How To Tell Between Cubensis And Amanita Brunnescens

When it comes to mushroom hunting, being able to accurately identify different species is crucial for safety and enjoyment. One common comparison that many foragers face is distinguishing between the Psilocybe cubensis (commonly known as the “cubensis”) and the Amanita brunnescens (also known as the “mushroom of the woods”). These two mushrooms may seem similar at first glance, but there are key differences that can help differentiate between the two.

Distinguishing Features

One of the most noticeable differences between the cubensis and the amanita brunnescens is their physical appearance. The cubensis typically has a distinct conical or bell-shaped cap with a prominent nipple-like protrusion. Its coloration can range from light tan to dark brown, often with a visible layer of white veil remnants on the cap. On the other hand, the amanita brunnescens has a light brown to dark brown cap, which can sometimes resemble the classic “toadstool” shape. It may also have remnants of a universal veil, often visible as patches or warts on the cap.

Underneath the Cap

When examining the gills, the differences become even more apparent. The cubensis features dark purple-brown to black colored gills, while the amanita brunnescens has white or cream-colored gills. Additionally, the spore print of the cubensis will be purple-brown, while the amanita brunnescens will produce a white spore print.

Stem Structure

Looking at the stems of these mushrooms can also aid in identification. The cubensis typically has a long, slender, and often hollow stem, which may feature a distinctive bluing reaction when bruised. In contrast, the amanita brunnescens has a stout and often bulbous stem, with a delicate ring or skirt near the top. The base of the stem is usually surrounded by a sac-like structure called a volva, which is a defining characteristic of Amanita species.

In the Wild

When encountering these mushrooms in their natural habitat, pay attention to their surroundings. The cubensis is commonly found growing on or near animal feces in warm, humid environments, often in grassy areas or disturbed soils. The amanita brunnescens, as its nickname suggests, tends to favor wooded areas, appearing near trees and amidst leaf litter.

Cautionary Note

It’s important to note that while the cubensis is well-known for its psychoactive properties, the amanita brunnescens is not considered safe for consumption and can be toxic if ingested. Always exercise caution and consult with an experienced mycologist or reliable resources before consuming any wild mushrooms.


Distinguishing between the cubensis and the amanita brunnescens requires a keen eye and careful observation. By paying attention to the details of their caps, gills, stems, and natural habitats, foragers can confidently differentiate between these two distinct mushroom species. Remember, when in doubt, it’s best to leave the mushroom undisturbed and seek guidance from knowledgeable experts. Happy hunting, and may your foraging adventures be filled with delightful discoveries!