[NAFEX] What's safe to eat and what isn't

Diane Whitehead voltaire at islandnet.com
Tue Nov 30 15:43:51 EST 2004

Our dogwood berries (Cornus nuttallii) would be hard to reach as the 
trees are big. The fruit is reported as "edible but bitter".

The fruit clusters of creeping dogwood (Cornus canadensis) are 
clusters of smooth berries - they wouldn't be considered a 'bumpy 
berry'.  In any case, they are not poisonous.

The eastern dogwood (Cornus florida) has fruit described as "slightly 
poisonous".  I have never seen them fruit here - summer too cool, I 
guess - so I don't know what they look like.

The "strawberry tree" would most likely be Arbutus unedo.  It grows 
here and flowers all winter, providing nectar for hummingbirds, but 
it rarely fruits.  I did see a lot of fruit last month in northern 
California, though.  I had always read that 'unedo' means 'eat one' 
because  no one would eat a second.  In Napa, they were dropping on 
the ground, so I tried one which was juicy and pleasant.  It tasted 
as good as most tropical fruits ( only the distinctly flavoured 
tropicals get shipped - most are sweet and bland.) I don't know why 
writers in the U.K. say they taste unpleasant. 

Our arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), known in the U.S. as madrone, has 
big bunches of orange berries which are textured like oranges.  They 
fall to the ground in bunches, so could be accessible to small 
children. I guess it would be a toss-up as to whether they'd be 
considered smooth or bumpy, but they are edible.

Diane Whitehead  Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
maritime zone 8
cool mediterranean climate (dry summer, rainy winter - 68 cm annually)
sandy soil

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