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nafex - Re: [NAFEX] What's safe to eat and what isn't

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  • From: Diane Whitehead <>
  • To: North American Fruit Explorers <>
  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] What's safe to eat and what isn't
  • Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 10:11:16 -0800

There is an old saying:
Berries red, have no dread
berries white, poisons sight.

I have masses of poisonous red berries in my garden - yew and daphne.

I trained my children, and now grandchildren, to browse my yard safely. When they were toddlers, they could identify strawberries, and we would go around the yard (which has hundreds of alpine strawberry plants growing everywhere), and I'd point to various red berries and ask if they looked like a strawberry, and they would eat the safe berries. As they got a bit older, I added other safe fruits, and then they were old enough to actually identify the poisonous ones. At this point, I would hear them instructing visiting children.

I thought about all the berries that grow in this area, both wild ones and garden ones, and came up with an all-encompassing rule for small children. "Bumpy berries are safe." This has been picked up by leaders of children's groups here, and the children are taught what they can safely eat in the woods. It leaves out the smooth berries that are safe,(huckleberries and blueberries), but those can be taught to older children when they can identify the whole bush.

I don't know whether this rule applies elsewhere. Here, all the bumpy berries are members of the rose family: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, salmonberries, thimbleberries. Does anyone know of any poisonous berries that could be considered "bumpy"?

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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