Be careful when eating wild plants

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 27, 2018

When I was a little kid, my friends and I often dared each other to eat unfamiliar plants. We would be wandering around in the woods and would see who would be willing to snap a leaf from a tree or munch down on a ripe berry. I had a very basic knowledge of poisonous plants, but for the most part, I had no idea what I was consuming.

I was fortunate to never experience poisoning from those plants, but others are not always so lucky.

According to an article by the National Institute of Health, “Each year over 100,000 exposures to toxic plants are reported to poison centers throughout the United States.” 

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The article states that the majority of serious plant poisoning incidents occurred in adults, rather than children.

This is because children tended to consume small amounts plants, while adults, misidentifying poisonous plants as something edible, would eat these plants in large quantities.

These misidentifications often led to illness, hospitalization or even death, according to the article.

Owner/operator of Shroomdom Inc. Leilani Rosenbaum said people should take a class on foraging, or get involved in a local group or nature society before going out to find wild plants to eat. She said that every year people are poisoned from various types of plant life – from leafy greens to mushrooms – so it is important to stay well informed and be 100 percent certain before foraging.

It is also important to know that some birds and animals can digest plants that humans cannot, so do not just pick something because an animal was seen eating it.

If children are involved, stress to them the importance of not eating random or unfamiliar plant life.

“When in doubt, always throw it out,” Rosenbaum said.

To prevent accidental exposure to poisonous plants, always keep safety priority one.