It’s mushroom season in the northern hemisphere. And that means that the green and pleasant fields and forests of the UK are littered with fungi – some of it of the psychedelic variety.
But where exactly should you be looking for magic mushrooms? Where do they grow? And how can you identify them?
This useful guide will tell you all you need to know to find wild magic mushrooms in the UK. Happy foraging!
Where to look for magic mushrooms in the UK
You shouldn’t have to go far to find some magic mushrooms in the UK. Local parks, common recreational areas, race tracks, woodland and country paths are all potential growing spots.
The most common type of magic mushroom to grow wild in the UK are Liberty Caps (psilocybe semilanceata). These small, brown shrooms are quite easy to recognise thanks to the small nipple-looking lump on the top of the cap.
They generally appear alone or in small clusters on rich soil in pastures, meadows and parkland. They don’t grow on cow or sheep dung, but are common in areas where livestock may roam.
In fact, they are often found in London’s Hyde Park, Primrose Hill and Richmond Park.
Wavy caps (psilocybe cyanescens) are also quite common in the UK and can appear in massive quantities, like when 100,000 of the wavy guys were found growing alongside a English racetrack. The mushroom can usually be found on mulch or wood chips from October to February.
Libs and wavy caps are the two species of magic mushroom you’re most likely to find in the UK, but there are others.
If you need some tips for local spots where magic mushrooms have been seen before, the website MagicMushroomMap.com can be very helpful.
When to look for magic mushrooms in the UK
One of the many brilliant things about mushrooms is the resilience that is afforded to them by their underground network of mycelium. This subterranean body (which truffles are part of) allows mushrooms to remain mostly dormant before shooting out of the ground in mere hours.
Therefore, timing is very important when searching for magic mushrooms.
Autumn is the best time for magic mushroom hunting in the UK. This is because most fungi love the wet, mild conditions in our countryside.
The months of September to November are most productive for foraging.
You’ll maximise your luck by going out the day after a night of light rain. You may even want to check the same locations more than once as mushrooms can spring up overnight.
Dry weather and cold are not conducive to hunting mushrooms. If it’s uncharacteristically hot or there’s frost on the ground, don’t bother.
UK laws on magic mushrooms
Any fungus that contains psilocin or psilocybin is controlled in the UK. Therefore, magic mushrooms are prohibited to be cultivated, possessed or sold under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Magic mushrooms are classed as Class A drugs in the UK, meaning the most severe punishment for possession is up to seven years in prison and an unlimited fine. However, this harsh a sentence is extremely unlikely.
In fact, if you were caught with a small amount for personal use – say up to 5 grams – you’d probably get away with a caution.
It’s a different story if you get caught growing them, though. Technically, a life sentence is the maximum sentence for supply of any Class A drug, including magic mushrooms. In practice, however, longer sentences are only used for major traffickers, and rarely, if ever, for cases involving only mushrooms.
Psilocybin and mental health
It’s also proving to be very helpful in treating end-of-life anxiety by helping terminal patients come to terms with their impending death.
Being one of the safest drugs, psilocybin is casting off its reputation as a wonky drug for hippies and drop outs and is now being recognised as a powerful medicine that will play an important role in the future of mankind’s mental wellbeing.