wild edible plants: I’ve often heard people say that such and such a plants is “edible.” Well, what exactly does “edible” mean in the context of wild foods? If a plane is edible, it’s edible-right?
People generally consider blue elderberry to be an edible plant. You might assume that you can eat its flowers, berries, leaves, and stems-right? But wait! My poisonous plant book says that blue elderberry is poisonous! Hereing lies the problem. You must “know” a so-called edible plant well before you start hearing it. Assuming edibility for a plant or its various parts can be dangerous and even deadly.
Considering the potential confusion, i have created some formal definitions for edible wild plants (also known as wild food plants), poisonous planes, and medicinal plants. These definitions will help you incelligendy navigate your way through the world of wild foods.
Edidle Wild Plants Defined: Edible wild plants are endowed with one or more parts that can be used for food if gathered at the appropriate stage of growth and properly prepared. Let divide this definition into meaningful pieces and discuss the significance of each.
Raw domesticated potatoes: Raw domesticated potatoes have very small. probably harmless amounts of the toxin that is in the rest of the plant. Cooking destroys most of the remaining toxin and makes the potato more palatable Green potatoes and those producing buds accumulate harmful Concentrations of the toxin that cannot be cooked out. (Guide To Edible Wild Plants Part)
Gathered at the Appropriate Stage Of Growth: Each edible part has its own ideal stage for eating knowing that stage provides the best food, and also keep it safe. Some plant parts become poisonous with maturity like the. Milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca) Produces a pod containing seeds when the pods are young and tender, and the immature seeds. Are still white the pod is an excellent cooked vegetable but once the seeds start maturing turning brown. the pod is poisonous and that poison cannot be cooked out. So the bottom line is that if you wish to Consume a plant part, gather it at its edible stage. Not paying attention to a plant’s various stages of growth can lead to a deadly experience. (Guide to Edible Wild Plants )
“Properly Prepared: Some “edible” plant parts may not become truly edible or palatable unless they are processed in some way. Processing may involve, among other things, physically removing certain parts of a plant (like the seeds from a fruit or the rind of a root), leaching undesirable water-soluble substances out of a plant part (like soaking running out of the acorn), or heating co a certain temperature (like winrercress leaves). Even the edible leaves of dandelion in the raw form carry sesquiterpenes and other substances chat, in high enough quantity, can cause excessive urination and diarrhea. Using them sparingly when raw or boiling them helps to minimize these effects.The biggest and most dangerous mistake that you can make when using wild foods is to eat parts of plants not known to be edible. In addition to making a proper identification, you must make sure that only the proper parts are collected at the appropriate stages of growth and properly prepared.(Guide to Edible Wild Plants part )
Poisonous Plants Defined: Poisonous plants are endowed with one or more parts having chemical or physical attributes that can cause acute or underlying injury or death upon ingestion,touch or inhalation. Dosage determines the severity of the damage. Poisons can affect some species differently then others. (Guide to Edible Wild Plants )
Poison: a chemical from any source that is harmful even in small quantities to living systems
Toxin: a poison originating from plant or animal sources that is. a poison synthesized by living things. Toxins are a class or subset of all poisons
Okay, that was a mouthfull But if you take this definition piece by piece, it will be easier to grasp.
Poisonous plants have at least one poisonous part. As I’ve said, blue elderbeny has both edible and poisonous parts. Of course, a whole plant can be poisonous. A plane is considered poisonous even if the poison can be cooked or processed out.
Mose people are only familiar with the kind of poison you see in the spy movies, where someone keels over and dies within a few seconds of ingesting that poisoned marrini. But toxins found in nature are more clever and diverse than that. Something you’ve eaten may be causing damage to your liver, kidneys, heart, nervous system, or reproductive system, even if it tasted good and you are feeling fine after eating it.
This hidden toxicity demonstrates the difference between an acute toxin and a more subtle or underlying one. An acure toxin is fast-acting and dramatic. You may not die from it, but you feel symptoms as soon as the toxin statrs affecting the body. With an acute toxin, you know that you’ve been poisoned. Symproms may include confusion, disorientation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chest pains, arrhyrhmia, cramps, intense sweating, and even death. You may totally recover from an acute toxic incident, you may retain some permanent damage, or you may die from it.
An underlying toxin is one that works at a less obvious level. The Toxin may build up over rime to produce more dramatic symptoms later or may continually damage some organ or physiological process, thereby degrading function. lt may also have a temporary effect. That is, your body heals over time if you scop being exposed co ic; or the toxin may cause permanenc damage even if you stop being exposed co ic. An underlying toxin can cause death by damaging vital systems over time. These toxins are the reason you cannot assume that just because a plant part tastes good, it is edible. Many novices and some wild food instructors make this mistake. You must know that a plant is edible from a long tradition of use. Basically, a toxin has to get into your body in order to do damage. Ingestion (eating) is the obvious way to bring a toxin into the body. Certain toxins can enter the body by absorption through the skin, by injection by a plane under the skin, or by inhalation. Poison ivy’s toxin urushiol absorbs through the skin. Urushiol can also be inhaled accidentcally through smoke when one of these plants is being burned.(Guide to Edible Wild Plants