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Your plants might be more dangerous than you think

 
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This is a fantastic list! Thank you and to all who have added to it as well. I'm just beginning to forage and have only collected plants that I was 100% sure of (like dandelion). One reason I hadn't begun earlier was out of fear of eating something that would make me sick. This is a wonderful list to stick in my books when out and foraging. I will add pictures and more detailed information about the plants, such as stem size, hairy or smooth, leaf shape, etc..
 
pollinator
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Dr. Redhawk,

Thank you so much for this list.
I have two questions about poisonous plants in the compost.
I have a few of the poisonous varieties (like the autumn crocus) growing abundantly in my fields.
When I hay the fields these flowers might be in there as well.

I use the hay both on my compost heap and intended to top up my edible mushroom growing beds. Is there any chance the poison ends up in my compost (and subsequently in my edible plants) or absorbed by my mushrooms?

 
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Cady Sharp wrote:Nutmeg, the baking spice is hallucinogenic, a tablespoon can cause LSD type effects with a very hairy down slope and sweating. (Can’t remember where I read it).  Just use the small amounts as usual. Dose always matters.

Cady,
New England



A dear, lifelong friend has a favorite family recipe for a soup that calls for a couple teaspoons of nutmeg. For her birthday, early in their marriage, her husband decided to make it as a surprise for her, but both misread the recipe, and didn't understand the concept of a 'level' teaspoon as the norm. In the end, he added 4 heaping tablespoons of nutmeg to what I'd consider a relatively small batch of soup. They enjoyed the soup so much that they polished it off, in one sitting. They spent the next hour or so relaxing, but noticed they were tired earlier than usual, and chalked it up to their busy day. Upon waking the next morning, neither could focus, time was warped in their minds, simple functions like brushing their teeth, as they tried to get ready for work, were difficult, due to lack of coordination - they couldn't keep the toothpaste on the brush long enough to get it to their mouths, and the little speckles in it were incredibly fascinating. Many things were 'off', and it took them some time to figure out that something was actually wrong with them. They worked together, and when they were a few hours late, their employer called, very worried. My friend was stunned and terrified to discover that it was nearly 1pm! When she called the emergency room, and explained what was happening, they worked backwards to figure out what had happened, at which point the ER staff accused them of wasting their time over a stupid college high, and refused to help them! It took them until the following day to be able to function properly, and some of the effects lasted well into the day after that.

Many folks don't understand that spices aren't merely flavor additives, and can have much stronger effects than just enhancing a dish. Many spices have very strong medicinal purposes, and can, in large quantities, have surprising, even frightening effects.
 
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duane hennon wrote:

just to be on the safe side

I'll stick with bacon and eggs  



Even there, you're not safe: "What’s Wrong with Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, and Bacon?"

https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/hot-dogs-hamburgers-bacon.html
 
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Location: South Texas
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I have a kiddo that loves to eat flowers so I’ve started growing one flower bed that has only flowers that won’t harm him. He now knows he is only allowed to eat those (though I still sometimes catch him eating clover flowers in the fields), which is important because I grow Chaya for food. It contains cyanide. The kids have been taught to never ever nibble it until it has been cooked properly. (We boil for 10 minutes and drain and think it’s delicious!)
 
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Anita Martin wrote:

Mike Haasl wrote:I gave a lady some lupine seeds as we walked through my food forest.  Later I heard that she and some friends were eating salads and put them on their salads!!!  I believe they're toxic and that was a risky behavior.


Cooked lupine seeds (of the alba variety) have a long history as a (healthy and cheap!) snack in Portugal and are used more and more for vegan products.
Not sure if the link works, the seeds look like this:
https://www.amazon.de/Portugiesische-Lupinen-Tremo%C3%A7o-Bohnen-Verpackt/dp/B0046QPBPS

Maybe that lady cooked them?


Nope, just put them on raw and I have no idea why.  Oh well, she lived to tell about it  Good to know you can cook them though, I'll have enough in the years to come...
 
pollinator
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Mike Haasl wrote:

Anita Martin wrote:

Mike Haasl wrote:I gave a lady some lupine seeds as we walked through my food forest.  Later I heard that she and some friends were eating salads and put them on their salads!!!  I believe they're toxic and that was a risky behavior.


Cooked lupine seeds (of the alba variety) have a long history as a (healthy and cheap!) snack in Portugal and are used more and more for vegan products.
Not sure if the link works, the seeds look like this:
https://www.amazon.de/Portugiesische-Lupinen-Tremo%C3%A7o-Bohnen-Verpackt/dp/B0046QPBPS

Maybe that lady cooked them?


Nope, just put them on raw and I have no idea why.  Oh well, she lived to tell about it  Good to know you can cook them though, I'll have enough in the years to come...



I believe there are different types of lupin and only some are suitable for eating without extensive prep. I was reading that boiling and then soaking for 5 days removes the alkaloid from the "Bitter" type, while the "sweet" types do not require that. All types will happily cross as well so if you want to grow them for food it's important to only have the sweet ones and for there to not be any wild or other garden varieties close by. (if you are saving seed)
 
pollinator
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Location: Dayton, Ohio
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The introductory post mentions that certain dry beans are toxic in their raw state. I recently read in a post by Green Deane that the fully dry beans of the hyacinth bean plant require special preparation in order for the beans to be eaten. I am currently growing a variety of hyacinth bean and I want to make sure I don't poison myself from not cooking the fully dry hyacinth beans properly:
http://www.eattheweeds.com/hyacinth-bean-purple-protein-and-more-2/
 
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Ryan M Miller wrote:I am currently growing a variety of hyacinth bean and I want to make sure I don't poison myself from not cooking the fully dry hyacinth beans properly


I grow hyacinth beans (got two plants going right now, the purple kind, actually, although it is maybe 4 generations since it was a dark purple and they are much greener now.
Anyway, we eat them the way my old aunties taught me, which is to use the young pods. Pick them when they are still flat, once the "peas" start to develop it's too late, the goal is the pod. Cut off the strings on the outside, boil them, and then use like snow peas or green beans.
Once the peas are developed, you may as well save them for dry beans. In my experience they require absurd amounts of cooking (gas isn't cheap) for a mediocre bean experience, so I only eat them fresh while the rabbits enjoy the foliage.
 
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Location: Central Oregon Coast Range, valley side
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I've got 3 massive foxgloves in the garden, because I thought I had found some comfrey while looking for mushrooms in a wilderness.  Turns out the plants are almost indistinguishable as a small basal rosette in early fall, but note the serrated leaf margins of foxglove!

I'm a fan of the universal edibility test.  Also note it takes a week to test a substance properly.  I've had a few tiny nibbles of some mushroom I couldn't identify that had me feeling kinda strange 24 hours later.   Pretty sure I had about 5 mm^2 of a gallerina cap one time.  It took a day and it wasn't noticeable if I was doing something, but if I stopped and focused on how I felt, I could kinda sense something was off, and I wouldn't call it good.

One time, I ate a panther amanita the size of my head.  Turns out if the conditions are just right, it can be virtually indistinguishable from a cocorra, a very yummy mushroom I had eaten 5 times before.  Be sure that the frosting is COTTONY and POOFY; a panther amanita can have frosting for a veil remnant the peels off in one nice piece, just like a cocorra, and everything else was just like a cocorra.  Although this is quite rare, the panther amanita is usually more tan than bright yellow, and the frosting veil remnant is usually in pieces and quite thin.  Fortunately, muscarine poisoning is not fatal.   That was a trip, funny I hardly cared I was barfing when I did 5 hours after ingestion.  Thanks for not killing me you purdy purdy amanita!  Yea, even if you are starving it's probably safer to just leave the amanitas alone.  My issue is that a cocorra is like eggier than eggs and became a favorite food on my first serving.

A nutritionist lady once told me to systematically test everything I eat, because all people are different and negative reactions and mild food allergies can be insidious.  The primary tell is the mucosal response in your throat after eating; this is your body trying to create a barrier between you and what you just ate (though it is possible for alliums, peppers, ginger, "HOT" things etc to induce a mucosal response after eating which is not a low degree allergic reaction slowly sucking the life out of you.)

This test suffers from the problem with the universal edibility test, in that it takes time and not many people have the patience to do something like make a meal of a single unseasoned plant.  Peanuts, cashews and walnuts failed this test, like really obviously for me.  Gosh darnit, why do peanuts and cashews taste so good then!?  Oh well, I've still got (roasted!) hazelnuts, almonds, pecans and brazil nuts...plenty of nuts really.

I was quite nervous for the tomato and potato test, in that giving up those foods would be more difficult for me than giving up bacon.  They are like the primary output of muh site that can satisfy the savory food craving (as a ~90% vegan meals individual.)  Oh thank god, no after eating mucous from the often reported negative nightshades.
 
pollinator
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:

what's the name of that giant plant that burns you severely if you even touch it, and grows about 10-15 feet tall? it's up in Canada?  that's a good one to know about.  It looks a little like Queen Anne's Lace, but it's bigger.




That'll be Giant Hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum.  Many members of that family are poisonous or hazardous, and some people who are more sensitive than others will get a skin reaction even from common hogweed, but Giant is the really nasty one.  It's an offence to cause it to grow in the wild here.




The skin reaction caused by contact with the leaves and stems of giant hogweed, parsnips, and some other members of the carrot family is caused by phytophotosensitivety where the plant sap you get on your skin after contact with the plant reacts with sunlight to cause an extreme sunburn-like rash to the skin.  When I have to work with these plants, I do all of my work just before dusk when the sun is low in the sky and be sure to wash my skin before getting out in the sun on the next day.
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:The short sweet answer is Yes they can.  However, the act of making teas usually includes items that can reduce or eliminate the toxins.

Most toxins are soluble in water, this makes it really hard to not have them dissolve into the tea.

Most toxins degrade (break down) with heat, so if you cooked the suspected plant material, you would most likely negate the toxin effect.

Just be aware of what you are using to make you teas, and treat the ingredients appropriately if they contain (or might contain) toxins.

Addendum: when you use a tea for watering the soil, the probability of toxin uptake is reduced when compared to foliar feeding plants.
The soil can act as a filter and if you have mushroom spawn in your soil the hyphae will act as filters, trapping many known toxins, a great reason to move towards myco-remediation techniques.
Foliar feeding is a direct uptake method of adding nutrients to plants, this allows any toxins to be taken into the plant and so get into the produce faster than with in soil nutrient supplementation.

For an example, I used to grow show roses, I regularly used a tea that contained several ingredients that were toxin bearers, since these were roses that would not be eaten, no worries.

I used the same tea on my tomatoes and squashes, but I heated the tea to a boil then simmered it for 15 minutes. Then I let it cool back to ambient temperature before dilution and application.
I never had any problems with produce I subjected to chemical analysis when I did this method.  
I also did a control set of tests, and the quantities of toxins were close to nil, but I prefer to err on the side of extreme safety so I always did the boil and simmer for vegetable application of this tea.



I don’t think you are Completely correct.

With or without soil..as in hydroponics; I believe Certain plants can absorb certain toxins, heavy metals etc and through processes At the molecular level these poisons can be reduced. It does not follow that applying any poison to any plant will result in a poisonous plant.

As for the boiling and simmering; making tea and boiling it and simmering it makes a stronger tea. How does this dilute?

Additionally I hav3 to agree with others that it is not just that the plant is poisonous  but the dosage of the plant material that is the issue. Many of the plants you list are quite useful.


Just wondering


 
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Bryant RedHawk is correct when he says that heat & boiling will break down toxins, Fried Green tomatoes is one exmaple.
Poke greens is another, you boil poke leaves in water like mustard & spinach greens.
You should drain & reboil again, then drain them to remove the toxins in the water.
This may not work with every plant or toxins, but it does work with many different plants.
It is true that all plant will kill you, just like all guns are loaded & all power lines are will shock you.
You should never prepare plants that you DO NOT know for a fact they are safe.
There are tons of books,blog,vlogs & threads in this subject, no one need to wonder what to do.
Then there is Poison Control:  https://www.poison.org/contact-us
https://triage.webpoisoncontrol.org/#!/exclusions
 
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Anita Martin wrote:

Mike Haasl wrote:I gave a lady some lupine seeds as we walked through my food forest.  Later I heard that she and some friends were eating salads and put them on their salads!!!  I believe they're toxic and that was a risky behavior.


Cooked lupine seeds (of the alba variety) have a long history as a (healthy and cheap!) snack in Portugal and are used more and more for vegan products.
Not sure if the link works, the seeds look like this:
https://www.amazon.de/Portugiesische-Lupinen-Tremo%C3%A7o-Bohnen-Verpackt/dp/B0046QPBPS

Maybe that lady cooked them?



Hej Anita!
There are different types of lupines. Some have been selectively bred to be edible, and some have been selected for appearance, and are really not good for eating.(or for anything else, IMO), so it's pretty important to know which type you've got before planning on eating them.
 
pollinator
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Daniel Schneider wrote:
Hej Anita!
There are different types of lupines. Some have been selectively bred to be edible, and some have been selected for appearance, and are really not good for eating.(or for anything else, IMO), so it's pretty important to know which type you've got before planning on eating them.



Exactly. Apparently not only the lupinus albus which I mentioned is edible, but also the seeds of lupinus luteus and lupinus angustifolius. Still, proper soaking and preparation is necessary (as per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupin_bean).

After eating the snack in Portugal the first time around 20 years ago, I did some reading and thought that soon we would see all kinds of products made from the lupine protein, but you have to look hard to find them in the healthfood sector. My google search just showed me that the process to extract the protein from the seeds (as opposed to just grinding it to flour) won the inventors the German Future Award in 2014.

Another interesting piece of information is that the European Union only allowed the cultivation of the lupinus angustifolius in 1997.

Seems that the edible kind is not as ornamental and people know very little about edible lupines in the first place, so I do not fear for my fellow German gardeners ;-)
 
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Malus sylvestris [Rosaceae] (apple).
The seeds contain prussic acid (cyanide). A single cup of seeds is sufficient to be fatal.



This one always tickles the hell out of me when I see it listed as a poison.  While yes, it's true that they do contain prussic acid, the amount of seeds you'd have to eat is just hilariously huge.  Visualize a whole cup of apple seeds, then remember that there's only about 5 tiny seeds to a fruit.  You'd have to be intentionally poisoning yourself to eat enough to kill.

Now stone fruit pits on the other hand do contain amygdalin which breaks down into hydrogen cyanide. It's still stupidly difficult to eat enough to poison yourself with but there was a "health" trend for a while there selling stone fruit pits and their concentrated extracts as a vitamin supplement, even advertising amygdalin as a secret cancer curing miracle "vitamin" (which I suppose is technically true; If you die from cyanide poisoning, you don't have to worry about cancer) with absolutely no warnings about potential risks.  They aren't required to because as a supplement it's not regulated by the FDA. You know the crowd that thinks "natural" means "always healthy with no side effects" has a venn diagram overlapping with the "if some is good, more is better" people and yep, there have been several cases of accidental cyanide poisoning from these "supplements".
 
Joe Grand
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Louis Fish wrote:

Malus sylvestris [Rosaceae] (apple).
The seeds contain prussic acid (cyanide). A single cup of seeds is sufficient to be fatal.



This one always tickles the hell out of me when I see it listed as a poison.  While yes, it's true that they do contain prussic acid, the amount of seeds you'd have to eat is just hilariously huge.  Visualize a whole cup of apple seeds, then remember that there's only about 5 tiny seeds to a fruit.  You'd have to be intentionally poisoning yourself to eat enough to kill.

Now stone fruit pits on the other hand do contain amygdalin which breaks down into hydrogen cyanide. It's still stupidly difficult to eat enough to poison yourself with but there was a "health" trend for a while there selling stone fruit pits and their concentrated extracts as a vitamin supplement, even advertising amygdalin as a secret cancer curing miracle "vitamin" (which I suppose is technically true; If you die from cyanide poisoning, you don't have to worry about cancer) with absolutely no warnings about potential risks.  They aren't required to because as a supplement it's not regulated by the FDA. You know the crowd that thinks "natural" means "always healthy with no side effects" has a venn diagram overlapping with the "if some is good, more is better" people and yep, there have been several cases of accidental cyanide poisoning from these "supplements".



I agree.
The stone fuit pit is poisonous & someone crossed a Apicot(poison pit) with a Almond, which the pit is the nut you eat. So now you can eat the fruit(apicot) & the pit(almond) with out any harm.
We should know what is poison & how much it take to harm/kill an child or full grown adult or harm a fetus, human or animals.
Jack-in-the-pulpit/ Indian turnip is poison, but can be eaten after cooking/boiling. It is so small that you would need 25 to 50 plants to get enough roots to save your life, if you where lost in the woods.
But knowing you must cook it is important, but I never hike without a box of granla bars, they are light, ready to eat & the wraper can mark you trail for searcher.
But I digess.
 
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Many common foods contain cyanide.  Many MD's have used amygdalin as part of an effort to fight cancer.  Some people have cured cancer using only amygdalin. Some cultures who eat apricot pits have astonishingly low rates of cancer.  Many doctors have urged people to eat a few of the seeds as a preventative to cancer.  Millions have died from chemotherapy, not from the cancer they were trying to cure.  Big Pharma set up phony studies, intentionally showing that amygdalin couldn't work, because they were threatened that inexpensive natural cures could harm profits from their deadly but hugely profitable chemotherapy.  Many people who use natural supplements study them carefully and know which ones to use.  For example, I make medicine out of blue elderberry, but not red elderberry.
John S
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