As winters get milder, more psychedelic mushrooms grow in England

As winters get milder, more psychedelic mushrooms grow in England

CultureJanuary 18, 2019 By Reilly Capps

Global warming is creating longer autumns and more frost-free winters in Britain, which means more hallucinogenic mushrooms sprouting wild.

Fungus experts there are warning foragers about the abundance of psilocybin mushrooms. That's right: "warning" them.

"The longer the season, the greater the risk foragers could accidentally pick something hallucinogenic, so with the warmer winter this is definitely more of a risk this year than in previous years," John Hughes, a fungi expert at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, told the Telegraph in the U.K.

Note that the sober-sounded Mr. Hughes employed the phrase "risk" of "accidentally" picking shrooms. Others might say "opportunity" to "accidentally" collect them. After all, the wild wonders are illegal in Britain. But how can the cops prove you didn't "accidentally" pluck a liberty cap, then "accidentally" eat it while in the third row of a Phish concert?

After all, the U.S. federal government officially declared the magic molecule in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, a "breakthrough therapy" for depression, when used with a good guide. Psilocybin also makes staring at your dog by yourself super interesting. It can also, don't forget, launch you on real bad journey. But disasters happen less often when you use a trained co-pilot. 

art - the brain on psilocybin

[Conceptual rendering of the changes in brain connections while on psilocybin, right, versus on a placebo. From the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, via Business Insider.]

Changes in weather patterns in Britain have fostered the psychedelic mushrooms, generally speaking, like kind parents in a warm living room. Jane Traynor, from the Staffordshire Fungi Group, told the Telegraph that shrooms are killed off by heavy frosts, which have taken this winter off.

The new environmental conditions in northern Europe are beneficial for fungus generally, the New Scientist reported ten years ago. Mushrooms of all kinds in the U.K. were blooming twice a year instead of once.  

On the other hand, in Oregon, a drought linked to a warmer planet has been bumping off some of that state's prized wild mushrooms, psychedelic or otherwise. 

[Cover photo: the liberty cap mushroom, which grows wild in Britain. Photo from Shutterstock.]