Don't eat these.

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Sun, Sep 11, 2016 - 9:53pm

Related to my post on When the Harvest Fails; here is a partial alphabetical list and photo essay of things NOT to eat when foraging.  I'm concentrating on things you might find in a suburban yard this time, with a few wild suburban edibles thrown in. 

Don't eat these: Anthurium. It probably does not grow near you unless you live in Hawaii, Miami, or in a tropical country. But they're poisonous. 


Don't eat these: Azaleas. Again, poisonous. 



REALLY don't eat these: Buckeyes. EXTREMELY poisonous. 


Don't eat these: ficus tree leaves. Again, poison


REALLY don't eat these: Foxglove. Highly poisonous, with varying amounts of what is basically digitalis that can stop your heart.


Don't eat these:  Holly Berries. You guessed it - poisonous. 


Don't eat these: Horse nettle. Poison! (nightshade family)


Don't eat these: Hydrangea. Not as bad as some of the above, but bad. (I had no idea they were poisonous!)


Don't eat these! Lily-of-the-Valley. EXTREMELY POISONOUS


Don't eat these: Narcissus. (really bad for you!)


Don't eat these: Poke Berries. Very, very poisonous. (However the young leaves, if boiled and the water drained two times to remove excessive alkaloids, can be an emergency food.)


Don't eat these: Prunus shrub berries. They look a great deal like wild cherries, but those grow on actual trees. If it's shrub-sized, don't take a chance. Poisonous. 


Don't eat these: Rhododendron. Another landscaping plant I did not know was bad for you. 

That's all for now. Help us all to ID more plants to watch out for in the comments! - Wendy







Bytesmiths's picture
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Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 221

Common snowberry, also known as "ghost berries," because if you eat them, you become a ghost!

This is found throughout the West Coast of North America, from Northern California to Southern Alaska.

Common Snowberry

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
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Posts: 1988
new one!

Ghost berries, huh? As someone who's lived on the east coast of the USA all her life, that's a new one on me. Thanks for sharing. 

Swampmama3's picture
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 28 2009
Posts: 72
Very useful information!

Thanks a bunch for this, and with all the nice, clear color pics.   So many guides are line drawings.   Line drawings aren't as helpful as this.    Hydrangea!  Who would have thought?   It's so pleasant and smells very mild.   Never would have guessed it was poison.   And the buckeye.  I would have thought it was an edible nut, if I simply found it and didn't know what it was.   That might be a lifesaver, there.   Again, thanks!

We're overrun with horse nettle.  It's such an unpleasant plant, and NOTHING eats it, so I'm not surprised it's poison.   Hurts to step on or touch, so I'd surely never try to eat it.  Yuck.

Bytesmiths's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 28 2008
Posts: 221

Buckeyes can be eaten, if processed.

Native Americans roasted and leached them, and then pressed them into cakes with berries and bear grease.

Start by removing the nut from the shell, then roast them, then grind them up and soak them and discard the water. This removes the harmful ingredients, and leaves a nice chestnut-like meal.

You can prepare acorns in a similar manner.

Either seed will have a nutritional profile after processing similar to chestnuts — a good source of carbohydrades with some healthy oils.

Or don't bother, and just eat chestnuts. But if Something Bad Happens™ and all you have around you are buckeyes, at least you won't starve, if you know how to process them!

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