Eric's Guide To Cultivating Psilocybe Azurescens/Cyanescens

An MMGG-type document with instructions for growing psilocybe azurescens and/or cyanescens.This guide is here mainly for historical reasons. Many have tried it, but I didn´t hear of one person that succeeded using that guide.

Version 1.1a

Psilocybe cubensis are the most commonly cultivated "magic" mushroom. They're very easy to grow, tolerant of faults, and the spores are readily available. However, many people express frustration that there aren't instructions out there for growing other kinds of magic mushrooms. They point out that cubensis mushrooms are not nearly as potent as some mushrooms out there, and they taste terrible. They notice that due to the chemical composition of psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, the character of cubensis trips is often different (and inferior) to the experience you get with other kinds of mushrooms. So here's a guide written to help those folks out. It contains instructions for cultivating Psilocybe azurescens and Psilocybe Cyanescens mushrooms, two of the most potent mushrooms which are often favored by "veteran" trippers who've tried several different kinds. I hope you find this guide helpful, and PLEASE e-mail me with any questions, suggestions, or comments regarding this document. Thanks!

Does this document look familiar? It should. I took several of the sections straight from the Magic Mushroom Growers Guide. I am not trying to take credit for anyone else's hard work. The reason I did this is that the MMGG already eloquently and concisely explains several procedures common to both cubensis and azurescens/Cyanescens cultivation. Writing new explanations for these procedures would be a waste of time, plus paraphrasing something which is already well-written gives me flashbacks of writing reports from the encyclopedia in grade school. So please understand that some of this writing is mine, but much of it I am only borrowing. And of course if the author of the MMGG has any problems with this, please e-mail me and we'll work it out immediately.

I would like to thank, in no particular order:

EricFor the idea.
MagicFor bringing the potentially dangerous Lysol/open flame combination to my attention.
The MMGG AuthorFor saving me oodles of time.

This document may be freely copied and distributed so long as the following conditions are met:

  • Any copies of this document must include this notice.
  • This document must only be distributed in an unaltered and complete form.
  • This document can not be distributed for profit.
In order to grow mushrooms, a suitable substrate must be inoculated and colonized by the fungus. This step requires sterility because the substrate contains no preservatives and can be overrun by any mold or bacteria that is present. This first step takes place in canning jars prepared in your home's kitchen. It uses hardwood sawdust and rice or wheat bran which are both readily available. A substrate is prepared, placed in the canning jars and sterilized with heat. After the jars cool, they are inoculated with a spore syringe. This phase of the cycle can be completed for less than $40.

After the substrate is inoculated, you wait until it is colonized completely by the fungus. Once the substrate is colonized completely by the fungus, you grind it into small pieces in a food processor and use these pieces to start mycelium growth on a pieces of wet corrugated cardboard. While waiting for this colonization to occur, no effort is required.

After the cardboard is colonized completely it is covered with maple or alder woodchips and the mycelium are allowed to colonize these as well. Once the wood chips are fully colonized, the temperature is dropped to induce fruiting.Materials needed:

  • 1/2 pint canning jars
  • Hardwood Sawdust
  • Organic Rice or Wheat Bran (from a health food store - No Preservatives!)
  • Vermiculite
  • Large pot with lid or pressure cooker
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing bowl
  • Hammer and small nail
  • Deep plastic tray such as one you'd find in a photography store for developing prints
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Maple or Alder Woodchips
  • Lysol
  • Spore Syringe (Where to get a spore syringe)

The canning jars need to be tapered. This means that the opening of the jar is wider than the body of the jar. This is important because the fully colonized rice cake needs to be removed intact from the jar. You simply want the cake to slide out when the time is right. If you use a jar that is not in the following list, check to make sure the box says it is a tapered jar. The following jars are acceptable:

  • Ball 1/2 pint jelly jars.
  • Kerr wide mouth 1/2 pint canning jars.
  • Ball regular mouth 1/2 pint canning jars.

Step 1:
Prepare the tops of the culture jars so that they can be in place, on the jars when inoculating the jars with the spore syringe. Part of the reason this system works so well in the non-sterile kitchen environment is the fact that the sterilized substrate is never exposed to air born contaminates. Get a small nail and use the hammer to poke 4 holes in the lid of each canning jar. See the following figure:

Picture of Culture Jar

Step 2:
Decide in how many jars you are going to initiate cultures. Unlike with psilocybe cubensis cultivation, the number of jars you prepare does not dictate how many mushrooms you end up with; only how long it takes to get them. Never the less, the procedure is cheap and easy enough that you might as well prepare as many jars as you have (up to 12) just in case you need extras due to contamination or other unforeseen circumstances.

For each 1/2 pint jar you will need 3/4 cups hardwood sawdust. Put the sawdust in a large mixing bowl and fill the bowl with water. Let it sit for 24 hours so the sawdust absorbs as much water as it can. Then drain out the water and mix in the bran; 1/4 cup for each jar. Mix all of this stuff up well. You'll know you've got it right if you squeeze a handful of the substrate and you get a few drops of water between your fingers. This mixture is the substrate which you will use to grow mycelium.

Step 3:
The next step is to fill each jar with substrate material. Fill each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top with substrate material. Do not pack the material; simply allow it to fall into the jars. If you run out of substrate material, either mix up enough for one more 1/2 pint jar or cannibalize a jar to fill up the rest of the jars. This is important because you need to make sure the substrate is high enough in the jars for the spore syringe to inject spores into it.

Step 4:
The top 1/2 inch of the glass on each culture jar needs to be cleaned. No substrate material can be left on the glass above the compressed cake. First wipe it with your finger to get the bulk of the material off of it and then do a thorough job with a moistened paper towel. The glass needs to be spotless. The reason this is necessary is that bacteria and mold can use any material left there as a wick to infect the main substrate body.

Step 5:
Next, fill the top 1/2 inch of the each culture jar with vermiculite. This layer is pure, simple, dry vermiculite. Nothing else. Fill the jar level with the glass edge. What this layer does is insulate the sterilized substrate from any air borne contamination. This layer gets sterilized with the substrate later and air borne molds and bacteria can not (usually) get through it to contaminate the substrate. At the same time, it allows some gas exchange to occur. The fungus needs oxygen and gasses can filter through the vermiculite.

Step 6:
Now, place the jar lids in place. Normally, the jar lids have a rubber seal that is placed in contact with the glass of the jar. Do not place the rubber seal in contact with the glass; instead place it on the upper side of the lid. The allows more gas exchange to occur. Screw the lid down tight. Note that you need to have the four holes poked in the lid in Step 1. Otherwise you can have real problems when you heat these jars up!

Step 7:
Next, place a piece of tin foil over the top of each jar and crumple it around the sides of the jar. This is to keep water drops from going in the four holes in the lid while the jar is being sterilized. If you poked your holes in the lid such that the sharp edges are pointing up, be careful not to rip or puncture the tin foil. If you need to, you can add a second or even a third piece of tin foil to make sure water will not drip into the holes in the lid.

Step 8:
Now the culture jars need to be sterilized. You can do this either in a large kitchen pot filled with water or in a pressure cooker. If you're planning on using a pressure cooker, put the jars in for 1 1/2 hours at 15psi. If you're using a kitchen pot, follow these instructions:

Place the jars in a large kitchen pot and add water so that water comes half way up the side of the jars. Bring the water to a slow boil and place the lid on the pot. From the time the water starts to boil, the jars need 3 hours to be sterilized. Water should not be bubbling and splashing all over the place. The jars should not be floating around in the water. The substrate in the culture jars has the right amount of water in it already. You do not want water leaking into the jars and changing the ratio. The jars should not sit flat on the bottom of the pan. Too much heat can transfer directly to the jars and cause a loss of moisture. You can place a wash cloth inside the pan and set the jars directly on the wash cloth to help prevent too much heat from transferring to the jars.

Step 9:
Let the jars cool slowly. Leave them covered in the pan that was used to sterilize them. Let them cool completely. The jars need to be at or close to room temperature in order to inoculate. The spores will be killed if the jars are not cool enough when they are inoculated. It will take several hours to cool sufficiently; it's best to leave them overnight. You may hear sounds as the jars cool. This is normal.

Step 10:
Now comes the good part. Inoculation of the culture jars. Assuming you have a viable, sterile spore syringe, you are now in a position to inoculate the cultures and start the first phase of the growing cycle. The needle of the spore syringe must be sterile. If your fingers or anything other than the lid or contents of the culture jars comes in contact with it, assume it is no longer sterile. If there is any doubt about its condition, use a cigarette lighter to heat the entire needle. Heat it until it glows red. Let it cool for a few minutes and squirt some of the solution out of the syringe.

Shake the syringe. Make sure the spores are mixed well within the syringe. This can be accomplished more easily if you pull the plunger back on the syringe to get a little air into the syringe.

Remove the tin foil from each culture jar as you prepare to inoculate it. Insert the needle of the syringe as far as it will go into a hole in the lid of the culture jar and get the needle to press against the glass. Examine the next figure for a simple diagram of how things should look. The amount of solution you'll want to inject depends on the number of jars you have to inoculate. If you have 5 jars then you'll want to use 1/2 cc solution for each hole (1/2 cc x 4 holes x 5 jars = 10 cc), etc.


Step 11:
This is the easy part. Put the culture jars in a dark place and wait. The fungus will first appear as little splotches of white fuzzy stuff at the inoculation sites.

Picture of Culture Jar 5 days after inoculation Picture of Culture Jar 10 days after inoculation Picture of Culture Jar 20 days after inoculation

As the time goes by, the fungus will spread throughout the jar. Eventually, the entire surface of the glass will be covered with fungus. Typically, the bottom of the jar is the last area to be colonized. Be on the look out for any contamination.

Any odd colors that might appear are contamination and the jar must be thrown out. Do not take any chances. If you think the jar might be contaminated, throw it out!. Some molds and bacteria produce toxins that can kill you. Just because a mushroom is growing on the opposite side of the cake from the contamination does not mean you are safe. The mycelium network carries nutrients and moisture to the mushrooms from far away and can easily pick up the toxins and bring them to the mushroom. The fact that you are using this guide means you are not an experienced mycologist. You do not know which molds and bacteria are deadly. Do not take a chance.

The one exception to the previous statements is the mycelium will some times change from a bright white to a very pale yellow if it has water droplets touching it on the side of the glass. It is very unusual for any area that is colonized by the mushroom fungus to become infected while in the jar. The uncolonized areas of the substrate are usually significantly more prone to infection.

The above pictures show a typical germination and colonization cycle. If your spores are old, or the temperature is not optimum, or you did not mix the substrate very accurately you can easily add a week to the above time frames.

The cake must stay in the jar until at least 2 weeks after the entire surface area is covered with mycelium. This is because you want to make sure the mycelium have penetrated fairly deeply into the substrate. As the substrate gets more colonized, the growth slows down. This is a result of CO2 building up and less oxygen being available for the fungus to consume.

Step 12:
2 weeks after your substrate cake(s) are fully colonized, you must start to prepare the spawning bed. This consists of a piece of wet corrugated cardboard which will be fully colonized by the fungus. You will need a fairly deep plastic tray, such as the ones you find at a photography store for developing prints. Cut the cardboard so that there is about 1" of space on each side when you put it in the tray. Place the cardboard in the tray and fill the tray with water. You need to let this sit overnight so that the cardboard will absorb as much water as it can.

Step 13:
After the cardboard is sufficiently soaked, you can remove the cakes from the canning jars. Unscrew and remove the lid from the canning jars. Scrape all the loose vermiculite on the top of the substrate into the garbage. Turn the jar up side down and bang it onto a table top. The substrate cake should slide out of the jar. The cakes will typically shrink a little during the colonization phase of the process and will come out of the jars easily with a little tapping on a table top.

Step 14:
Now you have to chop the substrate cakes up into small pieces about the size of marbles. You can do this by hand with a knife but it's easier to do it with a food processor. Either way you decide to do it, try to keep contamination to a minimum. Flame-sterilize the knife or the blade of the food processor, and use a work space relatively free of drafts. Spray Lysol liberally. Remember, Lysol is flammable! Keep it away from open flames.

Step 15:
After you've got the substrate cake chopped up into small chunks, take the cardboard out of the tray and dump out any excess water. Spread the chunks evenly over the bottom of the tray, and place the cardboard on top. Cover the tray loosely with plastic wrap so that most of the moisture stays in but gas exchange can occur.

Over the next week or so you'll notice the mycelium colonizing the cardboard. Once the cardboard is completely covered with white fluffy mycelium, go on to the next step.

Step 16:
After the cardboard is completely colonized, lay maple or alder wood-chips down over the cardboard to a depth of about 2 inches. Soon you will notice the mycelium colonizing the wood chips as well. Once they appear to be completely colonized by the mycelium, it is time to induce fruiting.Psilocybe azurescens and Cyanescens require a temperature of about 50º F to fruit, so if you want mushrooms you'll have to drop the temperature somehow. The best way to do this is to plan your growth cycle so that you'll be ready with a colonized spawn bed when the temperature outside is at roughly 50º for at least 12 hours a day. If you can't do that, then you'll have to use a refrigerator.

Since 50º is significantly higher than the temperature used to preserve food, the best thing would be to have a dedicated fridge which you could set to 50º without worrying about your food spoiling. Since this is usually not the case, you'll probably have to improvise.

The temperature of a refrigerator is usually around 36 - 38º F. You'll want to turn the thermostat up slightly to around 40º - 42º F. This will strike a good balance between food refrigeration (you probably won't even notice a difference in your food's longevity) and mushroom habitat (the shrooms will still fruit well at 42º, although slightly slower). At any rate, if you are keeping your mushrooms in total darkness or in a habitat colder than their optimum temperature, be sure to take them out for a few hours every day or two to let them warm up a little and get some light.

Soon you will notice small dark bumps forming at places on the substrate. These will grow larger over the period of several days. Soon you will be able to recognize them as mushrooms. Wait for them to grow fairly large, then grasp their base and pull. Congratulations! You've grown Psilocybe azurescens or Cyanescens mushrooms!This section is ordered for some one just starting off in the home cultivating experience. Once you have grown a crop, this section is ordered backwards for your needs. The intent is to get you started easily. In order to grow subsequent generations of fungus you need to generate a spore print and use this to create a spore syringe. This information is at the tail end of this section.

In order to use the process detailed in this document, you need a sterile, viable spore syringe. The spores should be Psilocybe azurescens or Psilocybe Cyanescens spores. There are several ways to get started. The easiest way to get started is to order a spore syringe but alternatively, you could obtain a spore print and use that to prepare a spore syringe.

Once you have grown some mushrooms, it is worth while to learn how to generate your own spore prints so that you can produce spore syringes when ever you need one. Currently, you don't have to do this if you choose not to because the spores are still readily available from mail order suppliers. Many people believe the day is coming when this will not be true. Many of the sources of psilocybe spores have quit selling to the public and others have destroyed their cultures because of mandates given by the DEA. If you have a sterile, viable spore print, you can eliminate your dependence on these suppliers.

Sources for a Spore Syringe

Psilocybe azurescens:

You can get a Psilocybe azurescens spore syringe from Smart Botanics for $24 + $4.95 shipping and handling. Send or fax your order, along with payment in cash or your Visa, Discover or Mastercard number, to:

Smart Botanics
P.O. Box 158
2800 AD Gouda
The Netherlands

Fax: +31-182-546984

Include a note with your address, what you're ordering (Item # M0181, 1 azurescens Syringe) and the signed statement "I am at least 18 years old and I agree with the sales-conditions".

Sources for Spore Prints

In the event you wish to start with a spore print instead of a spore syringe, this section provides a few places you can obtain suitable spore prints. In general, the first time grower really ought to start with a spore syringe because it eliminates many of the sterility issues. The one benefit to starting with a spore print is you can make close to fifty 10 cc. spore syringes from a single spore print. However, this is really a moot point. Once you have grown a crop of mushrooms, you can generate as many spore prints as you want. One spore syringe is guaranteed to produce a crop if you follow the directions in this guide.

The real reason this section is included is that I have yet to locate a place to purchase P. Cyanescens spore syringes, but I know of two places which sell prints. So if you plan to grow P. Cyanescens you're going to have to buy a print and then make a syringe from it. If anyone knows of a source for pre-made Cyanescens syringes, please let me know.

Psilocybe azurescens:

The Growroom has Psilocybe azurescens spore prints available for $35 each. To order, send them a note with the Print Code (PSAZ01), the number of prints you're ordering, and your address as well as payment in cash or check. Their address is:

P.O. Box 20001
Indianapolis, IN 46220

P. Cyanescens:

Pacific Exotic Spora has cyanescens prints available; Hawaiin Copelandia cyanescens spores are $45, and Hawaiian Panaeolus cyanescens spores are $55. Their address is:

Pacific Exotic Spora
P.O. Box 11611
Honolulu, HI 96828

Teonanactl has Astoria Ossip Cyanescens prints available; the price is $5 for a small one, $10 for a large one, and $20 for a very large one and a small one. Their address is:

Postamt 1092 Wien
A 1092 Vienna

How to Make a Spore Syringe

Sterility is key. If your spore print is contaminated or you introduce contamination into the spore syringe, you will have difficulty later in the process. Ideally, there should be no fans blowing or drafts of air. You should clean the area where you will be working carefully and make sure that everything is tidy.

Materials needed:

  • spore print
  • 10 cc. syringe with long needle
  • shot glass
  • regular glass
  • coffee mug
  • cigarette lighter
  • X-Acto knife or sharp steak knife
  • microwave oven

Several things need to be accomplished. First, we need to sterilize a shot glass to easily mix the spore solution and we need to sterilize a syringe to hold the solution. We also need some sterile water in which to suspend the spores. The following procedure will accomplish all of this.

Fill a coffee mug with water and place a shot glass inside the coffee mug. Make sure the shot glass is completely submerged. Place the coffee mug in the microwave oven and get the water to a full boil for 10 minutes. It does not need to be a violent boil. Adjust the heat level of the microwave oven to keep too much water from being lost if necessary.

Remove the shot glass and empty the excess water out of the shot glass. Place another glass over the shot glass. This will keep air born contaminates from settling in the shot glass while you wait for the shot glass and water in the spore syringe to cool.

Fill the syringe with hot water from the mug. Eject the hot water and repeat several times. This will insure the inside of the syringe and the needle are clean and sterile. This is especially important if you are using a syringe from a previous crop. When the needle is inserted into the substrate, it is possible to get nutrients up inside the needle and for contamination to grow. The last time you fill the syringe with hot water, do not purge it. Let it sit in the syringe until it is cool. This is useful for two reasons. First, the continued heat from the water can still work to eliminate any remaining contaminates. Secondly, once the water is cool it can be used as the sterile water needed to fill the syringe. Make certain that nothing touches the needle of the syringe.

The Psilocybe mushroom spores will be killed if they come in contact with anything too hot. You need to wait until the shot glass and spore syringe are at room temperature. When it is safe to proceed, use the cigarette lighter to flame sterilize the X-Acto knife and the needle of the syringe. Let the blade of the knife cool, but make sure it does not touch anything. When it is cool, carefully open the spore print and scrape a fleck of spores into the shot glass. A fleck 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch is more than sufficient for a 10 cc. spore syringe. Use the needle of the syringe to stir the spores into a few drops of water. Usually, there will be a few drops left over in the shot glass from when you emptied it. Otherwise, you can get the drops from the syringe. Stir the fleck of spores until they are well broken up and 'dissolved' into the water. Purge the water out of the syringe into the shot glass. Pull the water back into the syringe, being sure to suck the spores in also. Do this once or twice more to make sure the spores are well mixed in the spore syringe. Often, it takes several tries to get the spores fully broken apart and well mixed.

If the spores in the print have been dried and are not fresh, it is best to wait six hours to use the spore syringe. The spores need to rehydrate. If your in a hurry, the spores can still rehydrate in the culture jars.

How to Make a Spore Print

Once you have a mature mushroom, you are in a position to make a spore print and use it to continue cultivation of mushrooms. The cap should be harvested when the mushroom cap has become flat or is starting to invert.

Sterility is key.

Be careful not to do anything that will compromise the sterility of your spore print. The typical procedure is to cut the stalk off of a mature mushroom very close to the cap. A sterilized knife or razor blade is used to do this. The cap is then laid on a sterile piece of tissue paper or card stock and a small glass set over it. The glass is needed for two reasons. First, it keeps the spore print insulated from airborne contaminates. Secondly, it helps keep the humidity high so the mushroom cap can continue to live and drop its spores. One note of caution. Some humidity usually needs to be allowed to escape. You want the environment inside the glass to be slightly less humid than the environment in which the mushroom was grown. If you have problems getting a cap to drop its spores, try using a piece of paper for the print that fits entirely inside the glass and spreading out a wash cloth flat on the table. Let the edge of the glass seal to the wash cloth instead of the paper. This will usually allow enough humidity to escape to cause the cap to drop spores.

If everything goes well, after a day or two the cap will drop its spores. There will be a dark dust underneath the cap. These are the spores.
Eye glass lens paper is good source of sterile tissue paper. A box of waxy tissue paper that deli's use to pick up donuts and rolls is another excellent source of sterile tissue paper. Card stock (such as a recipe card) is a bit easier to use later when you want to prepare a spore syringe, but you have to expend the extra effort up front to sterilize it. To use card stock, place in a 425 degree F. oven for 15 minutes. Let it cool with a glass over it before you place the cap on it.

Once you have a spore print on the paper, remove the glass and cap. Fold the spore print in half and seal the edges so air can not get in. A piece of scotch tape on each side will do nicely. The spores will stay viable for 18 months if they are kept in a cool, dry and dark spot. If you place a small amount of desiccant in the bottom of a film container and place a cotton ball on top of the desiccant, you have an ideal container to keep the spore print. The cotton ball will keep the desiccant from touching the spore print. Seal the spore print in the canister and place the canister in your refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Note that if you want to be self sufficient, it is a good idea to have multiple spore prints and store them separately. You just never know when you are going to be surprised with a massive contamination problem or thermal death. The safest thing to do is have a couple viable spore prints so it is easier to recover from disaster. A spore print is typically viable for about a year if it is stored in a cool, dark location. As a print ages, germination gets slower and this process becomes more prone to contamination.

Combination of Spore Print and Preparation of Inoculant

This excellent idea is from:

If it is your intent to use a mushroom to immediately generate inoculant for a successive crop, you can eliminate some of the above steps and reduce the risk of contamination.

Poke a small nail hole in the cap of a wide mouth jar. Cover the nail hole with a piece of electrical tape. A 1/2 pint canning jar similar to that used for the cultures is fine. Sterilize both the jar and the lid.

Place the harvested cap in the sterilized, wide mouth jar. Seal the top with the lid and wait until a spore print has been generated on the bottom of the glass. Open the jar and remove the mushroom cap. Add 3/4 cup of sterilized water. Seal the top of the jar with the lid and shake the jar. The spores need to be mixed well into the water. This procedure elements the need to transfer spores from a print to some container to make the solution. The spore print is generated inside the container and the only extra step is adding water. It also has the benefit of making a large amount of solution that is easy to use.

Now, any time you need inoculant, you can shake the jar and peel the tape back to expose the nail hole in the lid. Simply insert the needle of the syringe into the inoculant and pull some into the syringe. The syringe needs to be sterile or you risk contaminating the entire jar of solution. The solution will keep longer if you refrigerate it. You still should keep some spore prints on paper because it is possible to contaminate the entire jar of inoculant if you make a mistake.