Two new species of Psilocybe mushrooms found in southern Africa

Two new species of Psilocybe mushrooms discovered in southern Africa
Psilocybe maluti was discovered rising in pastureland on cow manure within the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces of South Africa, in addition to the highlands of Lesotho. Credit score: Cullen Taylor Clark

Two new species of psychoactive mushrooms within the genus Psilocybe have been described from southern Africa, bringing the record to 6 identified species indigenous to Africa. Psilocybe species are among the many most well-known and well-studied species of psychoactive mushrooms on the planet, with round 140 described species.

In a paper revealed within the journal Mycologia this week, researchers from Stellenbosch College (SU) and citizen mycologists describe the 2 new species as Psilocybe ingeli and Psilocybe maluti.

Psilocybe ingeli was first present in 2023 rising in pastureland in KwaZulu-Natal by Talan Moult, a self-taught citizen mycologist. Psilocybe maluti was first discovered on a Free State small holding in 2021 by Daniella Mulder, who despatched pictures of the mushrooms for identification to Andrew Killian, certainly one of South Africa’s main citizen mycologists, primarily based in Somerset West.

In each situations, the unusual-looking specimens have been despatched to Breyten van der Merwe for DNA sequencing and evaluation within the lab of Prof. Karin Jacobs in SU’s Division of Microbiology. Van der Merwe, now a postgraduate scholar in chemical engineering at SU, is a skilled mycologist and first writer of the paper.

Two new species of Psilocybe mushrooms discovered in southern Africa
A single assortment of Psilocybe ingeli was present in KwaZulu-Natal, rising in pasture land. Credit score: Talan Moult

The paper additionally comprises info on the standard use of P. maluti by Basotho conventional healers from the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. In response to the researchers, this seems to be the one recorded first-hand report of hallucinogenic mushrooms getting used historically in Africa.

Cullen Taylor Clark, a citizen mycologist and co-author, labored with Mamosebetsi Sethathi, a Mosotho conventional healer, to doc using P. maluti (regionally often called koae-ea-lekhoaba) in conventional therapeutic practices. This types half of a bigger effort, led by Clark, to doc using mushrooms by indigenous teams in southern Africa.

Van der Merwe says there are very probably extra southern African species on this genus, and that extra citizen scientists have to turn out to be concerned: “These two species have been despatched to me by citizen scientists. It will be not possible for a single researcher to cowl a fraction of an space these mushroom lovers have entry to. That is the one method we can additional research in African mycology.”

Prof. Jacobs echoes this sentiment, remarking, “There are solely a handful of mycologists in Africa documenting native biodiversity. Contemplating the huge mycological range on the continent, it’s a daunting process. Collaborating with citizen mycologists is subsequently massively useful. Along with extra materials, collaboration additionally opens avenues for dialog and exploration, which may result in documenting mycophilia (the love of mushrooms) on the African continent.”

Extra info:
B. van der Merwe et al, An outline of two novel Psilocybe species from southern Africa and a few notes on African conventional hallucinogenic mushroom use, Mycologia (2024). DOI: 10.1080/00275514.2024.2363137

Two new species of Psilocybe mushrooms found in southern Africa (2024, July 2)
retrieved 2 July 2024

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