Psilocybe tampanensis is a very rare psychedelic mushroom in the family Hymenogastraceae. Originally collected in the wild in a sandy meadow near Tampa, Florida, in 1977, the fungus would not be found in Florida again until 44 years later. The original Florida specimen was cloned, and descendants remain in wide circulation. The fruit bodies (mushrooms) produced by the fungus are yellowish-brown in color with convex to conic caps up to 2.4 cm (0.9 in) in diameter atop a thin stem up to 6 cm (2.4 in) long. Psilocybe tampanensis forms psychoactive truffle-like sclerotia that are known and sold under the nickname “philosopher’s stones”. The fruit bodies and sclerotia are consumed by some for recreational or entheogenic purposes. In nature, sclerotia are produced by the fungus as a rare form of protection from wildfires and other natural disasters.
Psilocybe tampanensis contains the psychedelic compounds psilocin and psilocybin, and is consumed for recreational and entheogenic purposes. The species was found to be one of the most popular psychoactive mushrooms confiscated by German authorities in a 2000 report, behind Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe semilanceata, and Panaeolus cyanescens. The alkaloid content in the confiscated samples ranged from not detectable to 0.19% psilocybin, and 0.01 to 0.03% psilocin. According to mycologist Michael Beug, dried fruit bodies can contain up to 1% psilocybin and psilocin; in terms of psychoactive potency, Stamets considers the mushroom “moderately to highly active”.
The psychoactive compounds are also present in the sclerotia: in one analysis, the levels of psilocybin obtained from sclerotia ranged from 0.31% to 0.68% by dry weight and were dependent upon the composition of the growth medium. Sclerotia are sold under the nickname “philosopher’s stones”. They have been described as “resembling congealed muesli“, and having a somewhat bitter taste similar to walnut. Strains existing as commercial cultivation kits sold originally in countercultural drug magazines are derived from the original fruit body found by Pollock in Florida. Methods were originally developed by Pollock and later extended by Stamets in the 1980s to cultivate the sclerotia on a substrate of ryegrass (Lolium), and on straw. Sclerotia prepared in this way take from 3 to 12 weeks to develop. Pollock was granted a US patent in 1981 for his method of producing sclerotia.
The legal status of psilocybin mushrooms
Psilocin and psilocybin are scheduled drugs in many countries, and mushrooms containing them are prohibited by extension. In the United States, Federal law was passed in 1971 that put the psychoactive components into the most restricted schedule I category. For about three decades following this, several European countries remained relatively tolerant of mushroom use and possession. In the 2000s (decade), in response to increases in prevalence and availability, all European countries banned possession or sale of psychedelic mushrooms; the Netherlands was the last country to enact such laws in 2008 However, they did not include psilocybin-containing sclerotia in 2008 law, and thus, psilocybin-containing fungal compounds are available commercially in the Netherlands. In parallel legal developments in Asia, P. tampanensis was one of 13 psychoactive mushrooms specifically prohibited by law in Japan in 2002