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Some dated excerpts on P. semilanceata and A. muscaria. From alt.drugs, 1994.
From: RikM@sv.span.com (Rik Marshall)
I've decided to go shroom picking this year and recently posted a request for information to a.d, this has met with a lot of response (from the UK), it seems people are a bit vague on what it looks like, and where to find them.
I've been looking through books and condensed all the relevant info into this file (also a couple of gifs).
The two species I have concentrated on are Psilocybe Semilanceata (Liberty Caps) and Amanita Muscaria (Fly Agaric). I have been looking for the first (I'm not too bothered about the second, after reading a few posts about it in a.d, it sounds a little too heavy, pos. dangerous), the literature seems to have the concensus that it is harmless (except for the hallucinogenic properties :) ).
I hope this helps ....
< Sorry for any typos >
From The mushroom identifier by David Pegler & Brian Spooner
Some species affect the central nervous system causing hallucinations and sometimes leading to coma. In the case of muscimol poisoning, also caused by the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) and by others such as The Panther (A. pantherina), the symptoms consist mainly of drowsiness but can be more serious. Some of the Psiocybe species, on the other hand, cause visual hallucinations within 20 minutes of ingestion. Such mushrooms are sometimes deliberately ingested for recreational purposesalthough the legality of such actions varies between countries.
From The Encyclopedia of Mushrooms by Colin Dickinson & John Luca
Mushroom Poisoning - The nerve poisons.
Apart from the cell poisons, the most dangerous species are those which contain substances that affect the nervous system. Strictly speaking the hallucinogenic species also affect the nervous system, but the disturbances in this case are usually restricted to sensory distortion. Mushrooms containing nerve poisons can cause more serious symptoms such as convulsions, irregular breathing and, in severe cases, death through heart failure. Two types of toxin have been implicated in this type of poisoning - muscarine and ibotenic acid.
The principal toxins in Amanita muscaria have now been identified as ibotenic acid, and the closely related compound, muscimol. The Panther Cap (A. pantherina) causes similar symptoms, also attributed to these poisons but while this latter species is rightly regarded as dangerous, the status of Fly Agaric as a deadly mushroom has been questioned. It has traditionally been used as a ritual halluginogen in certain cultures and attitudes to this mushroom would appear to be more to do with cultural background than with any scientific assessment of it's toxicity.
Psilocybe semilanceata - Liberty Caps.This small fungus was given the name Liberty Caps because the shape of its cap is like that adopted as the symbol of the first French Republic. It contains the hallucinatory drug psilocybin, and may have been tried by those seeking new drug experiences. In a recent English court case it was judged not to be an offence to possess the fruiting bodies of this species.
From The Illustrated Book of Mushrooms and Fungi by Dr Mirko Svrcek
Poisonous fungi and the symptoms of poisoning.Psychotropic poisoning involves serious cases characterized by the irritation of brain tissue. For a long time the intoxication caused by the Fly Agaric was the only form of mushroom poisoning accompanied by psychic disturbances. It was not before the 1950s that other so-called cult fungi, formally used in religious ceremonies and rites, were identified; their ingestion leads to different manifestations of psychic disturbance. Two types of psychotropic poisoning are distinguished: psychotonic poisoning caused by the so-called mycoatropine, and psychodysleptic poisoning caused by psilocybine.
In Europe, poisoning by mycoatropine is caused by three Amanita species. Most common are cases of poisoning after eating the Panther Cap, less frequent are those caused by the Fly Agaric, and practically unknown is poisoning by A. regalis. The poisonous content principles of these amanitas have not yet been exactly identified, and this is why the designation 'mycoatrophine poisoning', though inadequate, is still used nowadays.
The course of poisoning caused by all the three species is substantially the same: nausea is experienced between half an hour and three hours after consumption, accompanied by vomiting, headache, quickened heartbeat, and a persistent dilation of pupils occasionally leading to vision disturbances. Often the condition of the affected person resembles alchoholic intoxication: the patient becomes talkative, shouts obscenities, sometimes laughs or weeps, strikes himself and keeps on running to and fro. The states of excitement may be dangerous for the sick person and must therefore be mitigated. Subsequently the patient faints, recovers from time to time, hallucinates, screams, defends himself against invisable danger, etc, but finally falls into a profound sleep from which he usually awakens into a normal state, without remembering his previous behaviour. This poisoning comes to it's fortunate end on the second or third day. First aid consists in the stimulation of vomiting and in taking the patient to hospital; he must be given neither milk nor alchohol. The treatment starts with a stomach rinse, the excitement is controlled by remidies of the cholpromazine type, physostigmne (never atropine!) is administered as an antidote against mycoatropine.
Psilocybine poisoning occurs after consuming some species of the genus Psilocybe, or fungi belonging to related genera about which, nowadays, abundant literature is available. These fungi are distributed mostly in Mexico and in some Central American countries. They contain so-called hallucinogenic substances thanks to which they had long been used in religious rituals and were kept secret until the twentieth century. Their research is due to the efforts of the American ethnographers Mr and Mrs Wasson who succeeded in aquiring hallucunogenous fungi, which they studied and identified with the help of mycologists. Chemical analysis of these fungi were carried out, and it was even possible to cultivate some of them. The effecttive substance was finally produced artificially, whereby its experimental testing on volunteers and its application for therapeutic purposes was made possible.
Fungi containing hallucinogenic substances generally produce small, inconspicuous fruit bodies growing on dung or excrements. They belong to the genera Psilocybe, Panaeolus, Panaelina and Stropharia. The amount of effective substances in the fruit bodies is variable, particularly in the European representatives of the mentioned genera whose effect is substantially smaller in comparison with the Mexican species.
The psychic symptoms following the ingestion of halluginogenic fungi are extremely varied. In some individuals they manifest themselves as euphoria, in others as sight disorders and hallucinations; saometimes they assume the form of the kaleidoscopic effect involving the duplication of objects in inappropriate colours; still other persons, on the contrary, feel anxiety and fear, suffer from terrifying delusions, and these states may lead to delirium and suicide attempts. Thanks to the lower content of effective substances, the European fungi evoke much milder symptoms.
Hallucinogenic fungi contain four active substances; psilocybine, psilocine, baeocystine, and norbaeocystine. Psilocine is considered the main bearer of halluginogenic proprties. However, poisoning by these fungi is exceptional, and there is no danger of misusing European hallucinogenic fungi for intentional intoxication.
Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Cap)
The genus Psilocybe, as well as the related genera Panaeolus and Stropharia, have become better known - and especially more popular - following the discovery of hallucinogenic substances obtained from numerous Mexican species of Psilocybe. Further analyses have also shown that some European species of the genus Psilocybe also contain substances with hallucinogenic effects, even though in substantially smaller quantities so that the symptoms following their ingestion are much milder.
Psilocybe semilanceata is a very small fungus which easily escapes attention. Its cap is 1-2 cm high, always higher than it is wide, markedly and persistently lanceolate-pointed or narrowly conical, often with an abruptly projecting point, thin-fleshed, hygrophanous, shiny or sticky, dark olive grey-brown or yellow-brown when moist, in dry conditions leathery yellow, smooth, glabrous, with greenish spots. The stipe is very long, only 2-3mm thick, firm and tough, tortuous, pallid or brownish, with a silky sheen, often blue-green at the base, attached to the substrate by a bluish green mycelium. The gills are broadly adnate, olive grey or brownish with a lilac tinge, then red-brown to black-brown, with white ciliate edges. The gill edges harbour numerous cheilocystidia. The flesh has no specifiec odour nor taste. The spore print is dark brown.
P. semilanceata grows in grass tufts on pasturelands and forest tracks from August to October. It is not particularly abundant and appears more commonly in upland regions. It is inedible because of the halluginogenic substances it contains.
Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)
The symptoms of swallowing include vomiting, headache, accelerated heartbeat, dilation of pupils; often a state similar to alcoholic intoxication and hallucinations set in, and finally the poisoned person awakes in the morning in a normal condition, without remembering his or her previous behaviour.
Amanita regalis, growing in upland spruce stands, is distinguished by a yellowish-brown cap, a yellowish stipe and similarly coloured remnants of the outer veil on the cap, and by a ring. It seems to be as poisonous as the Fly agaric.