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What is Linalool? | Linalool Terpene Effects, Benefits & Strains

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The aromatic compounds found in cannabis, called terpenes, have traditionally been thought to contribute to cannabis merely by enriching its aroma and flavor. But in recent years, terpenes have gained attention for their contribution the “entourage effect,” through which they improve cannabis’ physiological benefits (when compared to isolated cannabinoids). They may also modulate the strength and efficacy of individual cannabinoids on brain and body targets. 

We’re focusing here on linalool, a much-loved terpene found in lavender, basil, and indica strains that’s shown to have extensive therapeutic benefits in aromatherapy, scientific study, and, of course, smoking some good ganja.

Related

What are cannabis terpenes and what do they do?

The aroma of linalool

Linalool, like many terpenes, is not specific to cannabis; its characteristic lavender scent with a hint of spiciness can be found in over 200 types of plants. In fact, it’s so common that even those who don’t use cannabis consume over two grams of linalool each year through their food, including numerous fruits and spices. That may seem like a lot, but there’s very little risk of adverse effects. Linalool doesn’t stick around in your body for long and doesn’t accumulate like the cannabinoids that get stored in your fatty tissues in the body and brain.

It also offers aromatic benefits. Your sense of smell is intricately linked to emotion and memory centers in the brain, establishing a potential cause and effect between the terpene’s pleasant lavender floral scent (cause), with a relaxed and improved mood (effect). While olfactory sensation may still contribute to the terpene’s effect, research now suggests that terpenes directly affect brain processing by modulating the behavior of the brain cells.

Cannabis strains containing linalool

Few cannabis strains contain high levels of linalool; it rarely breaks into a strain’s top three most abundant terpenes. Below, you’ll find a few strains featuring linalool as the primary, secondary or tertiary terpene, but it’s usually a lot lower on a strain’s terpene profile, behind the more abundant myrcene, and limonene.

Most strains rich in linalool impart effects associated with indica-dominant genetics, which include both mental and physical relaxation, sleepiness, and a strong case of the munchies.     

Related

How to Customize Your Cannabis High With Temperature

Linalool’s benefits

Hundreds of plants produce linalool, and it has a lot to offer when it comes to healing.

Antimicrobial

This terpene’s antimicrobial properties protect the plant against insects, and represent a potential therapeutic use for people in fighting cell-damaging bacteria. Whether it was used as an early antibiotic is unknown.  

Sedative

Linalool (often in the form of lavender or peanut stems and leaves) has been used in traditional medicine practices across the globe as a sedative and muscle relaxer. It has also shown to have anticonvulsant and anti-epileptic properties.

Reduce anxiety & depression

Mice exposed to linalool vapors show reduced levels of anxiety and lower depression-like behaviors. In these tests, mice exposed to linalool vapors spend more time in fear-inducing environments, and will continue to work to escape a seemingly hopeless situation. In human studies examining the therapeutic effects of lavender essential oil, of which linalool is the main compound, it effectively lowered participants’ scores on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale.  

Stress relief & immunity

Linalool also strengthens  the immune system against the destructive effects of stress. Stress causes a shift in the distribution of white blood cells in the body (i.e., the cells of the immune system); the percent of lymphocytes decrease, and neutrophils increase. In studies done on rats, linalool prevented this shift, and by extension, prevented the stress-induced changes in how the rats’ DNA was expressed. Interestingly, the authors reasoned that this protection was mediated by linalool’s ability to activate the body’s parasympathetic response, which is activated when the body is resting and digesting food.

Related

CBD (cannabidiol): What does it do and how does it affect the brain & body?

Linalool effects: How does linalool affect the brain?

Studies indicate that linalool’s behavioral effects may largely be mediated by how it impacts the brain. One way is through blocking the receptors for the primary excitatory brain chemical, glutamate, which could account for linalool’s potentially anti-epileptic properties in some forms of epilepsy. This terpene also has the ability to enhance the effect of other sedatives, such as pentobarbital.

Additionally, linalool may be muscle-relaxing and have pain-relieving effects through additional distinctive mechanisms. For instance, linalool reduces the signaling strength of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that’s required for muscle contraction and movement. Linalool can have anesthetic-like effects by reducing the excitability of cells in the spinal cord that transmit pain signals to the brain.

Some of linalool’s pain-relieving abilities can be ascribed to its elevation of adenosine levels, an inhibitory brain chemical that is notably blocked by caffeine. Together, this multitude of nervous system targets contribute to its sedative, anxiety-reducing, and pain-relieving benefits.

These effects provide foundational support for linalool’s benefits in pain therapy. In one study, obese patients who underwent gastric banding surgery were either exposed to linalool-rich lavender oil vapor or an unscented control. Only 46% of the patients who inhaled the lavender oil required postoperative opioid medication, compared to 82% of the control group. Further, the morphine needs of those in the lavender group were nearly half that of the control group, together suggesting that linalool can reduce the need for post-surgery opioid-based pain treatment.

Related

How Does Cannabis Consumption Affect Neurodegenerative Diseases?

Linalool’s potential benefits in Alzheimer’s disease 

Perhaps the most exciting therapeutic use for linalool is its emerging potential as a novel Alzheimer’s disease treatment, as it’s shown to reduce and regulate the production of inflammatory proteins in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and currently irreversible and incurable disease caused by the buildup of brain plaques and cellular tangles that lead to brain degeneration.

This degeneration causes severe memory and cognitive impairment, and current treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s disease are largely ineffective at recovering function. This has set scientists on a quest to identify techniques that reduce these plaques and tangles in the hopes of reversing the disease’s course and recovering normal brain function.

A promising study from 2016 points to linalool as a potential Alzheimer’s treatment. In a genetic mouse model, linalool reversed many of the behavioral and cognitive impairments associated with the disease. Further, it reduced the number of brain plaques and cellular tangles that define the disease and contribute to brain degeneration.

Despite all this research, linalool still has many hurdles before it makes its way into the clinic. But these Alzheimer’s studies coupled with previous studies demonstrating benefits in reducing pain, anxiety, and depression point to the importance of continued investigation into the therapeutic benefits of linalool and other terpenes in cannabis.

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Josh Kaplan

Josh Kaplan, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at Western Washington University. He is a passionate science writer, educator, and runs a laboratory that researches cannabis’ developmental and therapeutic effects.

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Arizona

Leafly Buzz: Top 12 fire weed strains of April

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West Coast 4/20 fans—who’s ready for a THC tolerance break?

Yeah, not us, either. Too many exquisite buds are in bloom.

Seth Rogen’s Houseplant serves up tasty Strawberry Moon. NFL baller Ricky Williams puts in Jesus Zkittlezworth. And rap outfit RBL Posse slings Red Velvet that comes with a “No Bammer” guarantee.

Fresh dessert strains lure us in with names that match flavors: White Truffle, Horchata, and Georgia Apple Pie. Mmmm. And the brand Artisan offers “Wormholes”—”worms” or rosin inside big, crazy-expensive joints.

Here’s the West’s essential monthly fire flower roundup. That’s right, it’s Leafly Buzz: the post-4/20 high-tolerance edition.


Trending strains in the West

leafly buzz data grinder
Strains are the real celebs on Leafly, and every star rises or falls over time. Leafly Buzz’s Data Grinder calculates what’s shining bright.

Horchata—up 11%

Horchata grown by SOG Santa Rosa (David Downs/Leafly)
Horchata, grown by SOG Santa Rosa. (David Downs/Leafly)

Look out for superb, cinnamony, creamy, gassy jars of Horchata, up 11% in search interest in the western US. Growers like SOG (Sea of Green) in Santa Rosa, CA have dialed in this Mochi Gelato x Jet Fuel Gelato, originally bred by Wyeast/Compound Genetics.

Horchata is fun, chatty, and engaging. It goes great with that long-overdue dinner night out with friends. The best jars have a legit, rare, cinnamon top note with a fuel-vanilla and nutmeg spice finish, all coming from diesel and cookies genes. Cinnamon terps’ time has come.

White Truffle—up 21%

White Truffle grown by 'Snowtill' in the Bay Area. (David Downs/Leafly)
White Truffle, grown by Snowtill in the Bay Area. Indica hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

It’s 2022 and the descendants of Sour Diesel and GSC strains rule as weed aristocracy. Just look at this fancy White Truffle, up 21% in interest month over month.

Michigan’s Fresh Coast Genetics crossed Original Glue to Peanut Butter Breath and dubbed it Gorilla Butter F2, aka White Truffle. This hybrid indica strain smells dank—earthy, piney, and sweet, with body to it. White Truffle leaves Leafly reviewers tingly, creative, and aroused. It’s definitely more of a lean-back strain for chill hobbies like gaming or movie-watching.

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Candyland—up 29.6%

Rimrock Farms Candyland via The Green Cross SF (David Downs/Leafly).
Rimrock Farms’ Candyland, via The Green Cross SF. Indica hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly).

Old school Bay Area California weed makes a comeback with Candyland—that classic cross of Granddaddy Purple and Bay Platinum Cookies. Candyland went stupid in search—up 29.6% month over month, probably because it’s such a solid producer outdoors.

This hybrid from Grand Daddy Purp Genetics’ Ken Estes became a legend for its dank, grape, cookie smell and taste, and laid-back effects good from afternoon ’til evening.

Jack Herer—up 11%

Mattole Valley Organics Jack Herer; via Flore dispensary. Sativa fo the divas. (David Downs/Leafly)
Mattole Valley Organics’ Jack Herer, via Flore dispensary. Sativa for the divas. (David Downs/Leafly)

Sorry, sativa lovers—most of the strain release hype occurs on the hybrid and indica side of the spectrum. But if you need something for chores, spreadsheets, and spacing out, we’d go with the number one sativa in the West, Jack Herer; up 11% in recent search interest.

Newer sativas can’t beat this Sensi Seeds cross of Haze x Northern Lights #5 x Skunk #1, named for the activist. Excellent Jack smells and tastes sugar-sweet, piney, woody, and spicy. People turn to it for energetic, creative, focused, and uplifting effects, like going Marie Kondo on that messy home office.

New in the Leafly Strain Database

leafly buzz new strains
Every month, Leafly experts add dozens of the highest searched and most stocked cultivars to our official strain database. Here are four extra notable additions.

Strawberry Moon

Houseplant Strawberry Moon. Indica hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)
Houseplant’s Strawberry Moon. Indica hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

Seth Rogen’s California flower brand Houseplant has a new indica hybrid that’ll make fans swoon: Strawberry Moon. Mr. Rogen isn’t personally growing the stuff, of course; Houseplant “white labels” bud from a high-end flower grower and fans pay a premium for curation.

Strawberry Moon comes labeled as Old Family Purple crossed to Merlot OG, making it pretty analogous to God’s Gift. Amen to that. It’s lemony, funky, sweet, grapey, and very high-THC—so pair it with pajamas and an HBO Now binge.

OMG

Ladybug Herbal Sanctuary OMG via Flore dispensary San Francisco. (David Downs/Leafly)
Ladybug Herbal Sanctuary-grown OMG, via Flore dispensary, San Francisco. Indica hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

Over-analyze music lyrics during couch-locking, face-melting chillaxation on this new indica hybrid, OMG.

It’s a play on GMO—one of the dominant cultivars of ‘22. Ripper Seeds crossed GMO Cookies to Kush Mints, yielding a crazy-strong combination of both.

GMO genes dominate in this cross, and we’re OK with that. It tastes astringently sweet, kushy, and minty, with powerful, heady, day-melting effects. We went “OMG” when we smelled the first savory, chemmy hit.

Georgia Apple Pie

Georgia Apple Pie grown by Sense SF (David Downs/Leafly)
Georgia Apple Pie, grown by Sense SF. Hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

Fresh off the racks of the hotbeds of cannabis culture: hybrid Georgia Apple Pie. Raw Genetics crossed Seed Junky’s Georgia Pie (Gelatti x Kush Mints 11) to Lumpy’s Apple Fritter, and if that all sounds like algebra to you, that’s fine.

Expect perfect-looking buds with frickin’ notes of peach and apple pie—I’m talkin’ tart, sugary, cinnamon scrumptiousness. You’re gonna get french toasted on this strain’s very high-THC hybrid effects. Pack a picnic and a blanket, and text a friend for a weekend park session.

Stay Puft

Compound Genetics Stay Puft, grown by Sense SF. (David Downs/Leafly)
Compound Genetics’ Stay Puft, grown by Sense SF. (David Downs/Leafly)

Compound Genetics’ trendsetting Marshmallow OG cross Stay Puft lives up to its name as a big, frosty, boss of a bud. The hybrid combines Marshmallow OG x Grape Gasoline (Grape Pie x Jet Fuel Gelato) for impeccable bag appeal and a sweet, biting, vanilla smell and taste.

Stay Puft hits about as hard as the Ghostbusters bad guy, with skyscraper-high-THC hybrid effects that go great with watching your favorite YouTubers, or playing some GTA Online.

Fresh in stores this month

New on shelves

Jesus Zkittlezworth from Ricky Williams’ Highsman

Ricky Williams' Highsman brand Jesus Zkittlezworth is zkittlez from Natura for a fair price. (David Downs/Leafly)
Ricky Williams’ Highsman brand Jesus Zkittlezworth is Zkittlez from Natura for a fair price. (David Downs/Leafly)

Hold the haterade—NFL player Ricky Williams’ Highsman brand, and their “Pregame” flower Jesus Zkittlezworth, has got the right stuff. Expect pretty, shapely nugs and an all-star Zkittlez fruit syrup smell that jumps out of the bag.

It leans toward Tangie, with Zkittlez tropical candy and zesty, high-THC party weed effects. Highsman curates, or “white labels,” bud from Sacramento greenhouse growers Natura this season. But guess what—Ricky can pick ‘em. The Pregame, the Halftime, and the Postgame strains (renamed Zkittlez, PB Breath, and Gelato) all can ball. They’re also priced to move.

One more thing: The bag’s called “Pregame,” but don’t expect to shave seconds off your 40-yard dash. Performance-enhance your bocce ball, croquet, or disc golf game instead.

Hot on shelves

Ruthless By Law Red Velvet

Sunset Connect + Ruthless by Law 'Red Velvet;' via Flore SF. (David Downs/Leafly)
Sunset Connect + Ruthless by Law ‘Red Velvet;’ via Flore SF. (David Downs/Leafly)

A Bay Area mantra for 30 years—”Don’t give me no bammer weed,” comes to the legal era with this flower release from RBL Posse member Black C’s Ruthless By Law Red Velvet, through equity brand Sunset Connect.

The bag carries a “No Bammer” guarantee, and Leafly can co-sign. The Baldwin Brothers of Oakland grew this high-THC hybrid of Lemon Cherry Gelato x Pina Acai indoors.

The crazy thing: Our bag had a super unique, cinnamon, red hot front note, with a mild diesel back. The smell carries through to the cinnamon spicy-sweet taste. Testing at 28% THC, we got strong, uplifting, hybrid effects. Great for the studio, the meetup, and the club.

Best-selling on shelves

leafly buzz best sellers

Ball out

Terdz by Cloutking, OR

Cloutking Terdz impresses Oregon stoners. (Ryan Herron for Leafly)
Cloutking Terdz impresses Oregon stoners. (Ryan Herron for Leafly)

In a world gone mad, it’s therapeutic to get lost in a giggle fit and have no clue what started it. Enter, Terdz. The second best part of a mylar bag covered in cartoon poop is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, so you don’t have to either. The first best part is the weed, no joke.

Clout King reportedly selected this cross of Jet Fuel Gelato and Runtz, and the farm His and Her Grow cultivated it to perfection in Oregon. Sharing a joint gave us a pronounced effect that encouraged conversation and seemed to slow time. With big Sherbert notes and an earthy profile, this flower does a satisfying job balancing a fruit-forward bouquet with nose-wrinkling funk.

Ballin’ on a budget

Papaya Punch from Brother David’s, CA

Papaya Punch from Brother David's via High Tides in Gualala, CA. Hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)
Papaya Punch from Brother David’s, via High Tides in Gualala, CA. Hybrid. (David Downs/Leafly)

Look out for bargains on Papaya Punch by the bunch across the western US. This indica hybrid cross of Papaya and Purple Punch gives functional, versatile, uplifting, munchie-inducing effects that make it great as a dinner party digestif for novices, or an appetizer for the high toleranced.

Quality Papaya Punch smells and tastes like it sounds: a fruity mix of apricot, orange, and tropical papaya. Bred by Oni Seeds, Papaya Punch—and all the Punches—have become staple, workhorse strains in the US.

Have your pick up and down the coast in stores like High Tides in Gualala, CA, where we got Brother David’s branded Papaya Punch, straight from Humboldt County’s Mattole Valley Organics, a Sun + Earth Certified farm.

Related

America’s hottest cannabis of 420 ’22

Highest-THC product of the month

leafly buzz high note
We like to end things on a super-high note. (Leafly)

Artisan Wormhole (feat. Greendawg + Hash Assassins)

Does weed not get you high anymore? Time for a tolerance break. But before you go, traverse the WormholeArtisan‘s hyper premium, infused pre-roll.

The “worm” refers to 0.4 grams of extremely terpy, high-THC rosin—specifically, Hash Assassins’ extract from the strain Gas Tanker #15. Artisan staff encases the worm in 3 grams of Dawg Breath flower from top-shelf growers Greendawg. It’s 57% THC and 100% bananas.

Artisan specializes in batch-specific thai sticks, joints, and infused joints—all hand-rolled and ferociously potent. And they’re quality, too. Lots of infused joints use a headachey mix of shake and distillate that’ll give you a short, shallow high. By contrast, Greendawg’s Dawg Breath alone has a ferocious bark—all the Chemdog and OGKB stank a connoisseur craves. But together with the Gas Tanker rosin? Nothing prepares you for your first wormhole.

And that’s a wrap. See you back here soon for the May Leafly Highlight, and a new Leafly Buzz.


About Leafly Buzz

Oft-copied, never co-opted—Leafly Buzz remains a popular, monthly editorial product of Leafly News. Independently reported without fear or favor, Leafly Buzz captures the connoisseur cannabis conversation, focusing on strain and branded flower news west of the Rockies. Reporting includes:

  • Secret shopping in stores
  • Breeder, grower, distributor, and retail interviews
  • Leafly search data
  • Staff and reader tips, and more

Read back issues of Leafly Buzz

Got corrections, clarifications, tips, or news? We’re here to serve at buzz@leafly.com.

Oregon freelance journalist Ryan Herron contributed to this post.

How did we do this month? Leave a nice comment below.

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David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He’s written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including ‘Marijuana Harvest’ by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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cannabis and mushrooms

Do magic mushrooms have ‘strains’ like cannabis?

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Mind & Matter is a monthly column by Nick Jikomes, PhD, Leafly’s Director of Science and Innovation.

Most cannabis consumers are familiar with the concept of strains. But does the same idea apply in the realm of psychoactive fungi? Is there a Blue Dream of magic mushrooms?

Let’s first get clear on what we mean by “strains.” All cannabis products are derived from plants belonging to just one species, Cannabis sativa. Within cannabis consumer culture, different varieties of this species are referred to as strains.

Different species and strains have different levels of psilocybin. Your experience will differ with the strain, as with cannabis.

New strains arise by crossing plants from different lineages of Cannabis sativa and are said to offer distinct effects. Because the effects of Cannabis depend on its chemical profile, this implies that products labeled with different strain names should have measurably different profiles, on average. This was the subject of a recent study conducted by the University of Colorado and Leafly. We found that this is sometimes true.

Related

How to dose psychedelic mushrooms

Strains, cultivars, and chemovars

Scientists generally don’t like the term “strains” in the context of Cannabis. Many of them, such as Dr. Ethan Russo, prefer other terms. “Cultivar” is a botanical term referring to plants that have been bred by people to consistently display specific traits (i.e. phenotypes). The term “chemovar” is also used, drawing attention to chemical varieties distinguished by their chemistry—the particular mix of cannabinoids, terpenes, or other compounds. 

I’m not interested in adjudicating linguistic holy wars, but in helping people understand the functional differences between distinct psychoactive products and biological entities, whatever we choose to call them.

Classifying based on effects

If you care about distinguishing varieties of psychoactive plants or fungi based on their potential effects, you should classify them based on chemical phenotypes (“chemotypes”).

In other words, if two Cannabis strains look similar but display different chemotypes, that’s a functional difference. Conversely, if two strains look different but share the same chemotype, that’s a cosmetic difference.

The same thinking applies to mushrooms, including the many species of Psilocybe mushrooms containing psilocybin. Believe it or not, humans are closer relatives to fungi, including psilocybin mushrooms, than we are to plants. 

illustration-of-the-tree-of-life
Illustration by Joshua Titus / Leafly

Psilocybin mushrooms: Knowing the basics

Unlike Cannabis, there are many different species of magic mushrooms. Like Cannabis, the psychoactive effects of these mushrooms are driven mainly by a single drug. Also like Cannabis, this drug is not produced directly by the organism.

Cannabis produces THCA. When heat is applied to THCA, it’s turned into the psychoactive compound THC. Magic mushrooms produce psilocybin, which is metabolized by the human digestive system into the psychedelic compound known as psilocin. 

illustration-of-how-psychedelic-substances-are-activated
The THC in cannabis is activated by heat. The psilocin in magic mushrooms is activated by the body’s digestive system. (Joshua Titus / Leafly)

Compounds found in magic mushrooms

Similar to Cannabis, magic mushrooms tend to produce other compounds which may influence the overall psychoactive effect. Let’s briefly list the main ones before describing some of the most common species and strains of psilocybin mushrooms.

Main compounds in magic mushrooms

  • Psilocybin: The most famous compound associated with magic mushrooms. Learn more here.
  • Psilocin: The active metabolite of psilocybin, which induces powerful psychedelic effects. Learn more about how it generates psychedelic effects here.
  • Baeocystin: A psilocybin analog typically found in lower quantities. There are isolated human reports it may be a milder hallucinogen, but very little scientific research has been done.
  • Norbaeocystin: Another minor compound associated with psilocybin mushrooms. Very little is known.
  • β-carbolines: These compounds are monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Monoamine oxidases are enzymes that break down certain drugs, including psilocin and DMT. β-carbolines are a key ingredient in ayahuasca because they render DMT orally active. They would be expected to extend the effect of psilocin.

What’s different? The ratios of each compound

Different mushrooms may express systematically different ratios of each, akin to the different cannabinoid and terpene profiles displayed by certain Cannabis strains. The extent to which an “entourage effect” plays a role in giving different magic mushroom varieties distinct psychedelic effects remains to be determined.

For a deep dive into the chemistry of different species of magic mushrooms, check out this lecture from one of the OG psilocybin mushroom mycologists.

Related

What are the potential risks of microdosing psychedelics?

Common psilocybin mushroom species & strains

Psilocybin mushrooms include species primarily found within the genus Psilocybe. There are psychedelic mushrooms outside the genus Psilocybe, but they are lesser known or contain psychoactive agents besides psilocybin (e.g. Panaeolus cyanescens, Amanita muscaria).

Similar to Cannabis, different Psilocybe species and strains can vary widely in their phenotypic characteristics (e.g. physical appearance, ideal habitat, resilience).

They also vary widely in potency, which can be difficult to gauge prior to consumption (see our dosing guide). Note that in the chart below, P. cyanescens contains more than five times as much psilocin, by weight percentage, as P. stuntzii. Ingest one when you think you’re ingesting the other and—well, it’s going to be a much different experience.

It’s important to emphasize that psilocybin content can vary dramatically between individuals within the same strain of one species. This is why magic mushrooms should always be approached with great care. If you split up five grams of dried mushrooms from the same exact batch, one half can be much more potent than the other.

Psilocybin levels: Not all Psilocybe mushrooms are the same

illustration-of-different-psilocybin-content-in-different-mushrooms
Different mushroom types may contain dramatically different levels of psilocybin. (Joshua Titus / Leafly)

‘Blueing’ of psilocybin mushrooms

A feature that most Psilocybe mushrooms share is their tendency to bruise an interesting bluish color when they are physically damaged.

The presence of “bluing” is often used as one of the key indicators that a mushroom species contains psilocybin.

This effect occurs after the mushroom has been physically damaged and exposed to air, leading to chemical reactions that break down psilocybin and create new compounds.

The extent of bluing depends on the ratio of psilocybin to psilocin in the mushroom, as well as levels of other enzymes. It’s possible for some magic mushrooms to contain a psychedelic dose of psilocybin/psilocin without bruising blue. So while this color change can be one diagnostic feature about whether a mushroom is “magic,” it may not be a reliable indicator of potency.

Species of magic mushrooms

illustration-of-mushroom-strains
Joshua Titus illustration / Leafly

Psilocybe cubensis: The most common magic mushrooms

Psilocybe cubensis is by far the most common species of psilocybin mushroom. If you have encountered magic mushrooms before, there’s a good chance it was a strain of P. cubensis.

Similar to different strains of Cannabis, which all belong to the same species (Cannabis sativa), there are many strains of P. cubensis. They can differ in terms of physical features, growth characteristics, and potency. These differences are often tied to the particular environments that each has adapted to. 

Despite their differences, most P. cubensis strains are considered to be among the most beginner-friendly due to their relative heartiness. In terms of potency, they tend to have medium-high psilocybin levels. They are found all over the world and thrive in warm, wet climates (often in the tropics). Here are some of the most common cubensis strains:

  • B+: A resilient strain that can grow under a range of conditions and is said to produce a relatively smooth experience. Often recommended for first-time growers and consumers. They tend to have large, golden-brown caps and white stems that bruise easily when handled.
  • Golden Teachers: Similar to B+, this strain is also commonly recommended for beginners.
  • Costa Rican: Many strains are named after the region where they were first isolated or commonly grow in. Costa Rica is one example and there are many others, including Burma, Cambodia, Ecuador, etc.
  • Penis Envy: Yes, there’s a strain called Penis Envy, named after its suggestive morphology. Compared to other cubensis strains, this is one of the most potent and difficult to cultivate. Not recommended for beginners, but also one of the most coveted strains.

Psilocybe semilanceata: Liberty Caps

This species is among the most widespread wild Psilocybe mushrooms in the world, with comparable potency to P. cubensis. Unlike cubensis and other mushrooms native to the tropics, Liberty Caps can be found in more temperate climates within Europe, North America, Canada, and certain places in the Southern Hemisphere (e.g. New Zealand, Chile).

In terms of phenotype and habitat, Liberty Caps are small with thin stems. Their name comes from the bell-shaped cap they have. These mushrooms often camouflage with the grass they grow in and are not easy to grow indoors. For that reason, they are commonly picked in the wild, not cultivated.

Psilocybe cyanescens: Wavy Caps

Named for the wavy caps that distinguish them from most Psilocybe species, P. cyanescens is often considered to be the most potent psilocybin mushroom. They can be found in the wild in the Pacific Northwest of the US, as well as Central Europe.

They like to grow in woody debris and can often be found in human-made environments containing wood chips or mulch.

Due to their high average psilocybin content, consumption should be undertaken with especially great care.

Psilocybe Mexicana: Teonanacatl, aka Pajaritos

As its name suggests, this species grows in Mexico. Like many mushrooms, it sprouts its fruiting bodies during the rainy season and is most common in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Michoacán, and Puebla.

This species grows at higher altitude than most other Psilocybe species and can be found in mossy areas, deciduous forests, meadows, and soils rich in manure (although it does not grow directly in dung).

Their nickname Pajaritos translates to “little birds,” which refers to the fact that they often induce a potent experience despite their small stature. Their other nickname, Teonanacatl, means “flesh of the gods.”

P. mexicana is thought to be the mushroom used ritualistically by the Aztecs. It was also the species originally sent to Albert Hoffman, the chemist who first synthesized LSD, in the 1950s. He used it to cultivate additional specimens and isolate psilocybin and psilocin. 

Psilocybe azurescens: Flying Saucer Mushrooms

This species is known by many informal names: Flying Saucers, Blue Angels, Blue Runners, or Azzies. They are native to the West coast of the US and mainly found in the Columbia River delta due to their preference for sandy soils.

Compared to tropical species that tend to be cultivated indoors, such as P. cubensis, this species tolerates temperatures as low as 60 degrees Fahrenheit and can be cultivated outdoors. They have bell-shaped caps, with a shape somewhere between Liberty Caps and P. cubensis.

Psilocybe stuntzii: Blue Legs aka Blue Ringers

Found in the wild mainly in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, this species can be found near older grassy lawns, often in well kept human-made structures like parks, churches, government buildings, and schools.

Named after mycologist Daniel Stuntz of the University of Washington, this species tends to have lower psilocybin levels and may not bruise bluish much.

Psilocybe baeocystis: Bottlecaps aka Bluebells

Another species found mainly in the Pacific Northwest of the US, this species’ habitat is similar to P. stuntzii and can be found in well-manured soil or mulch with a mix of grass that is old and well-kept.

Again, magic mushrooms often like to grow areas frequently disturbed and maintained by human activity. Bluing occurs heavily in this species when handled.

Psilocybe pelliculosa: Confer shrooms

Found mainly in the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada, this species grows in clusters along trails or roads in coniferous forests. It is often mistaken for Psilocybe semilanceata, although the latter can be distinguished by a somewhat differently shaped cap.

Remember: Local laws apply, proceed with caution

Psilocybin mushrooms are a fascinating and diverse group of fungi with a rich history reaching all the way back to prehistory. They are common in the wild in certain ecological niches throughout the world and often cultivated indoors. While their possession is decriminalized in certain places, they are illegal in many countries and US states.

The psychedelic experiences they induce can be fun, life-changing, healing, overwhelming, or terrifying—sometimes each of these within the same trip. Their psilocybin content is very difficult to assess ahead of time, so proceed with extreme caution.

To learn more about Mind & Matter and listen to the podcast episodes that inspired this article, visit this link.

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Nick Jikomes, PhD

Nick is Leafly’s Director of Science & Innovation and holds a PhD in Neuroscience from Harvard University and a B.S. in Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the host of a popular science podcast, which you can listen to for free at: www.nickjikomes.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @trikomes

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Meet the ‘NJ Gas Man’ bringing Cookies to New Jersey

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TerrAscend’s Nick D’Amelio is the head of cultivation for some of NJ’s most anticipated cannabis brands, including Cookies


Nick D’Amelio has been entrusted with baking up New Jersey’s only batch of the highly sought-after Cookies brand, along with premium flower for Kind Tree, Gage Growth, and many more.

As head cultivator for TerrAscend, which operates the Apothecarium dispensaries in Phillipsburg and Maplewood, Nick’s been preparing for NJ’s opening day of adult-use sales far longer than most stoners.

The New Jersey native was known as ‘NJ Gas Man’ before joining the legal industry at the state’s first dispensary in Montclair. After almost five years in the legal game, he is now the head grower for his New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

Nick joined TerrAscend in 2019 and has helped the company transform an old farm in Boonton Township into one of the state’s premier grow operations. On the same land that once grew Christmas trees and pumpkins, NJ Gas Man is now nurturing The Garden State’s next big cash crop.

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How to find New Jersey’s weed stores open on April 21

Leafly visited Nick at TerrAscend’s NJ grow ahead of the state’s opening day of sales tomorrow (April 21). Here’s what we learned about how one of The Garden State’s largest providers is preparing to serve medical and adult-use patients in some of the state’s busiest markets.


Nick D'Amelio, head of cultivation for TerrAscend
No official Cookies on Day 1 of legal sales in New Jersey, but it’s coming. (Jon Bain)

D’Amelio: I think it’s gonna be dank, to be honest. We’re gonna have a ton of consumers that are coming out and trying our products, and everyone else’s products.

I think it’s gonna be extremely efficient for us. (We are) trying to get product out the door as fast as possible from the retail side of things. We never rush cultivation, but I think that it’s gonna be a real live market for us (on day one).

Like all the other states that kind of went rec right away, we’re gonna have a lot of people that are gonna wanna get product on the first day. I think as The Garden State, we get to set the standard with cultivation, but also to set ourselves apart from (states) who screwed up the first time they opened up recreational. We learned from those mistakes. 

Related

These are New Jersey’s top weed strains

What we learned from serving medical patients first

D’Amelio: After serving medical patients, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that it’s always patients over profit. Patients come first.

Before weed was legalized for all adults, we served medical patients as an alternative treatment center (ATC). Some of those ATCs, including two of TerrAscend’s, were approved to expand to rec sales starting April 21, 2022.

It’s also quality over quantity for us. … just come out with fire and produce the best quality medicine or product that we can.

Nick D’Amelio, TerrAscend head of cultivation

It’s also quality over quantity for us. We can produce as much weed in the world, but doesn’t matter if it’s not ideal for patients. We’re looking to develop specific products, whether it’s 15%, or up to 35% THC, or 1% to 3% terpenes, we wanna provide the best medicine for patients and we want to continue that for consumers.

Medical has also taught me that the most important thing is just being true, transparent and honest about what we’re doing. And then just come out with fire and produce the best quality medicine or product that we can.

D’Amelio: For New Jersey, we want to make sure we provide the best quality medicine for the patients while still being able to produce high quality cannabinoids for the recreational market.

For the East Coast and anywhere else that we expand, we want to keep that quality over quantity. We want to give the best product that we can to everybody, whether it’s patients or consumers. 

Leafly contributor Mikhail Harrison smells the goods at TerrAscend’s Boonton, NJ grow facility. (Jon Bain)

Prioritizing medical access before consumer access

D’Amelio: We will always make sure that we have medical supply for the patients, because without them, there would be no program. There would be no recreational without medical. So we will always prioritize that first.

To make sure medical access is never interrupted, we’ll have separate lines and essentially separate allotments for the medical market. And if we run out of medical, we’ll pull from recreation. But we will not pull from medical to sell recreational. We will make sure the patients are always provided with medicine first. 

On being New Jersey’s exclusive Cookies supplier

D’Amelio: We are looking forward to working with Cookies brands to be the state’s exclusive supplier of their products. We are just waiting on approval from New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) to bring licensed Cookies products to the East Coast.

In 2021, TerrAscend partnered with Cookies to be the exclusive supplier of Cookies products in the New Jersey market. There is no licensed Cookies cannabis available in New York or Pennsylvania, so there should be a lot of demand for that when it becomes available. At the Gage Cannabis location in Michigan, people drive for hours to stuff their jars with Cookies. With our dispensaries less than 30 minutes from New York City and Philadelphia, it’s gonna be crazy.

Has the CRC’s licensing process been fair so far?

D’Amelio: Yeah, I think it’s very fair. I like what they’re doing with the micro licenses. Focusing on social equity and putting the micro licenses before the big MSOs. I think that goes a long way.

I think a lot of people that deserve licenses will have a chance to get them. And I think that the process is real complicated, like every other state. But the CRCs doing a great job in figuring out how to award these licenses.

Nick D’Amelio tends to his plants during Leafly’s visit to TerrAscend. (Jon Bain)

D’Amelio: We’re the first major tri-state to legalize cannabis. So I think that Pennsylvania and New York, all these other states that come and visit already are gonna be able to run into a dispensary and get what they want, then go back home, or stay at a hotel (and enjoy).

But I think the biggest thing that makes us unique is being The Garden State, and having so many people here, I think we’re going to be the East Coast California. I think we’re gonna have one of the best markets and some of the best quality products out there. And I think that New Jersey is gonna be on the map for cannabis, just like California and Canada.

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Mikhail Harrison

Trinidad-born, New Jersey-raised content producer Mikhail Harrison has been a cannabis advocate and influencer for over a decade, working both on camera and behind the scenes to normalize the plant for all.

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