- “Blue legs” or “blue ringers”
- Obvious bluing reaction to handling or age
- Pacific Coast of North America
- Resembles toxic Galerina marginata
Psilocybe stuntzii is a rare mushroom originally found on the campus of the University of Washington in the USA. The nicknames “blue legs” and “blue ringers” arise from the significant bluing reaction this species undergoes in response to handling or age. Dark blue, green or violet splotches are common on older caps.
This species is only found on the Western coast of North America, south to Santa Cruz, California. It prefers a woody substrate, growing on decaying debris as well as fresh mulch and wood chips. P. stuntzii is also able to tolerate grassy areas, appearing on fresh sod or on very well-manicured lawns. Wherever it is found, this species rarely grows alone and is habitually found in small “bouquets” or tight groups.
The bluing reaction that gives this species its nicknames is due to the oxidation of its active compounds. It contains moderate to high levels of psilocybin, along with low quantities of psilocin and trace baeocystin. This tends to provide an overall moderate, but potentially long-lasting, psychoactive experience. The flavour and scent of this species is generic to Psilocybe, lightly floury or “farinaceous”.
P. stuntzii should be collected with care, as it shares its range with a toxic mushroom that features similar characteristics. Galerina marginata looks nearly identical in appearance, however P. stuntzii will be sticky to the touch when moist due to its removable, gelatinous pellicle. The two are commonly encountered on decaying wood and have been included in a group of fungi being investigated for their capacity to decompose harmful or contaminated waste through composting.
Rare outside of its natural range, spores of P. stuntzii can be purchased online, though difficulty of cultivation is not well known. Further, as most Psilocybe mushrooms have an appreciable bluing reaction, “blue legs” or “blue ringers” in their dried form are difficult to distinguish from other psychoactive species. Found in the wild and properly identified, P. stuntzii is a moderately potent and mildly flavoured mushroom, a good species as an introduction to the genus.