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Are these berries safe to eat? - Oregon grape

 
gardener
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I was at a local park today and saw these berries.  Does anyone know what they are and if they are safe to eat?
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Those look like tall Oregon grape which is native to western Washington. It is edible though often a bit bitter. I have eaten them raw but people sometimes make jellies out of them or mix them with other berries in things such as fruit leathers. The berries have a fair number of seeds in them in addition to being bitter but my understanding is that they are supposed to be medicinal.

http://www.nwplants.com/business/catalog/ber_aqu.html

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahonia_aquifolium
 
steward
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I concur with Daron. I eat them raw, whenever I am around a bush with ripe fruits in a food forest.
 
Sonja Draven
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Yes, that's exactly what they look like, Daron.  Thank you both!  I will go back tomorrow and see if they are too sour for me.  ;)  I am going to make some blueberry-chia jam soon and might add some.
 
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I currently have access to a large amount of ripe Mahonia Aquifolium berries (Oregon Grape). Does anyone know how safe it may be to eat the berries in moderately large quantities on a regular basis? Including ingesting the seeds? Specifically, I have in mind mixing about a half cup or more in with my oatmeal every morning for at least a week. After preparing the oatmeal- mixing the 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup berries, and 2 TBSP ground flax, adding plenty of boiling water to fill up to the top of the food, covering, and waiting 15 minutes- the berries end up not being terribly bitter.
 
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The whole plant is incredibly medicinal, I think in particular the roots. They're pretty prolific where I lived in extreme nor cal, and often times have a pretty good yield of berries for such a small plant.

My intuition tells me that they are good for your gut microbes and that they help condition a healthy digestive tract.

Not exactly a yummy fruit, but I eat them for,my health when I see them.

Kind of like eating flavorless, but slightly bitter pomegranate kernels.

The bitterness is likely the medicinal compounds
 
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The berries are fine to eat. Most people don't eat many because they are very sour. I don't notice any bitterness.   I don't think that sour and bitter are the same flavor.  One way to eat them that I really like is the brand new leaves in the spring are delicious! They are gourmet when they are soft, and easy to digest.  Once they become fibrous, they are way too difficult to eat.  They have an extremely complex, savory flavor that is nearly impossible to describe, but not sour like the berries.  I dare you to try it!  Bay leaves are another evergreen that are great to eat in the short period after unfolding but before they become too fibrous.
JOhn S
PDX OR
 
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John Saltveit wrote:One way to eat them that I really like is the brand new leaves in the spring are delicious! They are gourmet when they are soft, and easy to digest.  Once they become fibrous, they are way too difficult to eat.  They have an extremely complex, savory flavor that is nearly impossible to describe, but not sour like the berries.  I dare you to try it!
PDX OR



Dare accepted!  I just put a reminder on my spring calendar.  Thank you for the tip John.  Always so many new things to look forward to when you have a food forest, why doesn't everyone have one.
 
pollinator
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They're popular here as an ornamental - there's actually a volunteer in the middle of my closed-off street that I nibble from on my way to work.  WebMD says children shouldn't have it:  https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-493/oregon-grape so I should be more discreet in the future as there's a daycare directly opposite.  

The fruit is sour (which I like) but the seeds are bitter.  So I just crush the fruit with my tongue and swallow the seeds whole.  Chewing makes bitter.
 
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