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Foraging Harm Reduction

On this page, you'll find information to try to help keep yourself out of harm's way as much as possible when foraging for active fungi in NZ. Safe and responsible foraging and identification are of utmost importance if you are going to attempt to partake in the collection of mushrooms containing psilocybin or other active compounds. 

This page is not to be taken as stand-alone advice but is to be read in conjunction with the information found on our other pages in the "Harm Reduction" drop-down menu, to better facilitate safer practices.

Mushrooms that contain psilocybin are classified as a Class A substance in NZ. Possession of mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin (the compounds which cause their psychedelic effects) risks six months in prison. Cultivating or supplying them is risking lifetime imprisonment.

Psilocybe subaeruginosa vs Galerina sp. comparison image showing how hard it can be to distinguish between the two.


Properly identifying and thoroughly researching mushrooms before consumption is of paramount importance to ensure safety and avoid potentially toxic lookalikes. Many edible and psychoactive mushrooms have toxic counterparts that closely resemble them, making accurate identification crucial. Mistaking a toxic mushroom for an edible or psychedelic one can lead to severe illness, organ damage, or even be life-threatening. Take the time to educate yourself on the distinct features, growth patterns, and habitat of the mushrooms you intend to consume. Utilize reputable field guides or consult with experienced mycologists to enhance your identification skills. Additionally, double-check your findings through multiple reliable sources and online communities dedicated to mushroom identification. Remember, it is better to err on the side of caution and abstain from consuming a mushroom unless you are absolutely 100% certain of the species' identity and safety, double check ALL of your finds again when you get home, if in doubt throw it out. Prioritizing accurate identification and thorough research is an essential aspect of harm reduction when it comes to foraging and consuming mushrooms. Click below to learn about the most common lookalikes for NZ actives and what their distinguishing features are...

Upper two photos are Psilocybe subaeruginosa, lower two photos are Galerina marginata. These 4 images show how important it is to learn the features that tell them apart from each other.

Spray In Public Patches

Consuming psychoactive fungi foraged from public areas poses additional risks, especially if herbicide contamination is a concern. Herbicides often contain a blue spray marker dye that aids in identifying the areas where the chemicals have been applied. Unfortunately, this blue dye can be easily mistaken for the characteristic blue staining found in mushrooms containing psilocybin. Mistaking blue-dyed herbicide residue for psilocybin-induced blue staining can lead to severe consequences such as eating a toxic mushroom that could potentially be fatal. Herbicides are not meant for human consumption and can introduce toxic substances into your system. Ingesting herbicide-contaminated mushrooms can result in adverse health effects, ranging from mild symptoms like gastrointestinal distress to more serious complications. To prioritize harm reduction, it is crucial to exercise extreme caution when foraging psychoactive fungi in public areas. Always be aware of the potential presence of herbicide contamination, and if in doubt, it is best to abstain from consuming mushrooms that may have been exposed to herbicides to safeguard your health and well-being. 

Determining whether an area in a public bush has been sprayed with herbicide can be challenging if no spray marker dye has been used. However, there are some signs you can look for to assess the potential risk. Firstly, observe the vegetation around the area. If there is a noticeable absence of weeds, grasses, or other plants, it may indicate recent herbicide application. Additionally, look for any signs or notices indicating herbicide use, such as warning signs or markings. It is also important to pay attention to any unusual changes in the appearance or condition of nearby plants or foliage, such as wilting, discoloration, or abnormal growth patterns. If you are uncertain or have any doubts about the safety of foraging in a specific area, it is best to err on the side of caution and seek alternative locations for obtaining mushrooms to minimize the potential risks associated with herbicide contamination.

Photo: Toxic Galerina sp. sprayed with herbicide and marker dye.

Toxic Galerina sp. sprayed with herbicide and marker dye, showing how it can be easy to misidentify a toxic species as something you might be looking for when looking with wishful thinking.
Toxic Leratiomyces ceres growing in clusters with Psilocybe subaeruginosa, showing the importance of positively identifying everyhing in your haul and also of keeping the act of picking and consuming entirely separate


The practice of "grazing," or consuming psychoactive fungi while foraging, poses significant risks and is strongly discouraged. Engaging in such behavior means being under the influence of mind-altering substances, which can impair judgment and perception. This impaired state increases the likelihood of misidentifying mushrooms and accidentally ingesting toxic species. Distinguishing between different mushroom species, especially those that closely resemble one another, requires focused attention and knowledge. Consuming unidentified mushrooms can lead to severe illness, organ damage, or even be life-threatening. To prioritize safety, it is essential to separate the act of foraging from the act of consuming. Collect mushrooms first, carefully identify them using reliable sources or consult with experts, and only consume mushrooms that are confidently recognized as safe and non-toxic. By maintaining clarity of mind during the foraging process, you can reduce the risk of accidental ingestion and promote a safer psychedelic experience.

Photo: Toxic Leratiomyces ceres growing in clusters together with Psilocybe subaeruginosa


It is of utmost importance to 100% correctly identify any fungi you intend to consume, especially when it comes to psilocybe lookalike species like Galerina sp., to avoid the presence of dangerous amatoxins. Amatoxins are highly toxic compounds found in certain mushrooms, including some Galerina species, and they can have severe and potentially fatal effects on the liver and other organs. These toxins are not destroyed by cooking or drying, making accurate identification essential for harm reduction. Differentiating between psilocybe mushrooms and their toxic lookalikes requires careful examination of key features, such as cap shape, gill color, stem characteristics, and spore print color. Consulting reputable field guides, mycologists, or experienced foragers can provide valuable guidance in correctly identifying mushrooms. Remember, the consequences of misidentifying and consuming toxic species can be fatal, so prioritize diligent research and accurate identification to ensure a safe and enjoyable psychedelic experience.

Galerina sp. and Psilocybe sp. comparison image showin the annulus on the galerina and spore deposit on the veil remnant giving the appearance of an annulus on the Psilocybe
When is it a psychedlic or fungi related emergency? When you should consider calling an ambulance when consuming fungi that could potentially be toxic.

When is it an Emergency?


  • severe abdominal pain

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea and dehydration

  • convulsions/seizures

  • delirium

  • loss of consciousness


If you think you have potentially ingested a toxic mushroom, go to A&E immediately, even if you have vomited the mushrooms back up. You will most likely require liver tests if it is believed that you've consumed a toxic mushroom.

Try to bring a sample of the mushrooms consumed with you to A&E if possible. Taking photos of the mushrooms that you are about to consume, before consumption, can be an aid to medical professionals in the instance that you do end up falling ill from consuming toxic fungi.

Decay and Rot - Food poisoning

Consuming wild foraged fungi that have begun to rot or decay carries significant risks of food poisoning or botulism. As mushrooms deteriorate, harmful bacteria can proliferate, leading to foodborne illnesses. Symptoms of food poisoning can range from mild gastrointestinal discomfort to more severe cases of vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. Botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by the toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum bacteria, can also be a concern when consuming spoiled mushrooms. Botulism can lead to muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, respiratory issues, and in severe cases paralysis or even death. While you may get away with consuming decayed fungi after dehydrating them cracker dry in most cases, the best way to reduce the risk of these illnesses is to only consume fresh, clean, healthy mushrooms and to avoid any specimens that show signs of rotting, mold, or decay. Proper identification, knowledge, and cautious harvesting practices are crucial when foraging for wild mushrooms to ensure your safety and well-being. Think about it like this: would you pick it off the shelf at the supermarket looking like that? Or would you bypass it for a better fruit?

Decaying Psilocybe subaeruginosa
The importance of taking friends when meeting strangers to ensure safety and good times when foraging for mushrooms with hunting buddies from hunting boards.

Stranger Danger-Safe Foraging

When arranging to meet new people from hunting buddy boards for the purpose of foraging mushrooms, it is crucial for both parties to prioritize safety by bringing a friend along for the initial meeting. Meeting strangers in person, even in the context of a shared interest, carries inherent risks. Having a trusted friend present provides an extra layer of security and support. This way, you can look out for each other's well-being, assess the situation together, and deter any potential risks. Additionally, inform someone you trust about your plans, including the meeting location, time, and the individuals involved. Share relevant contact information and establish regular check-ins during the meeting. Trust your instincts and if anything feels off or uncomfortable, it's better to prioritize your safety and leave the situation. By taking these precautionary measures, both parties can engage in a safer and more secure foraging experience while building a sense of trust and camaraderie.

Stranger Danger-Safe Sourcing

When it comes to purchasing psychoactive mushrooms, it is of utmost importance to prioritize trust in the source and their knowledge level. Identifying dried mushrooms can be challenging, even for an experienced individual, and especially for inexperienced individuals. That's why it is highly recommended to learn how to identify and pick your mushrooms instead of relying on potentially unidentifiable products from unknown sources. Purchasing from strangers on social media accounts is particularly risky as it often leads to scams or unreliable products. By developing your knowledge and expertise in mushroom identification, you can ensure the quality, safety, and authenticity of the mushrooms you consume. Remember, the responsibility for your well-being lies in your own hands, so take the time to educate yourself and seek reliable sources for a safer and more enjoyable psychedelic experience.

Buying psychoactive fungi from social media is almost ALWAYS a scam, and is unsafe as it is harder to identify already-dried fungi. Learn safer ways to source and identify fungi that you are potentially going to consume at Psilver Linings NZ
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