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Assume it is a Poisonous Plant Until You Know it is Not

It is rather vogue in some circles to find edible wild plants, which are otherwise usually known as weeds. My husband sometimes goes around taste testing my landscaping while saying things like, “I heard this might be good.” As I protest, he counters with, “If I die, don’t eat it! Wait at least a couple of hours from now to see how I do.” But all iron gullet adventures aside, it is wise to investigate the properties of plants in your yard. Both children and animals tend to randomly decided to eat things, or feed things to each other, or eat animals that have eaten things. Life can be diagramed by who eats what and whom.

We experienced this in a rather horrific way a few years ago when the children innocently gave our new goats a handy snack (as told in this guest post for the D&B Supply blog). I went through stages of wanting to kill all green things in the yard. Part of the challenge is that there are SO many varieties of just weeds. My acre is never weed free. I am still not only learning about plants that have been around for years, but finding new ones that show up from parts unknown!

Fortunately, this subject of dangerous plants has previously fascinated other people and there are books and websites with information. Not long after our incident, we found a couple of books at the used book store. As did this author (Deadly Beautiful: The World’s Most Poisonous Animals and Plants), we noticed a trend of the eye-catching being the poisonous. The nature shows always say this is a “warning,” but some animals and people obviously see it as an invitation. Kind of like “courting death.”

I bought my husband these mushroom books and was relieved to see him and the children read them closely.

We have all since eaten mushrooms they found in the woods and survived. The mushrooms were actually pretty tasty, but eating the first one took a lot of mental effort for me.

I recently started a series of articles about my backyard weeds. I have discovered some common ones are hurtful in more ways than from eating them. After I get a few more articles written, I will start a page that lists them all. For now, those articles can be accessed by looking for that category in the “tag cloud” at the bottom of every blog page. (The third My Backyard Weeds article should be published 11/02/2013.)

If anyone tells you that this or that weed is good for salad or medicine, be careful. Amount ingested, point in plant life cycle, specific parts of the plant, and your own constitution are some of the things that can make a difference in whether or not the experiment works out for you. Next of my list of books to add to the library?

Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants


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