During hallucinations with magic mushrooms, you can see the most beautiful colors. But mushrooms themselves can also show a special color, which can happen when you bruise them. When you firmly grasp or pick a magic mushroom, a striking blue color appears. Many home growers wonder where this blue color comes from. It turns out that psilocybin is the cause of this. In this blog, read more about why mushrooms turn blue when they bruise.
Psilocybin in magic mushrooms: a mystery solved
If you grow mushrooms at home with a grow kit, you’ve probably observed the phenomenon of your mushrooms turning blue. If you’ve done a quick internet search, you’ll soon find out that that easily happens when you bruise or damage mushrooms. It can happen, for example, when picking.
There are several mushrooms in which this occurs. Mushrooms of the boletales family also have this, but there oxidized gyrocyanin is the source of the blue color. This is not the case with magic mushrooms, or psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. In magic mushrooms, it is caused by oxidized psilocybin. But how that works and why it actually happens was a mystery until now.
Scientists in Germany wanted to find out the mechanism behind this phenomenon. Dirk Hoffmeister of the Hans Knöll Institut delved into this mystery of magic mushrooms with his colleagues. The blue pigment appears to be not just a single substance, but a complex mixture of linked psilocybin oxidation products. Most are quinoid psilocyle oligomers. These are fabrics similar to indigo, a deep blue pigment used to dye jeans.
The chemical background of blue-colored mushrooms
How mushrooms turn blue when you bruise them is a complicated chemical story. We try to describe it as simply as possible. Six pigments were identified by the scientists, all of which arise as a result of a cascade reaction beginning with psilocybin. Enzymes are involved in this. The moment a mushroom becomes damaged or bruised, an enzyme (which scientists call PsiP) causes psilocybin to be converted to psilocin. In this conversion, PsiP chops off a piece of phosphorus from the psilocybin molecule.
Next, a second enzyme called PsiL is involved in the process. This removes an electron from psilocin. This makes psilocin molecules want to come together and make a connection with each other. Larger psilocin molecules are formed, which then lose an atom of hydrogen. This is the reason mushrooms turn blue when you bruise them.
This may still be hard to follow. But a fun fact is that in our bodies too, enzymes play an important role in the digestion of magic mushrooms (and other foods). When you eat a magic mushroom, the psilocybin you ingest is also converted, with the help of enzymes, into psilocin. This allows us to experience its mind-altering effects.
Why do mushrooms turn blue?
While the process of turning blue has now been explained, that does not yet answer the question of why mushrooms turn blue. This is actually still a mystery even now, the scientists indicate. The hypothesis is that it has a protective function. Thus, it could have a repulsive effect against predators. It could be that the substances could produce reactive oxygen compounds, which could be toxic to insects that want to eat from the mushrooms.
Actually, this is similar to the reason mushrooms produce psilocybin. That too was basically a mystery, because magic mushrooms do not produce this substance to please people. Although we can have a lot of fun with it. Research seems to indicate that psilocybin is not toxic to insects, but that it reduces their appetite. As a result, they may take a few tasty bites, but will soon stop eating. And that, of course, is for the good of the mushroom.
So through the effects of psilocybin, the mushroom has two ways to defend itself: the substance itself that reduces the appetite of predatory insects and the blue discoloration, which can potentially be deadly to insects.
The bluer, the stronger the mushroom?
Do your mushrooms turn blue after you pick them? You may have noticed that some mushroom varieties turn bluer than others. The more psilocybin a mushroom contains, the stronger the blue color will become. However, that does not directly say anything about how powerful the mushroom is. By turning blue, some of the mind-altering substance is lost. The very magic mushrooms in your grow kit that do not turn blue will contain more psilocybin. So the key is to handle your mushrooms carefully and try to avoid bruising and turning blue.
And just so you know, turning mushrooms blue is not harmful to you and they can still be used.