Maoilibertycaps Silicide Mushrooms
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)."
Existing evidence indicates that man in the Old World —Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia—has made less use of native plants and shrubs for their hallucinogenic properties than has man in the New World. There is little reason to believe that the vegetation of one half of the globe is poorer or richer in species with hallucinogenic properties than the other half. Why, then, should there be such disparity? Has man in the Old World simply not discovered many of the native hallucinogenic plants? Are some of them too toxic in other ways to be utilized? Or has man in the Old World been culturally less interested in narcotics? We have no real answer. But we do know that the Old World has fewer known species employed hallucinogenically than does the New World: compared with only 15 or 20 species used in the Eastern Hemisphere, the species used hallucinogenically in the Western Hemisphere number more than 100! Yet some of the Old World hallucinogens today hold places of primacy throughout the world. Cannabis, undoubtedly the most widespread of all the hallucinogens, is perhaps the best example. The several solanaceous ingredients of medieval witches' brews—henbane, nightshade, belladonna, and mandrake—greatly influenced European philosophy, medicine, and even history for many years. Some played an extraordinarily vital religious role in the early Aryan cultures of northern India. The role of hallucinogens in the cultural and social development of many areas of the Old World is only now being investigated. At every turn, its exte Silicide Mushrooms