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

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  • From: Katherine Russell <>
  • To: North American Fruit Explorers <>
  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] What's safe to eat and what isn't
  • Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 14:12:04 -0500

Bumpy berries: Don't forget mulberries, which can be delicious.
My brother and I grew up across from a park where there were mulberry trees, and since we had no-one to teach us the facts, we were convinced that these weird berries on the trees must be poisonous. That the birds ate them seemed to only prove the point to us. ("Birds can eat poisonous berries with no problem" in our youthful opinion). It was years later that I found out about mulberries.

Isn't there something called a strawberry tree, though, which is bad for you? Heck, maybe that's another thing from my childhood that I imagined.

Best - KR

Diane Whitehead wrote:

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"?

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