Gymnopilus junonius: The Ultimate Mushroom Guide
About The Gymnopilus junonius Mushroom
Gymnopilus junonius is a species of mushroom in the Cortinariaceae family.
Commonly known as Laughing Gym, Laughing Jim, Spectacular rustgill.
This large inedible orange mushroom is typically found growing on tree stumps, logs, or tree bases. Some subspecies of this mushroom contain the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin.
This species was formerly known as Gymnopilus spectabilis, or Pholiota spectabilis v. junonia (Fr.) J.E Lange. The 'Gymn' in the present nomen means 'naked', and 'Juno' was the wife of Jupiter.
In Japan this mushroom is called waraitake, which translates to "laughing mushroom"
The cap ranges from 7 to 20 cm across, is convex, and is bright orange, orange/brown, or reddish-brown with a dry scaly surface. The stem is 25 to 265 mm long, 8 to 9 mm thick, and often narrows near the base. Each mushroom can weigh several pounds.
The frail ring is dusted with rusty orange spores, the flesh is yellow and the gill attachment to the stem is adnate to sub-decurrent.
It has a bitter taste, stains red with KOH and turns green when cooked in a pan.
Gymnopilus junonius Look-Alikes
The cap diameter of Gymnopilus junonius usually ranges from 4 to 20 cm, although exceptional specimens to 30cm are encountered occasionally; initially convex with an in-rolled margin, it eventually flattens but often retains a slight umbo (central raised area).
Radial orange or apricot-colored fibers on a yellow or sienna background give the cap of the Spectacular Rustgill an overall golden appearance, which darkens towards orange-brown as the fruitbody ages.
The color of the cap flesh is cream to straw-yellow, and it is firm and quite thick.
A yellow cortina covers the gills of the immature fruit bodies, breaking and shriveling to leave fragments around the rim of the cap and the stipe.
The crowded gills of Gymnopilus junonius are adnate with a broad attachment to the stipe. They are straw yellow to buff at first, changing to a bright rusty color as the spores mature.
The robust stipe of the Spectacular Rustgill is the same color as the cap; its surface is fibrous below the ring, which soon gathers spores and turns rusty brown.
At the base, the stipe is either bulbous or clavate (club-shaped), and the stem is solid with yellow flesh.
Similar Species of The Gymnopilus junonius
This mushroom is often mistaken for Gymnopilus ventricosus, which contains no psilocybin. Distribution and habitat Gymnopilus junonius is a very widely distributed mushroom which grows in dense clusters on dead hardwoods and conifers. This mushroom grows just about everywhere that decaying wood can be found.
Gymnopilus junonius Health Benefits
This large fleshy mushroom looks tasty, but please don't treat it as a 'Golden Delicious', because it is inedible. Several authorities (including Tom Volk) state that specimens from various parts of the world have been found to contain toxins, including the hallucinogens psilocybin and psilobin. The common names Laughing Jack and Laughing Jim (or Gym) have been given to this toxic toadstool because of its hallucinogenic properties.
This mushroom has subspecies which contain the hallucinogen psilocybin. Specimens found in the eastern US or Japan are more likely to contain psilocybin than similar mushrooms found in the western part of the US or Europe. This mushroom contains bis-noryangonin and hispidine, which are structurally related to alpha-pyrones found in kava.
This wild mushroom lacks evidence of scientific study and an attempt was made to elucidate its antibacterial activity, antioxidant potential (DPPH and Nitric oxide methods) and identify the phytoconstituents present in it. Methanol extract showed the best activity against Enterococcus faecalis, Eggerthella lenta and Vibrio parahaemolyticus than the standard antibiotic amoxicillin.
Psilocybin is being studied for its potential to treat various conditions such as anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and problematic drug use. It is important to note that these studies administered purified active ingredients, i.e. psilocybin, in clinically supervised settings.
Gymnopilus junonius Side Effects
Using magic mushrooms like Gymnopilus junonius can lead to short-term mental and physical effects.
Emotions and senses may be heightened, and people may feel happy and creative. They may laugh or giggle a lot, and experience a sense of mental and emotional clarity.
Magic mushrooms can also cause hallucinations and affect people by:
Distorting their sense of reality (they see and hear things that are not there).
Mixing up their senses (they believe they can see music or hear colors).
Altering their sense of time.
Changes in mood.
Anxiety and panic attacks.
Confusion and disorientation.
Fear or paranoia.
Numbness, particularly in the face.
Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Dry mouth, sometimes leading to nausea and vomiting.
Muscle weakness and twitching, or convulsions.
Sweating and high body temperature, often followed by chills and shivering.
Loss of urinary control.
Risks related to recreational use of "magic mushrooms".
What is commonly known as a "bad trip" may occur, particularly at high doses. These experiences may be frightening and may include paranoia, loss of boundaries and a distorted sense of self. Impaired judgment during these "bad trips" may lead to risk-taking behavior, traumatic injuries and even death.
In certain cases, users may experience frequent or overly intense psychedelic events that may induce abrupt "flashbacks", i.e. reliving the previous experience.
The co-use of magic mushrooms with substances such as cannabis and amphetamines elevates the risks of side effects.
Gymnopilus junonius Classification
Gymnopilus was proposed as a new genus name in 1879 by the Finnish mycologist Petter Adolf Karsten (1834 - 1917).
The origin of this generic name is the prefix Gymn – meaning naked, and the suffix -pilus which means cap - hence naked or bald caps would be an expected feature of the mushrooms in this genus.
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