Plants as food

A collection of interesting tales or information regarding nature itself and/or people in nature.
by Ryan

Plants as food

Postby Ryan » Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:27 pm

Whether it is a new plant, or simply just a plant that is tempting to be a source of food, there is a procedure to be followed in order to determine if it is possibly safe to eat.

    Inspect: Make sure the plant has not been infested with worms and that it is not slimy. Do not chance eating old withered plants.

    Smell: Take a piece, leaf, of the plant and rub it in your palm or between your fingers and smell it. If it smells like almonds or peaches do not eat it! Those smells would probably mean that the plant contains Hydrocyanic Acid (Prussic Acid). To know the exact aroma you can smell the crushed leaf of a Cherry Laurel.

    Skin Irritation: After having crushed a leaf and smelled it rub it on a tender piece of skin (your inner arm for example). If there is a slight burning or tingling sensation (or other discomfort), rash or swelling... do not eat it! If this happens it is probable that the stinging, burning, etc. sensation is due to Oxalic Acid. To encounter this feeling you can try rubbing Wild Rhubarb or Wood Sorrel on your skin.

    Lips, Mouth, Tongue: This step is similar to the "Skin Irritation" step except you slowly come closer and closer to ingesting the plant in question. Wait approximately 15 seconds between each of the below steps.

      ~ Place a small portion on your lips
      ~ Place a small portion in the corner of your mouth
      ~ Place a small portion on the tip of your tongue
      ~ Place a small portion under your tongue
      ~ Chew a small portion between the front teeth but do not swallow
    If there is any discomfort like soreness, irritation, stinging or burning to the lips, mouth or throat don't eat it!

    Swallow: If everything checks out so far you can now try ingesting a small piece. Then do not eat or drink anything for the next five hours. NOTHING!

    Eating: If after five hours there aren't any reactions such as soreness to your mouth or throat, repeated belching, nausea, stomach pains or abdominal cramps the plant would be considered safe to eat.

Plants to avoid
The below list is things that are generally signs of inedible plants... unless you know for certain that a particular plant, with any of these qualities, is edible... avoid them.

    ~ Any plant with a milky sap

    ~ Any red plants

    ~ Any fruit that is divided into five segments

    ~ Any plants with tiny barbs on the stems and leaves as they can irritate the mouth and stomach

    ~ Any old and/or wilted leaves because some plants develop deadly toxins when they wilt. A few examples would be blackberry, raspberry, plum, peach, and cherry which are all edible when young, fresh and dry.

    ~ Any mature bracken (fern) as they destroy vitamin B and can be lethal. You can eat only the young, tightly coiled "fiddle heads". All northern temperate ferns are edible when they are young, however some may be too bitter and others must be cleaned of hairy barbs before eating.

What to do if stomach problems occur
    ~ Drink lots of hot water

    ~ Do not eat anything else until the pain dissipates

    ~ Induce vomiting by tickling the back of the throat

    ~ Swallowing charcoal may induce vomiting as well as absorb at least some, if not all, of the toxin

    ~ White wood ash mixed with water to form a paste will relieve stomach pain
[R] If you don't understand something I said or why I said it... ask me.
If you don't want to understand something I said or why I said it... tell me.
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Ryan
 
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Location: Vienna, Austria
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Re: Plants as food

Postby mirjana » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:19 am

Excellent article Ryan. I gave you Kudos for this. There is so much to learn that, under certain circumstances, could be life saving. Great work!

PS: It wouldn't be bad to be close to you in the challenging times. ;0)
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mirjana
 
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