in nativeplants •  last year 

Image from Wikihow

Whenever I'm in the woods and find a tree or bush full of berries, I am so curious to know if they are edible, if they are native to the northeast, if I should just take some home and find out about them. I usually don't do anything. I'm usually pretty scared of them. Recently, I've found a lot of helpful information on Wikihow.

They say:
1. When in any doubt, do not eat wild berries: It is not worth the chance of getting ill, perhaps vomiting, having diarrhea, and nausea which could weaken you, dehydrate you, and put you in danger. Even if you see an animal (mammals included) eating some, it does not mean that they are safe for humans.

Never eat a berry you can't identify.

2. Stay away from white, yellow, and green berries: In as high as 90% of cases, many botanists agree that these three colors indicate poisonous berries.

Photo: Wikihow

Red berries are 50% not good, especially if they are in clusters. Single berries are safer.

Generally, blue, black and aggregated berries, such as raspberries and blackberries, are safe. There is one huge exception... pokeberries. They have a bright pink stalk and dark berries. They are highly toxic even though some birds love them. They are used commercially for dye.


Photo: http://breathtaking-blog.blogspot.com/2016/09/pokeberry-and-echium-blooms.html

3. Stay away from berries on plants with spines, bitter smells, or milky sap: These plants and berries are not generally safe for humans to eat.

Milky or odd-colored saps.
Berries or nuts in pods and bulbs
Bitter or soapy taste
Spines or small pointy hairs
Pink, purple, or black spurs.
Three-leaved growth pattern (like poison ivy)[4]

Photo: Wikihow

4. Smash the berries to test the juice on your forearm, lips, and tongue: Smear the berry on your arm. Wait 5 minutes. If there is no irritation, try it on your lips and tongue. Finally, if there still is no effect, chew a berry for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not swallow it. If there is no irritation, move on to the next step.

Test just one berry at a time so you don't get confused as to which berry is having the reaction. If the berry tastes awful, it's a good indication that it's poisonous.

Photo: Wikihow

The next test, if you really must eat...

5. Eat 1-2 berries and wait 20 minutes: After 20 minutes you should be able to tell if you will have any adverse reactions.

Even if you're fine after 20 minutes, keep eating slowly. Pace the berries out over a long time to prevent any toxins from gathering and give you time to adjust or note problems.

6. Always look up or carry plant identification information when going to new environments: Here are 2 examples taken from Amazon. It's really important to have a guidebook to rely on for identifying edible wild plants and berries.

7. Symptoms of berry poisoning: Be on the alert for digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms. See a doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms:

Blurred vision

I sincerely hope this is helpful and useful to you. For more information, check out:

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Ha, amazing most nightshades have black to yellow berries. Love Ground Cherries.


No kidding! I have some growing in my yard. I'll let them get berries to see what they're like. I have also found non-native porcelain berries right by my covered walkway.

Photo: vnps.org

These berries are so pretty but very poisonous!!! They look a lot like native grape vines.


Ya we have them here too