Oct 03, 2014 I Paul Seaburn

Royal Botanic Gardens Visitors Sample Mind-Altering Plants

If you’ve ever wanted to visit a World Heritage site and get high while you’re there (and who hasn’t), the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew has an offer you can’t pass up. From now until October 20th, it’s “Intoxication Season” at the gardens where visitors can learn more about alcohol, cannabis, coffee and magic mushrooms as well as get a chance to sample “unusual plants.”

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew was founded in 1840 and houses the world’s largest collection of living plants. The “Intoxication Season” exhibition is described as covering everything “from everyday to Class A, mind-altering plants and fungi.” What intoxicating plants will be there?

From the controversial opium poppy to our much-loved everyday cup of coffee, Kew's expert plant scientists will demonstrate how mind-altering plants can be both medicines and intoxicants.


The experts include former government advisor Professor David Nutt, who was dismissed in 2009 for saying ecstasy was no more dangerous than horseback riding. They’ll be giving talks like “Cannabis: pleasure, madness …and medicine?” and “Psilocybin, telepathy and religious experience.”

After hours of intoxicating workshops, it’s time to get intoxicated with Bompas and Parr, a culinary team that makes art out of food. As part of their program, they will be providing samples of “unusual,” unfamiliar and culturally significant plants. The list includes Betel nuts, raw guarana, kola nuts and lotus tea, as well as the more mundane coffee, tobacco and blue agave.

Sam Bompass and Harry Parr 570x374
Sam Bompass and Harry Parr preparing some "unusual" ingredients.

In response to complaints about the exhibit, a spokesperson for the Kew says the festival will give information on mind-altering plants but in no way condones the use of illegal drugs.

'We are aiming to show visitors how plants' identities have been manipulated through time, sometimes portrayed as friend, sometimes as foe, when in actuality no plant is inherently a drug, a medicine, or a poison.

How true. Now pass the clippers and mustard.

Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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