British television presenter Alan Titchmarsh found hallucinogenic mushrooms growing in Queen Elizabeth II’s garden Friday at Buckingham Palace, according to reports. But there’s no evidence that she or any members of the royal family are using the ‘shrooms to get high.
Titchmarsh made the discovery during preparations for a television special called “The Queen’s Garden.” Known as Amanita muscaria, or fly agaric, the hallucinogenic mushroom occurred naturally and was not being cultivated. “I won’t be eating any of that,” Titchmarsh said on the special, which will air in the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, according to The Telegraph.
Asked if the mushrooms were edible, ecology Professor Mick Crawley revealed their sordid use. “That depends what you mean. It’s eaten in some cultures for its hallucinogenic effects. But it also makes people who eat it very sick,” he said. “The old-fashioned thing to do was to feed it to the village idiot, then drink his urine because you get all of the high without any of the sickness.”
The mushrooms, which are identified by their red, spotted toadstools, are often used in rituals, according to the Associated Press. They help trees process nutrients, but are considered harmful to humans. Palace gardeners purposely allow the mushrooms to grow because of their helpful properties. “Every time they chop something down, they leave out the wood to rot,” Titchmarsh said in the special, according to the Daily Mail.
Buckingham Palace officials said the hallucinogenic mushrooms were just one of hundreds of species that occur naturally in the queen’s 40-acre garden. “For the avoidance of doubt, fungi from the garden are not used in the Palace kitchens,” a spokesman told The Sun.
The queen’s garden is a nature preserve, home to thousands of species of insects, hundreds of species of flowers and dozens of species of birds. Queen Elizabeth II has been the garden’s namesake longer than any other British monarch.