If you’ve taken magic mushrooms, it’s most likely you’ve consumed the UK’s native wild-growing Liberty Caps, aka Psilocybe semilanceata, or one of the commonly cultivated Psilocybe cubensis strains such as Golden Teachers. Amongst mushroom grower and psilonaut circles, another species of psychedelic mushroom is having a moment in the spotlight. Psilocybe natalensis (sometimes known as “NSS” or “Natal Super Strength”) is making waves amongst those in the know… and for good reason. Discovered in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa in 1995 and inhabiting dry grasslands in this region, genetic sequencing has revealed it to be a closely related sister species to Psilocybe cubensis, which it closely resembles in appearance. But it is the tenacity and effects of this species that has mushroom aficionados excited. A boon for beginner growers Like P. cubensis, P. natalensis is an easily grown species that grows quickly, producing bountiful yields of mushrooms, and can be cultivated in the same way using the same techniques and substrates. One major bonus of growing P. natalensis is that it is known to have particularly aggressive and contamination-resistant mycelium, and more so than P. cubensis. While P. cubensis is a tenacious and forgiving species, moulds can rapidly spell doom to a fruiting flush of the fungus. A more resilient and contamination-resistant species such as P. natalensis could be a boon for beginner cultivators, among whom contamination is the number one cause of cultivation failures. It also appears to be tolerant of low temperatures, colonising substrate and fruiting at 62° F/16.6° C. While a great choice for beginner growers, it should not be overlooked by experienced growers either. Cultivation tips Some growers think P. natalensis may benefit from a little more fresh air exchange than P. cubensis during fruiting. While a casing layer is optional for fruiting (much like P. cubensis) some growers have reported higher yields when applying a casing layer when fruiting P. natalensis. This species is known to produce thick mycelium overlay, and some cultivators have reported that if the grain spawn to substrate ratios are changed from the more typical 1:3 ratio used with P. cubensis to about 1:6, it can help reduce this overlay which can support fruiting. Fruiting P natalensis in a monotub A glittering psychedelic jewel The general consensus among growers who have sampled both species is that P. natalensis tends to be more potent than P. cubensis (normally testing in the range of 0.7-1.3% alkaloids) although both species are known to vary in potency. Potency aside, many testimonials from people who have sampled P. natalensis attribute distinct qualities to this mushroom, often comparing it favourably to P. cubensis. While the effects of psilocybin mushrooms depend on many factors, such as dosage and set and setting, the jury is still out on the possible modulating influence of other secondary compounds in these mushrooms. P. natalensis is my favorite mushroom to trip with. In my experience, the onset is more gentle... the visuals are unbelievably colorful and clear However, psilonauts who have sampled it often describe P. natalensis as having very little to no body load, and being smoother on the system than P. cubensis. A smoother coming-up period is often reported, along with a cleaner/clearer headspace. People also commonly report a more positive, upbeat and euphoric headspace and a “friendlier” experience when comparing it to P. cubensis. Some people also prefer using P. natalensis for microdosing over P. cubensis. These testimonials highlight some of the sentiments psilonauts have expressed having sampled P. natalensis when comparing them to P. cubensis (cubes): “I can only compare them to APE , and I prefer these. I guess you could say they're about equal in strength, but they give me a whole different level of trip. If cubes are 3D, Natalensis are 4D.” “P. natalensis is my favorite mushroom to trip with. In my experience, the onset is more gentle than cubes (less anxiety). The visuals are unbelievably colorful and clear, compared to P. cubensis.” “Cubes have an edge and a dark side that make me wary. But Nats are kinder to me. I did get paranoid one time on a higher dose but it was much more manageable than with cubes.” “Natalensis is as easy to grow as cubensis but stronger and seems to be a happier experience for most.” “I tend to be happier on Nats. They seem less edgy to me .” “Will never eat another regular cube again after eating these lol love to grow them as well.” “After Natalensis, I'll rarely touch a Cubensis again save for microdosing.” Anti-inflammatory potential Aside from its psychoactive alkaloids, P. natalensis has been chemically profiled and found to contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Some anecdotal accounts suggest that the anti-inflammatory qualities of P. natalensis may warrant further attention: "Anecdotally I will agree that the anti-inflammatory properties of Nats are amazing. More research needed." What does the future hold for this species? A thread on the Shroomery has documented people’s experiences cultivating and sampling the species. Some cultivators mused: “I wouldn't be surprised if Natalensis becomes the most common cultivated species within the next 5-10 years, lots of cloning/isolates needed to dial in specific phenos but yeah, IMHO it's far superior.” Given its forgiving and vigorous nature and cherished qualities, P. natalensis is ripe for further cloning/isolation work to dial in specific phenotypes. Much like P. cubensis before it, the species will likely take on a myriad of different cultivars in the coming years, with some already starting to emerge such as low-spore, black caps, green caps and squats. Experimentation is also underway with attempts to produce P. cubensis and P. natalensis hybrids, with cultivars such as yellow umbo and bifrost being produced. In the ever-shifting world of psilocybin mushroom cultivation, P. natalensis may be the most important psilocybin mushroom to arrive on the scene since P. cubensis, sharing some of the same qualities with this species that made it so ideal for domestication and home cultivation, while also possessing some standalone qualities of its own. The ease of growing P. natalensis, along with its tenacity, rapid growth, bountiful yields, resistance to contamination, tolerance to low temperatures and revered experiential qualities make this a species worthy of much more attention, particularly for the beginner grower.