COMMON NAMES: Dunkelrandiger Düngerling, Gezoneerde Vlek Plaat (Dutch), Gezonter Düngerling, Magusotake (Japanese, ‘horse pasture mushroom’)
Panaeolus subbalteatus is most commonly found in Europe, but also grows throughout the Americas and Asia, especially in the subtropics and tropical regions. It features a 2 to 6 cm slightly convex cap that tends to be deep brown in the center, but fades to lighter shades further out as the cap gets drier. And indeed, the German name of this fungi, dunkelrandiger düngerling, translates to “dark-banded dung mushroom”. The “dung mushroom” part of this name refers to the fact that Panaeolus subbalteatus thrives in a dung-rich environment. The fungus does particularly well in horse pastures, although it may also feed from the dung of other animals and is sometimes spotted in grassy soil. These mushrooms may be found from April through September (Ratsch 1998, 657).
TRADITIONAL USES: There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that Germanic peoples combined Panaeolus subbalteatus with alcoholic beverages like mead or beer. Most of this evidence centers around the mushroom’s connection to Wotan, the Germanic god of ecstasy, as this fungus obviously has a mutualistic and symbiotic relationship to the horse, Wotan’s sacred animal (Ratsch 1998, 657). It is also interesting to note that pilz means mushroom, and pilzners are beers from Pilsen (or Plzeň), a city in the Czech Republic. Before the German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) was passed in 1516, it was extremely common for Germans to add all sorts of interesting psychoactive plants to their brews, and given the above information, it seems quite clear that mushrooms were a popular additive. (Thanks to Dr. Brisgen for clarifying the location of Pilsen and providing great information on Reinheitsgebot!)
Panaeolus subbalteatus is a well known weed in commercial mushroom crops, and is used for its psychoactive properties in the USA and Europe. It is regularly cultivated for this use by underground mycologists (Voogelbreinder 2009, 254).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: There is no recorded shamanistic use of Panaeolus subbalteatus. However, when it comes to Panaeolus subbalteatus dosage, it has been documented that at least 1.5 grams are needed for a psychoactive dose, while 2.7 grams provides a truly psychedelic dose. The mushroom’s psychoactive properties were first observed after several were accidentally ingested (Stein 1959). A Panaeolus subbalteatus dose of as little as 0.5-1g dried in the oven has been reported to yield mild effects (Voogelbreinder 2009, 254).
MEDICINAL USES: No information regarding the medicinal use of this mushroom. However, numerous recent research studies have explored the possible benefits of psilocybin-containing mushrooms like this one in treating disorders ranging from anxiety and OCD to severe cluster headaches. If you have any information on traditional or modern medicinal uses of Panaeolus subbalteatus, please do contact us.
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Panaeolus subbalteatus differs from other mushrooms that contain psilocybin in that it does not also contain psilocin, instead containing considerable quantity of serotonin and 5-hydroxy-tryptophan. P. subbalteatus contains about 0.7% psilocybin and 0.46% baeocystin. Although pharmacologists have verified experimentally that serotonin is not orally effective, users of this mushroom report that, compared to psilocybin-only mushrooms, Panaeolus subbalteatus delivers a psychedelic experience with a kinder, gentler edge. Hallucinations are less fleeting and therefore may be contemplated more naturally and comprehensively. The experience also seems to be more empathogenic and aphrodisiac than experiences with other mushrooms that contain only psilocybin (Gartz 1989 cited in Ratsch 1998, 657-658). Other reports of effects of this mushroom include “a strong favourable and euphoriant effect”, mild inebriation along with dizziness and sweating, and “tranquil inebriation” (Voogelbreinder 2009, 254).
Thanks to contributor Jim F. for the information on Pilzners and German beer additives!
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.
Stein, S.I. “Clinical Observations on the Effect of Panaeolus Venenosus Versus Psilocybe Caerulescens Mushrooms.” Mycologia, no. 51 (1959): 49–50.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.
Please note that Pilsen (or Plzeň) is a city in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic, not a German region: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plzeň
It is (in my opinion) true though that legal regulations like the Bavarian puritiy law of 1516 apparently mark the beginning of systematically banning psychoactive substances in Germany – with all the negative side effects of prohibitionism that we are aware of today. Did you know that the purity law for beer was a matter for debate even with regard to the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990?
For further information on this subject matter you might like to read the following article:
Greetings from Germany,
Dear Dr. Brisgen,
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and insight. I’ve corrected the mistake in the article, and have also added some information to our article on Humulus lupulus, with thanks to yourself, of course! I believe you are correct that the Bavarian Purity law marks the beginning of legislation that facilitated the Pharmacratic Inquisition, leading to the miserable situation we now find ourselves in world wide.