dating from of vernacular name "lyberty cap"

Moselio Schaechter mschaech at
Tue Jul 22 03:47:26 EST 2003


In response to your interesting question, the earliest use of the term I
have found is in:

MC Cooke, Handbook of British Fungi, Vol I, p. 148, 1871.

Cook simply states:  Agaricus (Psilocybe) semilanceatus. Fr. "Liberty cap

The term does not appear in Berkeley's Outlines of British Fungology, 1860.

Is Cooke's the earliest use of the term?  One would guess that it came into
common use in England with a (relative) decrease in Francophobia sometime
earlier in the middle of 19 Century.  As for North America, it is not
commonly found here and is not mentioned in many of the field guides.


Elio Schaechter
Author, "In the Company of Mushrooms"
Harvard University Press

on 7/21/03 1:34 AM, Morlie JL at morlie at wrote:

> (Forgive my English , I am Belgian)
> my question is:
> "was the "Psilocybe semilanceata" called "liberty cap"   between  years
> 1900 - 1930 or before. On the contrary is it a recent "vernacular name"?
> Can you send me your quote for the earlier reference you could find. ( I
> found nothing in Oxford complete), I believe its easier with old English or
> American book about mycology?
> "liberty cap " came from the shape of the French  revolution "bonnet
> Phrygian" ( fool's cap) symbol of liberty for former slave in Roman Empire,
> and Masonic "liberty cap" US ten cent coin.
> Best regards to all of you
> Jean-Luce Morlie

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