Active Mushrooms That Grow in Northern California

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Mushrooms commonly grow in the wild.
Mushrooms commonly grow in the wild. (Image: MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA image by janaHB from Fotolia.com)

Active mushrooms, also known as psychoactive or psilocybin mushrooms, are a group of mushrooms that are known to contain the active compounds psilocybin and psilocin. These compounds are nontoxic and produce hallucinogenic effects when digested. Northern California produces a variety of active mushrooms that thrive in the rich soil of this area's wooded coastal region.

Panaeolus Cinctulus

This is the most common active mushroom found in Northern California. It is plentiful year-round in this area, thrives in damp weather and can often be spotted in dung heaps, haystacks, compost heaps, riding stables and fertilized lawns. It has a reddish-brown appearance when damp but transitions to taupe as it dries. The cap is smooth and fairly flat with a slight undulation in the center. The stipe, or stem, is also smooth and has a uniform thickness.

Psilocybe Cyanescens

When the temperature drops in autumn, this active mushroom can be found in the wooded areas of Northern California, particularly near wood chips and mulch. This mushroom is light brown when damp and slightly more yellowish when dried. The cap, which is perched atop a whitish stipe, has a distinctive wavy appearance.

Psilocybe Cyanofibrillosa

This active mushroom grows along river floodplains that flow into the Pacific Ocean from Northern California to British Columbia and can typically be found from September to December. It has a light brown color that fades to a brownish-yellow when dried. The psilocybe cyanofibrillosa also features a convex cap with a somewhat broad top section and a moderately thick stipe that matches the cap in color.

Psilocybe Stuntzii

Psilocybe stuntzii grows gregariously from August to December on bark fragments, grass and manure in the Pacific Northwest, and on a rare occasion, this mushroom was spotted as far south as Santa Cruz, California. The cap is broad and smooth with an orange-brown appearance, and the stipe has a uniform thickness and is of a similar color.

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