The Origins of the McKennaii Mushroom

Our story begins, of course, with Terence McKenna himself. A psychedelic icon; there is no doubt that the face of psychedelic culture in the West would look mightily different today if it had not been for this gentle pioneer. With his brother Dennis, McKenna took exploratory trips to the Amazon, experimenting with, collecting, and recording many different magic mushroom species that we know today. The brothers McKenna even published the canonical Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide in 1976 (under the pseudonyms O.T. Oss and O.N. Oeric), still in constant use today. 

McKenna became not just an icon of psychedelia, but also of philosophical thought. He sought to unravel the mysteries of existence and consciousness, and to open people’s minds by harnessing the powers of psychedelics of all kinds. Despite his untimely death in 2000 at the age of 53, McKenna’s presence is still deeply felt, especially as the psychedelic revolution he dreamed of continues apace. 

How Did The McKennaii Get Its Name?

So, the reasons why McKenna would have a mushroom named after him are clear. However, the actual origins of this strain are actually rather unclear — shrouded in mystery one might say. The most romantic version of the story is that the mushroom was developed from a spore print found amongst McKenna’s collection after his death in 2000. The other story is that the strain was developed by a cultivator in the Netherlands, and named in honor of McKenna. 

What is a Mushroom Strain?

If anyone is reading this and thinking, “that’s all very well but what actually is a strain, please?” then you are probably not alone. It can get a little confusing. Firstly, the strain is different from the ‘species’. Species are the distinct genetic lineages of an organism. They cannot generally interbreed, however, there are a few hybrid exceptions. In the animal kingdom, these include the mule — the spawn of a horse and a donkey — and the liger — the result of a lion and tiger’s union. 

However, when it comes to psychedelic mushrooms, there are not currently any (known) hybrids. Psilocybe cubensis is a favorite species of psychedelic mushroom cultivators; they are relatively easy to grow, and full of trippy goodness. In the Latin naming system, the first word (e.g. Psilocybe) is the genus. This is followed by the species (e.g. cubensis).

via Creative Commons

Once we move beyond species, we get to strains. Generally, strains should all originate from the same species (most commonly Psilocybe cubensis) and should be able to interbreed. An example of this is the winner of the April 2021 Oakland Hyphae Psilocybin Cup — the Tidal Wave strain — which was a result of the interbreeding between the B+ and Penis Envy strains. 

The deliberate interbreeding of magic mushroom strains by experienced growers can result in mutations such as sporeless or albino versions of Psilocybe cubensis. However, just breeding one crazy hybrid doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve created a new strain. A true strain should be reproducible everytime it is attempted, persisting in the same characteristics. This is why, as a rule, strains can only be properly maintained through cloning. The McKennaii is one such strain. 

How to Grow the McKennaii Mushroom

The McKennaii mushroom does not grow in the wild, however, it is known to be relatively easy to grow from a spore. Due to the fact it has been bred artificially for such a long time, it tends to be easier to cultivate than other cubensis strains. It is, of course, even easier to grow from a pre-inoculated grow kit such as this

A thriving magic mushroom grow kit (via Wholecelium)

The experience of growing your own magic mushrooms is a spiritual one — and that’s before you even take them! The complete cycle from growth, to consumption, to trip is deeply satisfying to the soul, and this is especially true of the McKennaii mushroom, which has a strong spiritual component to its trip. 

What Does the McKennaii Look Like?

McKennaii mushrooms look quite similar to the other popular cubensis strain, the Golden Teacher. The classic mushroom shape, golden brown cap, with thick, sturdy beige stems. They can grow to a satisfyingly large size, and their spores are a dark, almost purplish color. 

McKennaii spores (via Creative Commons)

What is a McKennaii Mushroom Trip Like?

A McKennaii mushroom trip has relatively similar effects to other Psilocybe cubensis strains, such as good mood and groovy visuals. However, the McKennaii is noted to be more potent, and likely to produce deeper philosophical experience than your average cubensis. 

The ‘official’ tested potency of the McKennaii is not certain, but testing agencies estimate it to have 1-1.5% total tryptamines, meaning that it is intermediate to high in terms of strength. There are legends however of its impressive potency, including the (unsubstantiated) rumor that McKenna himself stated that it was the strongest psilocybin mushroom species available. 

Regardless, as with all strains one tries for the first time, it’s recommended that you start with a lower dose; to see how you feel, and if this particular shroom agrees with you. Then you can the increase or reduce your dose to find the sweet spot for your next trip. A McKennaii trip is characterized by euphoria and wonder, sliding into a feeling of connection and one-ness with the universe. Terence would surely be proud that this mushroom inherited his name.  

Image created by DeepDreamGenerator

The McKennaii Mushroom: The Takeaway

  • The McKennaii magic mushroom is a strain derived from the Psilocybe cubensis species.
  • It is named after the famed psychonaut and philosopher Terence McKenna
  • It is an intermediate strain to grow from a spore, but is still beginner friendly. This is because it colonizes substrates relatively easily, fruits well, and generates high yields
  • It can also be easily grown from a pre-inoculated magic mushroom grow kit. 
  • McKennaii mushrooms grow to a medium/large size and have a golden-to-dark-brown cap, and sturdy stems
  • The McKennaii is a higher than average in terms of potency and tends to produce a euphoric, visual, and spiritual trip.