Are magic mushrooms legal in the UK?
In a word, no. The picking and preparing (which means drying or any other preparation) of magic mushrooms in the UK is entirely illegal.
This applies to all varieties of hallucinogenic or psychadelic magic mushrooms including the popular liberty caps. So if you’re thinking about going out to collect magic mushrooms in Devon at this time of year, be aware of the fact that you could be arrested for your activities if you’re too blatant or obvious.
When do magic mushrooms grow in the UK?
The season for liberty caps runs from around late September or early October until traditionally the first frost. This is usually mid November, but you can even find liberty caps or libs after the frost in the right places.
There are also other species of magic mushrooms which grow in the UK outside of this season, including wavy caps. Fly agaric mushrooms, the classic red and white spotted toadstool, can fruit until well into the winter.
Typically the liberty caps and fimetaria will fruit once the temperature drops and there has been some moisture on the ground, which tends to be early autumn.
Where do magic mushrooms grow?
Most varieties of magic mushrooms grow on pasture land. Because Devon is home to both the wilds of Dartmoor and Exmoor, there is plenty of wild and publicly accessible terrain where you’ll find magic mushrooms growing.
Typically, liberty caps like south facing pasture land that is well drained. In theory this means the side of a south facing hill which is usually home to sheep. The grass also tends to be relatively short – but not too short. This means you’ll often see liberty caps popping up around popular walking spots on Dartmoor, such as Two Bridges and Princetown – pretty much any area where it’s not too boggy.
However they can also pop up on any well manicured grassland, such as playing fields, parks, industrial estates, golf courses and grass verges. Liberty caps also like to be sheltered from the elements so will often cluster on the edge of a bush, in clumps of thicker grass or hillocks, or in dips.
Other types of magic mushroom also grow in the UK including the psyilocybe fimetaria. This is often found growing out of horse or cow dung in the same areas as you might find liberty caps.
The fly agaric mushroom, which is the traditional red with white spots parasol, can be found in forested areas.
Other types of magic mushroom such as the wavy cap can also be found often growing in wood mulch or wood chip.
Foraging for magic mushrooms in Devon
If you’re considering looking for magic mushrooms in Devon or the UK, be aware that a lot of the terrain where they grow is private. Most fields are privately owned, so avoid trespassing as you can get in trouble with the law twice over.
Having said that, there are plenty of places around Devon where magic mushrooms grow in easily accessible spaces. You don’t need to climb fences or scare a farmers sheep to find a good haul of liberty caps.
If you want to know where magic mushrooms might be growing, there is also the magic mushroom map. However this doesn’t actually tell you where they’ll grow, but simply the right conditions for them to grow.
The trick is to find an area where the conditions are right and then find terrain which fits the ideal profile. Simply taking a country walk is often a very good way to spot liberty caps as they can be easily spotted in autumn.
The dangers of mushroom foraging
One of the main problems with hunting for mushrooms of any type is the dangers of mis-identifying species. Pretty much every mushroom variety has a number of different mushrooms that look the same. Some of these can be toxic, causing stomach upsets or even worse, potentially death.
In short, if you’re going foraging for mushrooms make sure to do your research or ideally take someone who knows their mushrooms. NEVER consume mushrooms that you aren’t 100% sure of.
Also did you know there are many mind altering plants in the UK that are totally legal?
Going foraging? Get a good mushroom guide to help you – the Collins Guide is an excellent pocket sized book that gives great detail on various mushrooms, including magic mushrooms.
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