Poisonous Plants

Know what you're picking

Foraging for and collecting wild edibles is a great pastime – these edibles can supplement your hiking, camping, hunting or fishing meals, you can bring them home and turn them into tasty meals, you could even freeze them and save your harvest for those winter months when thoughts of foraging in the sun are distant memories.

 

But while you’re out and about, be sure you know what’s safe to eat and what’s not.

 

European bittersweet

This climbing vine is part of the nightshade family, with a purple shooting star-like flower and berries that ripen from green, to yellow, to red. All parts of this plant are poisonous, and sickness and death have been reported in those who have eaten this plant.

 

You’ll find bittersweet along roadsides, in moist clearings and forest edges.

Bittersweet.
Photo by iStock

Baneberry

Baneberry starts out as a white flower that grows in clusters. The berries can be red or white. Serious side effects can occur from as few as two baneberries, such as cramps, headache, vomiting and dizziness. The berries and the roots seem to be the most poisonous.

 

You can find baneberry in moist, shady woods, along stream banks and similar areas.

Baneberry in white phase.
Photo by iStock
Red baneberry.
Photo by iStock

Western yew

The berries that grow on a yew tree range from a salmon colour to scarlet, and they’re cup-shaped, covering a brown seed. Ingesting the berries from a yew tree can cause heart failure.

 

You can find the yew tree along the coast, at low to medium elevations.

Western yew berries.
Photo by iStock

 

Common snowberry

Snowberries have a pink, bell-shaped flower, and white berries that grow in clusters. All parts of this plant are considered toxic, but they do provide ample food for a wide variety of animals, such as grouse, hare, bear, deer and other animals.

 

You can find the common snowberry along stream banks, in moist clearings and thickets.

Snowberry.
Photo by iStock

 

Information provided by Wild Berries Of The Northwest, by J. Duane Sept.

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