Have you heard of the B+ mushroom? No, that’s not a letter grade — for those of you whose interests have been drawn to the wide world of Psilocybe cubensis spores in recent years, the B+ mushroom name may not carry the same weight for you as it has for those whose tenure extends back to the vegetative stage of internet mushroom discussion.
All the way back in 1999, in the (relatively) early days of the internet, a user on the Shroomery forum by the name of “Mr. G” was a regular contributor and the proprietor of a spore vendor known as Foggy Mountain Farms (fmfarms.com – now defunct, with the name belonging to a quaint livestock farm in Virginia). Mr. G’s last post on the forum was in 2002, and his account has since been banned; his posts on the forum contain some colourful language, with his last post on the contentious subject of the B+ mushroom ending in 206 (!) exclamation points. According to the now ancient mythology of B+ shrooms, Mr. G was the originator of this ‘strain’ and claimed that it was a cross between a Psilocybe cubensis and Psilocybe azurescens. This claim has been widely disputed and/or debunked, evidently much to Mr. G’s chagrin. But why is this such a radical claim on his part? Why is it impossible (?) for the B+ mushroom to have been a cross between a cube and an azure?
This subject takes us into an area of mycology and mushroom discussion which has thrived amongst some communities and waned almost completely in others, although it is a very interesting subject. (Much of this information is courtesy of the extensive knowledge compiled by Shroomery user Rose.)
Some basic biology to start with: the names “Psilocybe cubensis” and “Psilocybe azurescens” are examples of binomial nomenclature (a “two-name naming system”). Each of these names represent both a genus (Psilocybe) and species (cubensis, azurescens, mexicana, etc.). Think of it like a family tree; Psilocybe cubensis is a member of the genus Psilocybe, while Psilocybe is a member of the family Hymenogastraceae; Hymenogastraceae a member of the order Agaricales, and so on. (The classification of “fungi” is all the way up at kingdom! That tells you how enormous the world of mycology really is.)
Below all of these levels of classification, we find the home of the B+ mushroom: the ‘strain’ (or, as Rose terms it, ‘race’ or ‘variety’) of B+ shrooms are one of many variations of the species Psilocybe cubensis. But, just like with humans, races can and do mix, and each person (like each mushroom) has a unique genetic code (like a unique spore print) — although the infinite variation of genetics is a spectrum, we see somewhat distinct characteristics amongst ethnic groups, just like we see in the variations of Psilocybe cubensis. You could call B+ mushrooms (or Golden Teacher mushrooms, or Penis Envy mushrooms, or Blue Meanies… you get the idea) a distinct ethnic group of the species Psilocybe cubensis.
But, in the words of Rose, trying to combine two different species of Psilocybe, cubensis and azurescens, would be like “successfully mating a human with a gorilla.” We may share some important characteristics with our distant primate cousins, but the idea of producing (healthy) offspring from such a union… is a pretty far-fetched one (and I would hope no one would want to try…).
So, while we can thank Mr. G for his contribution to the colourful spectrum of cubensis varieties (or strains — language changes, after all), we don’t necessarily have to believe everything he says. Who knows, maybe he has cooked up some mad scientist experiments that no one has seen the proof of yet… but I’ll wait until I see the spores under my microscope to believe it.