There are 8 known hallucinogenic mushroom species to be found in Ireland. This guide will help you find and identify the most common of these: Psilocybe Semilanceata (the liberty cap).
We do not condone any illegal activities. Please check with your local laws and regulations before foraging these mushrooms.
Warning: be 100% sure you are picking the correct mushroom. Do not rely on just the information here. Please read as many identification guides as possible.
The season for foraging is between August and December, with the peak being September and October. However, this depends a lot on the altitude. Higher areas get colder earlier in the year, whereas lowland areas will stay warmer longer.
Libs feed on rotting vegetation. Usually this is old grass that is no longer growing once the autumn arrives and the temperature drops.
The mushrooms love rain and will spring up after a shower. Thunder and lightning are also known to act as a catalyst for the fungus to bear fruit.
You want to be looking for fields that have been undisturbed for a long time. Intensive agriculture with ploughing, slurry, fertiliser and herbicides will harm the mycelium (the hidden body of the fungus). Uphill sheep fields are an ideal habitat, as are perennial grass fields with plenty of thistles.
Features of the Psilocybe Semilanceata:
- Conical or bell-shaped
- A nipple-like protrusion on top.
- Up to 2.5 cm (1.0 in) in diameter
- Coloured yellow to brown, fading to a lighter colour
- Covered with radial grooves when moist
- Have slender, long and wavy stems
- 5-10cm long
- Beige/brown colour
- Pale-brown, turns purple-black as spores mature
- Between 15 to 27 narrow gills
Take a spore print by placing a cap on a piece of white paper for 2 to 6 hours. Liberty Cap spores should be a dark purplish brown.
Tips & Etiquette
- Flick and Pick. Before picking a mushroom, flick it to distribute the spores so that there will be more growth next year.
- Walk with the wind at your back. The prevalent wind will fold over mushrooms, meaning if you walk in a certain direction they will be easier to spot.
- It pays to go picking early in the morning. Some areas can be popular with other hunters and the easiest to spot mushrooms will all be taken.
- If you do find a liberty cap, get down on your hands and knees and search the area. They rarely grow alone.
- Remember to always give thanks to the land for your harvest. Say a prayer according to your belief system. Sing softly or drum while picking and you will develop a strong relationship with mushroom consciousness!