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Magic mushrooms found in Buckingham Palace grounds

By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 12, 2014 in Environment
London - British TV gardner Alan Titchmarsh has discovered a species of psychedelic mushroom which causes florid hallucinations growing on the grounds of Buckingham Palace, London, where Queen Elizabeth II lives.
The fungi are believed have grown naturally in the garden and not purposefully planted.
The 65-year-old presenter found the red-and-white hallucinogenic toadstool called Amanita muscaria, while filming a Christmas special, "The Queen's Garden," at Buckingham Palace for ITV.
Titchmarsh had spent a year touring the garden at Buckingham Palace to bring to TV viewers the work of the royal gardeners.
He was exploring the 40-acre garden in the company of Professor Mick Crawley, an ecologist, when, unexpectedly, they saw the fungi, also known as fly agaric, fly mushroom or fly amanita, growing.
When Titchmarsh asked the professor whether the fungi were edible, he said, "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."
The professor continued: "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."
"I think I'll forgo that and stick to normal mushrooms," Titchmarsh responded, and then added an advice for viewers,"Not something to try at home."
Amanita muscaria found growing in Australia
Amanita muscaria found growing in Australia
JJ Harrison (CC BY-SA 3.0)
He later told The Sun, "That was a surprise but it shows just how varied the species are. I won’t be eating any of that, though, no. My idea of hard drugs is Nurofen."
Buckingham Palace quickly issued a statement that the magic mushrooms found growing in the Queen's garden have never been part of the diet of the royals.
The popular term "magic mushroom" applies to any hallucinogenic mushroom, many of which contain psilocybin. But psilocybin mushrooms were not reported found in the royal garden.
A palace spokesman, said, "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."
He also told The Sun "For the avoidance of doubt, fungi from the garden are not used in the Palace kitchens."
Mature Amanita muscaria with white spots washed off
Mature Amanita muscaria with white spots washed off
JJ Harrison (CC BY-SA 3.0)
The fungus, Amanita muscaria, is known to contain psychoactive substances ibotenic acid and muscimol that cause hallucinations. It has been used for centuries in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, Asia, North America and North Western Europe, especially by traditional medicine men or "Shamans" as part of magico-religious rites.
It has been noted that the side effects of the psychoactive substances are difficult to predict because they depend on where the mushrooms were found and how much of it was ingested. But generally, the effects include nausea, drowsiness, hypotension, sweating, mood swings and hallucinations.
The hallucinatory effects include changes in color perception, distortion in perception of object boundaries and in some cases "spiritual experiences."
The fungi are poisonous and could cause death when ingested in sufficient quantity. People are therefore advised never to eat wild mushrooms without consulting an expert or someone who knows exactly which types are safe for ingestion.
Amanita muscaria is not widely used for recreational purposes partly because the active substances are known to cause depression. The types more commonly used are those containing psilocybin.
Jose de Creeft s sculpture: Alice  the hero in Lewis Carroll s  Alice in Wonderland   sits on a mush...
Jose de Creeft's sculpture: Alice, the hero in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," sits on a mushroom, in Central Park, New York. The story is widely thought to be based on the hallucinogenic effect of Amanita muscaria.
The mushrooms are found growing naturally and widely in Europe and North America. They are often found growing close to trees, such birch and pine. Besides being beneficial to trees, they are used as feeding and breeding site by flies and beetles.
Titchmarsh explained on the TV show that the royal gardeners encourage the mushrooms to grow in the garden, saying, "Every time they chop something down, they leave out the wood to rot."
According to the Daily Mail, the royal garden has over 350 species of wildflower, 83 species of birds and over 2,000 species of British insects and butterflies.
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