Her Royal Highness?... Magic mushrooms at Buckingham Palace

Fri Dec 12, 2014 10:11am EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - A species of hallucinogenic mushroom has been found growing wild in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, the main residence of Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Film-makers stumbled across the red and white speckled fly agaric fungus as they shot footage in the 40-acre private estate for a documentary entitled "The Queen's Garden" to be screened by broadcaster ITV on Christmas Day.

"That was a surprise but it shows just how varied the species are," presenter Alan Titchmarsh told Friday's edition of popular tabloid newspaper The Sun.

ITV said on its website: "Fly agaric are a common species and are understood to have grown naturally in the palace grounds rather than having been planted there."

The species, whose botanical name is amanita muscaria, is thought to have been first named for its use in parts of Europe as an insecticide, according to Britain's Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, southwest London.

"Fly agaric is well known to contain psychoactive alkaloids, and has a long history of use in Asia and parts of northern Europe for religious and recreational purposes," it adds on its website.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "There are several hundred fungi species in the palace garden, including a small number of naturally occurring fly agaric mushrooms."

(Reporting by Stephen Addison; editing by John Stonestreet)