"Witch’s Hat", "Liberty Bell", "Panaeolus Semilanceatus"

Psilocybe semilanceata also known as “Liberty Cap” is said to be one of the most potently psychoactive magic mushroom strains found growing naturally in Europe and in the Pacific Northwest. It once revealed an exceptionally high psilocybin level of 2.37%, and is amongst the species that also has relatively high levels of baeocystin, another neurotropic alkaloid. Its epithet “semilanceata” means “half spear” and refers to the shape of its cap which resembles the Phrygian-hat. For that same reason it is also commonly called Liberty Cap, Witche’s Hat or Liberty Bell. Formerly known as Agaricus semilanceatus and Panaeolus semilanceatus, it has a particularly well-established natural distribution in Germany.

Even though Liberty Cap is still unreported from Mexico and Central America, it is a very close relative of Psilocybe mexicana Heim, so much that the latter is often called Mexican Liberty Caps. Psilocybe authority Stamets says P. semilanceata it is to temperate grassland what Psilocybe Mexicana is to subtropical grassland.
With its petite stature and conical bell-shaped cap which remain this shape throughout its life, the magic mushroom strain Liberty Cap aka P. semilanceata is supposably an easy specie to identify even for amateurs. It can nonetheless be easily confused with dangerously poisonous Galerina, so hunters beware!

Like P. mexicana, Liberty Cap – P. semilanceata forms a sclerotia, a dormant form of the fungus in which is retained nutrients and often, psilocin and psilocybin. The sclerotia, also commonly called ‘Philosopher’s Stones’ or ‘Truffles’, can also be consumed for its entheogenic properties.
Though it is said to be a slow and arduous indoor growth, it is one of the most widely naturally distributed magic mushroom strain, that offers not only its fruits but also its dormant compacted roots, the delightful “magic truffles”. Other species that produce magic truffles are Psilocybe tampanensis, Psilocybe mexicana, P. mammillata, and Conocybe cyanopus.


Visual Description

• Cap: .5-2.5 cm broad. Shape varies from sharply conical to bell-shaped, often with a pronounced nipple shaped structure that doesn’t considerably change throughout maturity. Extremely hydrophanous (changes color depending on hydration), color varies, usually dark chestnut brown when moist, soon drying to a light tan or yellow, sometimes with a greenish hue. Surface is viscid when moist. Because it is low in psilocin, it rarely bruises blue. Often, a thin membrane that can be peeled away from the cap • Gills: narrow, crowded, attachment adnexed to almost free from stipe. Coloration is initially pale brown and changes to dark grey to purple-brown when matures and lighter on the edge. • Stem: 45-140 mm long, .75-3 mm thick. Slender, flexuous, and pliant. Color is yellowish brown, may become bluish when dried. Surface is smooth. • Spore print: deep purplish brown • Microscopic features: 12-14 x 7-8 micrometres. • Taste and odor: farinaceous.


HIGH > 0.75% - 2% EXTREMELY HIGH > 2% Gartz (1993) reported an average of 1% psilocybin, with a range of 0.2 to a maxima of 2.37%, the highest psilocybin ever reported at the time. It is also high in baeocystin (.36%). It is said that its high levels of psilocybin and low levels of psilocin might be accountable for its long storage life.

Habitat Origin

Generally agreed it is native to grassland areas of Europe with a particularly well-established distribution in Germany. Found in South Africa, Chile, northern India, Australia and Tasmania. Fruits scattered to gregarious, in the fall to early winter in the pacific Northwest, from Northern California to British Columbia and even Quebec; rarer but reported in the spring in coastal areas of Oregon and Washington. Reported in New Foundland and Novia Scotia and in the high-altitude grasslands of the South Island of New Zealand. Interesting observation is that it is known to be present from the temperate Boreal and Austral meadows, such as Canada, the US, Chile, Europe, and New Zealand, but is unknown in Mexico and Central America. Prefers rich acidic soil (pastures, lawns, meadows, fields and other grassy areas), especially rich grasslands manured by sheep and cow, though it does not typically grow on dung. Also found on sedges (grass-like flowering plants) in moist areas. It is a saprobic fungus, meaning it grows by breaking down organic matter and it seems to have a particularly symbiotic relationship to the rhizomes of grass.


In 1960, P. semilanceata became the first European specie to have confirmed presence of psilocybin, publication of the results represented an extraordinary achievement for scientists. Previously, the alkaloid had only been found in Psilocybe species native to Mexico, Asia and North America, never Europe. Literature relates that in 1799, a British family picking mushrooms along the shores of the Thames river unknowingly picked some Psilocybe semilanceata and made a meal they never forgot. Back then, it was described as the first mushroom “intoxication“ with delirium.