In fungus world, it seems that all fungi that mate and fruit are hybrids. It is said that if the mushroom that fruits from this fusion produces spores, and therefore can reproduce, it is considered a new strain of mushroom. In Nature, by mixing genes, the new fungus can handpick the strongest traits from each parent species, in this way creating a super-fungus. This phenomenon in biology is called introgressive hybridization or introgression and allows natural selection to create the most adaptive specie. This is, in some way, what mycologists reproduce in vitro except they decide which trait to keep, psilocybin being amongst the favourite ones.
Therefore, a hybrid is a term we’ll use to describe a mushroom that is the in vitro result of the cross breeding of different species to create a new one.
Steven Pollock, a long-time believer in the therapeutical powers of psychedelic mushrooms and the first to document Psilocybe tampanensis, through a timely and refined genetic isolation process, came to create the specie we know of today as the famous and extremely potent Penis Envy or PE.
The story of this dense phallic shaped mutant psilocybian cubensis is said to originate in the 70s from the healthy grounds of the Amazonian rainforest where legendary entheogenic botanist/mycologist Terence McKenna came across a gargantuan patch of beasty looking mushrooms (some suspect it was the specimen that later gave birth to the popular P. Amazonian strain aka PESA).
Back in his Colorado home state he started cultivating mushroom species with the spore prints he had collected and sent samples to colleagues from around the world, including Dr. Steven Pollock (note that unlike mushrooms, spore prints are legal to travel with). The rumor has it Pollock is the one to have developed the PE strain we know of today. Though that magic mushroom presents a laborious and slow growth, it is nonetheless reputed to be the one of the most cultivated and appreciated of the cubensis hybrids.
One can only suspect that the artistry behind Pollock’s long and intricate process to refine the specie. If in biology, they refer to introgressive hybridization and say it can act to transfer adaptive traits between species and thereby be a mechanism that speeds up adaptive evolution, with PE, the looks definitely out shun the function. In a way when humans try to control hybridization, they pro-create and clone, narrowing singular strengths in the genetics and boosting them to their maxima.
Since McKenna and Pollock’s original isolations, Penis Envy has conceived other popular sub-strains such as Albino Penis Envy, Uncut Penis Envy, Albinos Penis Envy Revert, Texas Penis Envy, Trans Envy, and Penis Envy #6.
It is undeniable that through the agile hands of avid mycologist-engineers, the world of mushrooms is giving way to a new generation of odd-looking sub-strain hybrids aka super-strains.