Revised Jamuary 8, 2005; October 14, 2007 and April 4, 2013.
Copyright 1998-2013 by John W. Allen.

Panaeolus sphinctrinus (Fr.) Quél.[syn.=Panaeolus papilionaceus].


Cap: (1)2-5(6) cm broad. Obtusely conic becoming campanulate with age. Edges of margins are decorated with tooth-like-geared remnants of a partial veil, and sometimes with an obtused umbo. Color is brownish to reddish-brown and sometimes looking black and fading to a tawny color in age., somewhat hygrophanous but not always. Suface is smooth becoming pitted and cracked in age.

Gills:Adnexed and seceding from the stem, close to subdistant and moderately broad with 1-2 tiers of intermediate gills. Color is grayish at first, becoming mottled with age.

Stem:60-40 mm long by 1.5-3.5 (5) mm thick. Equal, tubular, fibrous and slightly striate towards the apex. Overall color of the stem is brownish under a grayish pruinose surface and to a reddish brown in drying.

Spores:15-18 x 10-12 microns. Ovoid to lemon-shaped.

Sporeprint: Black in deposit.

Habitat:Scattered to gregarious in the manure of four-legged ruminants (cattle, gaur, water buffalo and horse. In manured composts at riding stables and racetracks.

Distribution:Cosmopolitan throughout North America and temperate zones of the world.

Season:Most common in the autumn months in the USA and spring and fall in most regions of the world and/or during and after rainy seasons.

Dosage:This species is not psychoactive.

Comment:Ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes had collected this species in Oaxaca in the middle and/or late 1930s. He originally described it as a species used by the Mazatecs in divinitory ceremonies and rituals; noting that it was a sacred mushroom of Mexico. Schultes' notes on specimens stored on a single herbarium sheet confused Dr. Rolf Singer when he incvestigated this species in 1958. It seems that Dr. Schultes had identified one of his collections as Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus, a possible divinatory mushroom. However, Singer then wrote that "the genus of Panaeolus was not used by the Mazatec Indians of the Huautla region either for magico-religious ceremonies or as a sacrament in shamanic healings." Additionally, Singer and Smith in their monograph in Mycologia volume 50, wrote, "we must insist, that the phenomena which belonged in the class of cerebral mycetism in the terminology of Ford (1923), and not fully identified (Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus) but Schultes, in his 1939 and 1940 papers, noted that the effects of Panaeolus sphinctrinus were comparable with the hallucinatory-euphoric and lasting effects which have been described in literature as belonging to and coming from certain mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe. Aside from that we feel for certain that Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus is not now and never has been used as a drug catalyst for divinatory purposes or religious ceremonies by present day Indians in Mesoamerica", nor was it used as a sacrament by their pre-Colombian ancestors.
In 1978 Schultes wrote that "Wasson and Heim, and Singer and Guzmán [all] failed to find Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus in use and, as a result, have assumed that it should not be included in the list of hallucinogenically used Mexican mushrooms." In 1963, French mycologist Roger Heim also asserted that "the Indians do not take Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus in their rituals", and in 1958 Dr. Rolf Singer, after one short field trip, categorically stated that "Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus is not used and perhaps, had been mistaken for Psilocybe mexicana Heim." In 1977, the noted Mexican authority on the sacred mushrooms of Mexico, Dr. Gastón Guzmán called Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus a "false teonanácatl".
Earlier in 1970, P. Antoine claimed that this belief has spread and still exists. However, eight years later in 1978, Dr. Singer still fostered his belief that no species of Panaeolus belongs to the group of Mexican hallucinogenic mushrooms which were known as teonanácatl. In 1979, Schultes wrote that "certain shamans and curanderas of the Mazatec and Chinantec Indians do employ the mushroom known as Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus in curative and divinatory ceremonies." These Panaeolus species are known to the Indians as tha-na-sa, shi-to and to-shka. They are bell-shaped or ovoid-campanulate shaped in the cap and appear to be yellowish-brown in color. Several of the early Spanish codices noted above that one of the yellow mushrooms described was called teonanácatl. The author also found these latter two epithets used by the Mazatec in describing Psilocybe mexicana.
Specimens of Panaeolus sprinctrinus collected in Mexico by French Canadian mycologist György Miklos-Ola'h in the spring of 1969 were found to contain psilocine and Ola'h classified this species as `latent' psilocybian.
However, as late as 1983, Guzmán still maintained that "in Mexico, no Panaeolus species is used as a sacred or divine mushroom among the Indians of Oaxaca, and that includes the Mazatec, Chatino, Zapotec, and Mixes, and of the Indians in the State of México, in spite of the fact that the species of Panaeolus are very common." Guzmán also maintains that the Mazatec Indians say that Panaeolus species are not good to eat ("son malos"--they are dangerous or poisonous). Panaeolus species were collected independently as one of the sacred hallucinogenic mushrooms by two groups of investigators, Weitlaner’s group and by Schultes and Reko. Previous chemical analyses of some of these collections by Tyler and Groger in 1964; Ola'h in 1970 and Ott in 1977 revealed that some species of Panaeolus and even Panaeolus campanulatus var. sprinctrinus allegedly contain the indole chemical psilocybine and psilocine. However, one should consider that in a single collection of a particular species, there may be more than two species represented---for example, one species might superficially resemble another, as in the case of Panaeolina foenisecii and Panaeolus subbalteatus, both of which resemble one another macroscopically. Just recently, Papaneolus sphintrinus has now been renamed as Panaeolus papilionaceus.

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