The Do's & Do Nots of Edible Berries

The Do's & Do Nots of Edible Berries

“Violet you're turning violet, Violet!”  -Mrs. Beauregarde, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory

I can’t help it.  The first thing that pops into my brain when trying to put this blog together. I mean, could you blow up like a giant blueberry. Probably not.  You could however turn the color of said blueberry because you would be dead if you just start eating berries you pick off a bush in the middle of nowhere. Sure you would have to eat like a bushelful but even just a handful will make you very very uncomfortable. 

Assuming you are in North America we can give you some guidelines to help identify a tasty treat or a really bad night.  Do your homework and get yourself a field book with pictures to be very clear of what is available in your area.

Berry plants that have a bitter scent, spines, small pointy hairs or milky sap are your first clue that these are not edible. 

“I saw a rabbit eating them.” Huge no! Wild animals' digestion can handle a few berries. For humans it will lead to diarrhea, vomiting and an upset stomach.  You are better with no food and just drinking water. In a survival situation if you have a smidge of doubt then don’t do it. You are putting yourself at greater risk that will lead to depleting your health drastically. If you absolutely have to do it. Test the berry first by eating a small amount and waiting 20 minutes before consuming more. Space out the amount you eat to avoid toxins from building up in case they are poisonous, and your body hasn’t revolted in the first 20 minutes.  Just remember humans can go 8-21 days without food or water, so make sure it’s necessary if you must throw caution to the wind.

90% of white, green, and yellow berries are poisonous. Unless you are a skilled botanist assume they will kill you and don’t eat them.

50% of red berries are safe to eat.  How lucky are you feeling? Rule of thumb: Cluster berries are bad, single berries usually fine. Stay away from the dark red berry with a bright pink stalk. That bitch is very toxic.

Signs that you picked a bad bunch will show up within a few hours. If you are experiencing nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, convulsions, blurred vision, and cramps. You need to get medical help.

 It’s wild out there. Be smart and be prepared.

Your friends,



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