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

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  • From: Diane Whitehead <>
  • To: Bill Russell <>, North American Fruit Explorers <>
  • Cc:
  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] What's safe to eat and what isn't
  • Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004 12:43:51 -0800

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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