It seems that the Queen of England may have some hallucinogenics close at hand. Let she who has never let unidentified mushrooms flourish in the back yard cast the first stone.
During preparations for a TV special last week, film crews noticed that one of the many mushrooms growing in the gardens of Buckingham Palace -- the home of Queen Elizabeth II of England -- was of the "magic" variety. The AP reports that mushrooms in the garden are not used by the palace kitchens for recreation or ragout.
If you're still suspicious, here's the fungal 411: The mushroom that film crews spotted was the Amanita muscaria (known as the fly agaric). It's that classic, shiny red shroom with white spots -- think "Alice in Wonderland."
But the hallucinogenic mushrooms that we talk about when we talk about drug use aren't this species at all. It's the little brown mushrooms (ones that produce psilocybin) that take users on the mind-altering (and perhaps very beneficial) trips you probably associate with magic mushrooms.
Fly agarics are indeed hallucinogenic, but consuming one wouldn't exactly make for a fun afternoon: They're actually quite toxic. They're unlikely to kill you (unless you go to town on a whole bowl of them) but the neurotoxins therein can turn you into a nauseous, sweaty, drooling mess for the duration of your trip.
While I feel safe in assuming that these symptoms have kept the royal family from indulging, plenty of humans throughout history have enjoyed the fly agaric's uniquely tumultuous trip. There's a running theory in the world of mushroom nerds that these spotted caps were used in the very earliest religious ceremonies, and that they might have been responsible for the first human concept of a higher power.
In any case, finding this particular mushroom growing wild in an English garden isn't particularly unusual.