Liberty Caps Florescent Yellow Stem
CATTLE AS A POSSIBLE DISPERSAL MECHANISM FOR PSYCHOACTIVE DUNG FUNGI
One may ask the question, "how did these mushrooms arrive in Australia and New Zealand?" Well some species may be endemic,that is, they were already there naturally. Other species such as the above described dung-inhabiting mushrooms most likelyappeared after the introduction of cattle on the subcontinent.The first livestock to arrive in Australia were brought from the Cape of Good Hope in1788, and included 2 bulls and 5 cows, along with other domesticated farm animals. Byl803, the government owned approximately 1800 cattle, most of which were importedfrom the Cape, Calcutta, and the west coast of America. It was during this period thatsome of the visionary mushrooms mentioned in this field guide probably first appeared inAustralia (Unsigned, 1973). According to Australian mycologist John Burton Cleland(1934), "fungi growing in cow or horse-dung and confined to such habitats, must in thecase of Australia, all belong to introduced species". It is believed to have been the SouthAfrican dung beetle which may have actually spread the spores. According to Englishmycologist Roy Watling of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Glasgow, Scotland, "it must beremembered that fungi can change substrate preferences and there are coprophilousfungi on kangaroo droppings etc." Some mycologists who have studied the "magicmushrooms" in Australia and NZ claim that the "use of P. cubensis as a recreational drugtends to confirm the belief that some farmers in early times may have added one or two basidiomes gilled mushrooms to a mealto liven it up and still do Margot & Watling, 1981)."
The majority of adverse physical effects or negative psychological reactions produced by "magic mushrooms" generally result from inappropriate set and expectation, or because of improper dosage, which may vary considerably among consumers, different mushroom species, or even within an individual species. The question of dosage is often confused by the variation in the source of the hallucinogenic mushroom species which is consumed. For example, Psilocybe cubensis, when picked and eaten from its natural dung (manure) habitat, produces a relatively mild mindaltering experience, which is evident from the large amounts of fresh specimens needed to achieve a threshold experience. However when grown in vitro (indoor laboratory cultivation and/or illicit cultivation), Psilocybe cubensis apparently can produce a more potent strain capable of inducing a very intense visual, sometimes quite disturbing, experience. This dosage assumes that the consumption of 1 to 3 gm of dried material would be too low if the mushroom specimen came from a wild source. This low potency for Psilocybe cubensis has been confirmed by research scientists Margot & Watling, (1981), who were surprised by the comparatively small amounts of psilocybin and psilocin which they extracted from wild specimens collected from five different locations in Australia. This suggests that a much larger dose would be required to produce significant hallucinations. It is possible that the chemicals most likely degenerated between the time that they were harvested and the time of analysis. However, it should be noted that a strain of Psilocybe cubensis producing different flushes (harvests) will vary somewhat in potency between flushes. Psilocybe Spores