


F. C. Gould’s cultivation book covers quite a bit of ground. Gould makes the interesting observation that black market forces result in the more powerful LSD being much more popular than psilocin.

(p. 1) “Psilocybin mushrooms are a first-rate native psychodelic [sic]. They can be obtained in the U.S. after rain in the temperate season.”

(p. 3) “The spore is the seed of the mushroom. It travels by wind and, if it lands on a habitable medium it will germinate. Because fungi are non-photosynthetic, lacking chlorophyll, they always feed on live or dead organic matter. Manure is thus a prime medium. Given favorable conditions, the spore will sprout and many small silk-like hairs, called hyphae, grow and collectively form what is called the mycellium (spawn).

‘The mycellium radiates outward, permeating the material in which it is growing. Warm dry weather promotes the growth of the mycellium, which takes three or more months to mature. The site must be well-drained, as too much water will cause the mycellum to rot. The mycellium is the psilocybin producing portion which also produces the fruit--the visible "mushroom.”

(p. 4) “Mushrooms are divided into four categories depending on what material they need to support their growth.

  • coprophilous (dung-inhabiting)
  • humicolous (humus-inhabiting)
  • lignicolous (wood-inhabiting)
  • fungicolous (fungus-inhabiting)

(p. 33) “…by itself psilocybin has no effect on the nervous system of human beings. Shortly after ingestion, psilocybin is hydrolyzed [sic] to psilocin which is the psychedelic agent.

‘….psilocin is a substantially simpler compound than psilocybin. The reason that so little psilocin is found in nature is that it is relatively unstable when compared to psilocybin.”

“Because psilocin is a much simpler compound, there is little reason for a chemist to manufacture psilocybin, and in practice they rarely do. Psilocin is not very stable and has a very short "shelf life"; however, psilocybin is only a little better. This is one reason that one will almost never see real psilocin or psilocybin on the "street." Another reason is that even the best processes for synthesis give very low percentage yields, especially when compared to other processes such as D-LSD-25 synthesis.”

“…someone can make a more stable LSD compound of several thousand doses, or a relatively unstable psilocin compound of only two hundred or so doses for the same amount of risk. In fact, the LSD is cheaper to synthesize than the psilocin. This is why you see no psilocin on “the streets.”

‘Chemically, psilocin is a tryptamine, like DMT, and DET. In fact, it is a DMT molecule that has merely had four hydroxy units added on. Perhaps the most surprising thing to a chemist is the fact that psilocybin and psilocin are the only tryptamines that are active orally.”

“Tryptophan happens to be the only indole that is directly an amino acid. It is also head of one of the most powerful hallucinogen famliies known. It's derivatives include DMT, DET, MET, Bufotenine, Psilocybin, Psilocin, Serotonin, and Tryptamine to name a few. Given a good chemist and a good laboratory, there is no limit to the number of new and different hallucinogens that could be derived from this basic building block.”