While filming a Christmas TV special for British broadcaster ITV, UK celebrity gardener and TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh discovered bright red fly agaric mushrooms growing at Buckingham Palace, reports NBC.
The Queen’s Garden special unsurprisingly involved Titchmarsh exploring the queen’s private garden, and is scheduled to be aired on Christmas Day. Since these mushrooms have that unmistakable bright red toadstool appearance that everyone has seen in children’s books, they were hard to miss.
These aren’t true magic mushrooms, since they contain no psilocybin. According to the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, these mushrooms have insect pest control uses, in addition to religious and recreational uses due to its hallucinogenic properties. Muscimol, ibotenic acid, and muscazone can cause psychotropic poisoning, and these mushrooms also contain small amounts of the toxin muscarine, which causes a sweat-inducing poisoning. Kew also characterizes it as “a common and widespread fungus, native to much of the north-temperate world.”
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace confirmed that they did know about the mushrooms. He told NBC,
He added that fly agarics are beneficial to certain trees, helping them to take in nutrients. Kew adds that they tend to form a relationship with tree roots, most commonly with some birch and pine species.
Buckingham Palace officials went on to specify that fungi from that garden are not ever used in the palace kitchens. Titchmarsh, for his part, simply said, “I won’t be eating any.”
All we can say is, that would be a much different kind of TV special, indeed.