Home ARTS & CULTUREFOOD Two New Psychoactive Mushroom Species Discovered In Southern Africa

Two New Psychoactive Mushroom Species Discovered In Southern Africa

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Two new species of psychoactive mushrooms in the genus Psilocybe have been discovered in Southern Africa, increasing the known indigenous species to six.

Stellenbosch University (SU) announced on Thursday that the Psilocybe genus, with approximately 140 described species worldwide, is among the most well-known and studied psychoactive mushrooms.

The two newly identified species, Psilocybe ingeli and Psilocybe maluti, were detailed in a paper published this week in the journal Mycologia.

Psilocybe ingeli was first discovered in 2023 in pastureland in KwaZulu-Natal by Talan Moult, a self-taught citizen mycologist. Psilocybe maluti was first found on a smallholding in the Free State in 2021 by Daniella Mulder, who sent photos of the mushrooms to Andrew Killian, one of the country’s leading citizen mycologists based in Somerset West, for identification. The specimens were subsequently sent for DNA sequencing and analysis at SU’s Department of Microbiology.

The paper also highlighted the traditional use of Psilocybe maluti by Basotho healers in Lesotho, marking the “only recorded first-hand report of hallucinogenic mushrooms being used traditionally in Africa.” Cullen Taylor Clark, a citizen mycologist and co-author, collaborated with Mamosebetsi Sethathi, a Mosotho traditional healer, to document the use of Psilocybe maluti (locally known as koae-ea-lekhoaba) in traditional healing practices.

Breyten van der Merwe, a postgraduate student in chemical engineering at SU, trained mycologist, and first author of the paper, said: “These two species were sent to me by citizen scientists. It would be impossible for a single researcher to cover a fraction of the area these mushroom enthusiasts have access to. This is the only way we will be able to further studies in African mycology.”

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