Growing Wild Mushrooms

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. Growing Wild Mushrooms 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.


Bob Harris’s “Complete Guide to Cultivating Edible and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms” seems to be very step-by-step, and comes with good color pictures.

p. 1

"Fungi are plants and are unique in their specialization. They belong to a segment of life we call the decomposers. They lack chlorophyll, and thus cannot use direct sunlight for their energy as most plants do. Instead, they possess special enzymes and chemicals that decompose the life around them containing stored energy, usually in the form of sugars and starches. Generally, fungi will be found living on wood, leaf mulcy, or on soil in which the presence of dung provides a source of these sugars and starches."

p. 2

"…the well known Amanita muscaria grows in association with the roots of pine or birch trees because it is mycorrhizal."

p. 7

"Plants, unlike animals, are unable to change their environment. Therefore they have developed a wide variety of chemicals in order to protect themselves and to allow for the continued survival and reproduction of their species. Man has found a great many uses for some of these chemicals. For instance, the yeasts that, under certain conditions, produce alcohol are the basis for a very large industry. Yeasts also produce vitamin B and are thus valuable nutritionally.

’On the other hand, some of these chemicals which are produced by the fungi have no known reason for their existence. Some of the poisons found in the Amanita varieties have no known relationship to the protection of the organism or regulation of its environment.


"A very helpful method of identifying fungi is to make a spore print. To do this, set the mushroom cap on a piece of paper and cover it with a bowl overnight. Upon lifting the cap, you will see that the spores have been discharged on to the paper leaving the distinguishing spore print (see fig. 3). Each family has a different color and arrangement of spores."

p. 68

"Most of the psilocybin-containing mushrooms are in genera which have purple-brown or black spore prints. If you get a mushroom with a rusty brown or white spore print, it may well be something poisonous. Once you have determined that its spore print is purple-brown (for Psilocybe) or black (for Panaeolus), you then must match descriptions with those available. I would like to add that almost all of the Psilocybes (and some of the Panaeoli) I have seen exhibit the well-known bluing reaction discussed in almost all the information on these mushrooms. To reiterate, when the base of the stem or, in many cases, the cap is bruised, it turns blue in from five to twenty minutes (see plate 8). A word of caution is necessary here. There are other mushrooms which will turn blue, so this bluing reaction must be found on a mushroom with the right color spore print or it is meaningless."