Celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh was touring around the Palace gardens at Buckingham Palace — home of Queen Elizabeth — while filming a TV special, when he noticed something that caught his eye: a type of hallucinogenic mushroom, sometimes referred to as “magic mushrooms,” growing freely in the Palace gardens, Russia Today is reporting.
“That was a surprise but it shows just how varied the species are. I won’t be eating any of that.”
The so-called “magic mushroom” is known by a variety of names. Scientifically, it’s called Amanita muscaria; gardeners sometimes call it “fly agaric” or the “fly mushroom.” The bright red toadstool with white spots makes a colorful presence in a garden — and its hallucinogenic properties have been known for millennia, often being consumed in religious rituals, according to People.
An anonymous user describes a magic mushroom trip on Shroomery, a website where hallucinogenic mushroom users compare notes.
“I got a strange feeling that there was another entity in the room, or looking down on us, not ghost/god like but like an alien form conducting research on how we live. There seemed to be hundreds of tiny flashes from the curtains and other spots that I thought were miniature reconnaissance teams recording what was going on. This thought of something there watching us without us knowing it disturbed me somewhat… These mushrooms are not to be messed with… They are not for recreational use.”
However, if you’re thinking that you might want to eat a magic mushroom for a buzz, think again: they can be toxic to humans, and recreational ‘shroomers looking for a trip tend to avoid them because of their depressant qualities, says Russia Today. The smaller psilocybin mushrooms are the preferred fungus of choice for drug trips.
At any rate, neither Queen Elizabeth nor anyone in Buckingham Palace is eating the magic mushrooms growing in the gardens; at least, that’s what an official Buckingham Palace spokesperson wants you to believe.
“For the avoidance of doubt, fungi from the garden are not used in the palace kitchens.”
Rather, the Palace keeps the magic mushrooms around for a far more mundane purpose: they help the gardens’ ecosystem.
“There are several hundred fungi species in the palace garden, including a small number of naturally occurring fly agaric mushrooms. As the program explains, they are beneficial to trees, increasing their ability to take in nutrients.”
If you’re interested in seeing the TV show where the Queen’s magic mushrooms were discovered, you’ll need access to British TV: the show will air on ITV on Christmas Day.
[Image courtesy of: Matt Cole Photography]