So, we know that it looks like a penis.  And, we know that as a Psilocybe type mushroom it is hallucinogenic. In fact, many in-the-know say it’s one of the best cubensis around…But what else do we know about this cult-favourite magic mushroom?  

Mysterious Origins

Well its history is patchy, at best. The mycologist John Allen proposes that the fore-bearers of the Penis Envy were found by brothers Terence and Dennis McKenna. This would have been in the early 1970s during an expedition to the Amazon. The story goes that they were searching for a mysterious shaman in the rainforest, when they came across the (relatively) towering phallic mushroom growing out of some Zebu cattle dung. Impressed, and probably amused, by its form, they made a point of collecting some of its spores to bring home to the USA. 

Dennis and Terence McKenna (via Wikipedia Commons)

A Phallic Obsession

The next scrap of a rumour we have to go on is this: famed mycologist Steven Pollock receives a spore sample labelled ‘Amazonian’ by one Terence McKenna. Without much thought, he sprinkles them into a jar of manure (as a mycologist I guess you just have them lying around…) and sets them aside to grow.  Now Pollock was incredibly well versed in fungi of all kinds (he had even been the first to identify the Psilocybe tampanesis), but even he was flabbergasted by the looming shroom that grew from his jar. Now, let’s be honest — all mushrooms look a bit penis-like — but this one, Pollock could see, with a bit of help from his gene-isolating mycology skills, could be totally NSFW. This became his obsession. Slaving over the mushroom, only picking the biggest and most phallic he could harvest from each crop, he eventually achieved his goal.

He sliced off the cap, rather like a pseudo circumcision. Then he took a spore print, which he posted to the state of Washington. Very soon after this Pollack was murdered in extremely suspicious circumstances. In the years since, this tragedy has only enhanced the mystery and hearsay that surrounds the Penis Envy mushroom.

Mushroom spore print (Via Wikimedia Commons)

A Sighting Of The Elusive Shroom

Not long after Pollock’s death mycologist Richard Gee, received the so-cherished spore print in the mail. It was simply labelled ‘Penis’. Gee, another character we know very little about, apparently kept his new acquisition sequestered in secrecy, ‘perfecting’ it further by making it even more penis-y ( 🙄 ). For years, as nothing more was said of the Penis Envy strain. Those who had heard the rumours assumed that it had died with Pollock. However, in a book self-published by Gee, some extremely recognisable phallic fungi can be seen on the front cover itself, growing in a tank. Although the book mentions precisely nothing about the Penis strain, this inadvertent (or was it?) pictorial evidence helps us trace this mushroom’s murky timeline. 

The Secret Was Out

Eventually, just over twenty years after Pollock’s untimely demise, mycologists began to receive spores and samples from Gee of his now-perfected baby. Very quickly the Penis Envy secret was out.

Confusingly, the surviving McKenna brother, Dennis, denies any responsibility for the shroom. But the legends persist…

Due it’s lab-grown origins it is doubtful that a Penis Envy mushroom could be found in the wild, let alone that it could survive. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t need to identify it one day… So let’s check out the stats of this young mutant. 

Vital Stats: How To Spot This Shroom!

To identify a Psilocybe cubensis ‘Penis Envy’, check out the following:

Cap: Dome-shaped. Unlike normal P. cubensis the cap doesn’t tend to open, having been bred to keep the most penis-like shape possible. Colour varies from light golden to cinnamon brown. 

Gills: Like a normal cubensis in theory, however the malformed mini-cap and engorged stem mean they tend to grow tightly packed. The gills darken in colour when/if it produces spores. 

Spores: Due to it being a mutation, most Penis Envy shrooms are (ironically) sterile, meaning they do not produce spores. You can collect spores, if you are lucky, by rubbing a q-tip or similar on the gills inside the cap. 

Stem: (or stipe) Very thick compared to a normal cubensis. Fleshy and white to cream in colour. Some have been said to grow up to 12 inches. 

Taste and Smell: The taste and smell of the Penis Envy is the same as Psilocybe cubensis — described as farinaceous which means ‘containing starch’. Apparently similar to freshly ground flour. 

Can I eat it? : It is edible, but hallucinogenic. Penis Envy mushrooms are thought to be up to 50% more potent than normal Psilocybe cubensis. So proceed with up to 50% more caution. 

Find it: You won’t find it in the wild. This shroom can only really be bought or gifted. 

When: If your PF Tek conditions are perfect, all year round.  

Family:  Hymenogastraceae

Genus: Psilocybe

Species: cubensis

Strain: Penis Envy!