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Douglas Capraro Douglas Capraro

Photos: The Many Plants Behind the World’s Favorite Drugs


From marijuana to magic mushrooms, a new exhibit at Kew Gardens highlights just how natural many drugs are.

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Whether they’re associated with counter-culture movements or ancient rituals, the mind-altering drugs that hold the most significant places in human history and culture are usually plant-based. And a new living exhibition at Kew Gardens, the botanical gardens in London which boasts the world’s largest collection of living plants, allows visitors to view these drugs, “from everyday to class A,” in their natural state.

The drugs included run the gamut from caffeine to opium to the powerful psychoactive Ayahuasca. And so far, Kew say that they have received “overwhelmingly positive feedback” from visitors. Presumably, the scientific context of this display smooths over any legal hurdles.

Curator Justine Quinn says, “People often know about the drugs coming from them, not the plants themselves,” and notes that “Most of us will take a mind-altering plant at some point.” Here are some of the exhibition’s highlights:

 

Amania Muscaria (Magic Mushrooms)

Amania Muscaria (“Magic Mushrooms”)

Areca Nut (mild stimulant)

Areca Nut (mild stimulant)

 

Ayahuasca (psychoactive)

Ayahuasca (psychoactive)

Blue Agave (tequila ingredient)

Blue Agave (tequila ingredient)

Coffee (mild stimulant)

Coffee

Datura Stramonium (powerful hallucinogen)

Datura Stramonium (powerful hallucinogen)

Kava (powerful sedative)

Kava (powerful sedative)

Khat (stimulant)

Khat (stimulant)

Cannabis

Cannabis

Opium Poppy (morphine)

Opium Poppy

Peyote (mescaline)

Peyote (mescaline)

Salvia Divinorum (psychoactive)

Salvia Divinorum (psychoactive)