How To Tell Between Cubensis And Amanita

As a mushroom enthusiast, I know how important it is to be able to differentiate between different species, especially when it comes to the coveted psilocybin-containing cubensis and the poisonous amanita. Let’s delve into the key characteristics that can help you tell the difference between the two.

Cubensis: The Psychedelic Powerhouse

Psilocybe cubensis, also known as the golden teacher, is a potent species of psychedelic mushroom. They are typically found in warm, humid climates and are known for their distinct caramel-colored cap with a white or light yellowish stem. The gills underneath the cap are dark purple to black, especially when the mushroom reaches maturity.

Amanita: The Deceptive Beauty

In contrast, Amanita species like the infamous Amanita muscaria, are known for their iconic red cap with white spots. They are visually striking and are commonly associated with fairy tales and folklore. However, many Amanita species are poisonous, containing toxins that can cause serious harm if ingested.

Spotting the Differences

When identifying cubensis, look for the caramel-colored cap, the dark purple to black gills, and the tendency to grow in warm, humid environments, often on substrates like cow dung or in grassy fields. On the other hand, Amanita mushrooms with their red cap and white spots are easily recognizable, but remember that not all Amanitas have this classic appearance. Some can be yellow, orange, or brown, so it’s important to look at other distinguishing features.

One key feature to look for with Amanita mushrooms is the presence of a volva, which is a sac-like structure at the base of the stem. This is a crucial characteristic to check for, as it is absent in cubensis. Additionally, Amanita species have white gills, as opposed to the dark gills of cubensis.

My Personal Tips

Having spent countless hours foraging for mushrooms, I’ve learned that it’s essential to be thorough in your examination. Take the time to carefully observe the color, shape, and surrounding environment of the mushroom. Utilize field guides and consult with experienced foragers to enhance your knowledge and ensure accurate identification.


Distinguishing between cubensis and amanita mushrooms is a critical skill for any mushroom enthusiast. The unique visual characteristics and environmental preferences of each species provide valuable clues for identification. However, it’s always important to exercise caution and never consume any mushroom unless you are absolutely certain of its identity. Happy foraging!