Substances | 5 min read

Where Do Magic Mushrooms Grow? Facts About Psilocybe Mushrooms

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On February 12, 2024

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On February 12, 2024

Where Do Magic Mushrooms Grow

What you will learn

  • Magic mushrooms (psilocybe) grow worldwide but thrive in damp and chill environments.
  • Since 1970, worldwide authorities have attempted to discourage psilocybe harvesting and use.
  • The three most common Psilocybe varietals in the United States are P. cyanescens, P. allenii, and P. ovoideocystidiata.
  • Underground, a mushroom's mycelium consists of a vast network of threads, but unlike roots, they do not bore into the roots of trees. Instead, they form symbiotic relationships with tree roots or decompose organic matter.
Reading Time: 5 minutes

More than 2000 varieties of mushrooms exist in nature, but only 25 or so are commercially cultivated. Psilocybe mushrooms, commonly known as magic mushrooms, are not among the varieties that are commercially cultivated due to their psychoactive properties and legal status.

Due to federal prohibitions on the possession, sale, and transfer of magic mushrooms, they are not grown at a commercial scale and instead are grown in small amounts at home or foraged from the wild.

They grow most dependably in the damp, chill Pacific Northwest of the United States. While they can be found in the “wild,” they are most often found on excess carbon deposits like wood chips near urban-proximate spaces.

What are Psilocybe Mushrooms?

Psilocybe mushrooms contain the active ingredient of psilocybin, a compound with psychedelic qualities if ingested.

The three most common Psilocybe varietals in the United States are P. cyanescens, P. allenii, and P. ovoideocystidiata.[1] They are relatively small, averaging only 2-3 inches in height.

They are often chestnut brown and turn a deep purplish-blue when crushed. This is due to the purple spores inside the fruiting body.

It’s thought that Psilocybe mushrooms either originated in the Pacific Northwest or in Australia and spread around the world. Humans are the most obvious culprit for their dispersion, but a theory worth exploring is that they colonized the global wood chip supply.[2]

Psilocin, the metabolite of psilocybin, has an affinity for serotonin receptors.[3] This improves a user’s sense of overall well-being, much like currently prescribed SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors). Psilocybin and magic mushrooms are not usually associated with fatal overdoses, but they are not without risk. There is the potential for poisoning (especially if the wrong type of mushroom is taken) and psychological distress.

While trials are still underway, there is a future potential for treating major depressive disorder, eating disorders, stress disorders, and substance use disorders.[4]

History of Psilocybin

Pre-Columbian Age

Psilocybe mushrooms were historically used by the Pre-Columbian Aztecs of South America for religious ceremonies and healing rituals.[5]

They called them “teonanacatl,” meaning “god’s flesh.” The use of psilocybin as a psychedelic was meant, among other things, to heighten the transcendent experience of communal experiences.

Spanish missionaries of the 1500s thought it caused a sort of demonic possession in users and tried to destroy all records and traces of this mushroom being used by natives.[6]

Modern Age

In 1970, the Nixon administration labeled psilocybin and other drugs like marijuana as “Schedule I” drugs, which meant there was a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical uses. At least, according to them.

Against the backdrop of the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s, this move (and the classification of heroin as Schedule I) was politically motivated as a smear campaign against the respective anti-war left and black population, as recounted by Nixon’s former White House Domestic Affairs Advisor John Ehrlichman.[7]

Since the 1970s, psilocybe has been largely unstudied. This changed in 2018 when the FDA released a guidance document designating psilocybin as a potential “breakthrough therapy” for treating psychiatric disorders.[8]

Psilocybin’s Legal Complexities

Oregon and Washington DC decriminalized psilocybin in 2020, and Colorado followed suit in 2021. Some municipalities in California, Washington state, Michigan, and Massachusetts have also decriminalized it.[9]

But, just because you live in an area that has decriminalized it doesn’t mean you couldn’t get in legal trouble for having it. For instance, you may live in Colorado, where psilocybin is decriminalized, but if you run afoul of federal authorities and it’s found in your possession, they could prosecute you for possession because it is still on the federal books.

Or, for instance, if you live in Oakland, California, which has decriminalized psilocybin but travel to Sacramento, California, and you may run afoul of local authorities. You could be prosecuted under mandatory sentencing guidelines because it’s still on the state books.

How Does a Mushroom Grow?

How Does a Mushroom Grow

All mushrooms, including psilocybes, are fungi. Fungi help break down organic matter in nature. They prefer fallen trees or anything with excess carbon. Fungi can also include yeasts, mildew, and mold, but the focus of this article is mushrooms.

Underneath the fruiting body of the mushroom is the mycelium. These gather the necessary materials to make the fruiting body. The fruiting body exists mainly to disperse spores. Spores get launched into the air and carried by the wind to a new colonizing location.

Underground, a mushroom’s mycelium consists of a vast network of threads that are similar to roots, which can form symbiotic relationships with plant roots. They can bore into the roots of trees below ground.

Mushrooms can exchange nutrients necessary for survival with the plant. Whereas parasites steal nutrients from a host, mushrooms exchange nutrients with the host. Hence, a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship.

Where Do Magic Mushrooms Grow?

Magic mushrooms are found all around the world. While they’ve been found on every continent (except Antarctica), they prefer to grow in temperate to tropical rainforests where the humidity is spread out evenly over the course of the growing season.

Compared with savannahs, where the humidity can be concentrated in one or two “rainy” months and then absent for the rest of the year, Psilocybe mushrooms prefer a steady supply of water and nutrients.

The United States

While Psilocybe mushrooms have been found all over the US, from the Northeast to the South to the West Coast, they are concentrated in Northern California, Oregon, and Washington.

While they are relatively rare in the wild, they can be found in forest humus soils, near streams, and coastal dune grasses.[10] Psilocybe mushrooms are much more plentiful near urban-proximate spaces. They prefer excess carbon in the form of mulch beds and wood chips.

The best time to find them is during autumn, after they have had the entire summer to soak up nutrients, as they attempt to disperse their spores before winter.


While only 2.7% of Australia’s total land area is rainforest, Psilocybe mushrooms have been found in Queensland and the island state of Tasmania.

They are generally found near the coast in areas of high humidity. There are rock paintings from 10,000 years ago, which some experts believe are evidence of psilocybin use by aboriginal Australians.[11]

DNA sequences of a currently unknown fungus were discovered in the Northern Territories. It almost certainly produces psilocybin, yet is unknown to science.[12]

Are Magic Mushrooms Addictive?

The likelihood of developing psychological dependence on magic mushrooms is considered relatively low compared to other substances, though it is still possible. If magic mushrooms are dosed to alleviate something like brain fog, the user could associate magic mushrooms with mental clarity and form a psychological dependence. Addictions can be associated with any substance, including magic mushrooms.

Treatment For Addiction To Magic Mushrooms

What may have begun as recreational use or an attempt to experimentally self-medicate addiction could result in negative consequences. If you or a loved one have developed a dependence on magic mushrooms, treatment is available. From detox and inpatient programs to intensive outpatient programs and aftercare services, holistic interventions can restore the balance in your body and your life. There are licensed addiction professionals who are ready to help craft a personalized treatment plan to get you back on the trajectory to recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions about Magic Mushrooms

Are Magic Mushrooms Safe?

At appropriate dosing levels, it certainly seems like magic mushrooms are safe, but more research is needed to be done to determine this with certainty.

One recent study found an “acceptable level of risk” for healthy adults dosing psilocybin in a carefully monitored research environment.[13]

Magic mushrooms have been consumed by humans for thousands of years, but dosing at higher-than-appropriate levels could have unintended consequences.

While a pleasant, non-threatening experience is correlated with lower-level doses, higher doses are correlated with generalized anxiety and panic attacks.[14]

Are Magic Mushrooms Bad for You?

Psilocybe mushrooms are not bad unless they are consumed in excessive quantities or if a dependence has formed on them.

Since they mainly affect serotonin receptors (mood state) rather than dopamine receptors (pleasure state), there is a low potential for physical addiction.

Depending on where you live, ask your doctor if psilocybe treatment is right for you.

When are Magic Mushrooms in Season?

Psilocybe mushrooms grow from the late spring through late autumn months but are easiest to harvest from September through October.

Depending on where you live, peak psilocybe season may be slightly different. The more dry and warm your climate, the shorter the harvest window. The more cool and damp your climate, the longer the harvest window.

Can You Take Magic Mushrooms for Anxiety?

One of the exciting possibilities for further research into psilocybin is for treating psychiatric disorders like anxiety.

Currently, there are no approved medical uses for Psilocybin, and it remains a Schedule I drug pending further research. If you live in a state like Oregon, which has licensed psilocybin service centers, you can get put on a waitlist to receive services.

If you don’t have a clinical diagnosis for anxiety, self-diagnosing is not recommended. You should consult with your doctor about any health concerns before taking psilocybin.

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Here at Ascendant New York, we understand the importance of having access to accurate medical information you can trust, especially when you or a loved one is suffering from addiction. Find out more on our policy.


[1][2][10] Merino, D. (2022, April 27). A psychedelic surprise may be thriving in your local garden. Science.

[3] López-Giménez, J. F., & González-Maeso, J. (2018). Hallucinogens and serotonin 5-HT2a receptor-mediated signaling pathways. Current topics in behavioral neurosciences.

[4][8] JE;, H. D. S. S. (n.d.). Psychedelics: Threshold of a therapeutic revolution. Neuropharmacology.

[5][6] DE;, N. (n.d.). Psilocybin: From ancient magic to modern medicine. The Journal of antibiotics. 

[7] Baum, D., Sullivan, J. J., Arian, A. A., & Lee Friedlander, J. C. (2016, March 31). Legalize it all, by Dan Baum. Harper’s Magazine.

[9] Makin, S. (2022, August 1). Restrictions on psilocybin “magic mushrooms” are easing as research ramps up. Scientific American.

[11]Magic Mushrooms as medicine. Magic mushrooms as medicine – Alcohol and Drug Foundation. (n.d.). 

[12] Brann, M. (2022, April 2). Is the Northern Territory hiding a new species of “magic” mushroom? ABC News.

[13][14] FX;, S. E. M. F. (n.d.). Acute, subacute and long-term subjective effects of psilocybin in healthy humans: A pooled analysis of experimental studies. Journal of psychopharmacology (Oxford, England).