Wren’s Rules - Harvesting Wild Edibles
Considerations for Harvesting Wild Edibles
Be respectful! Harvest judiciously, leaving some for other people, and for wildlife. Get permission if harvesting on other peoples’ property.
Acquaint yourself with the poisonous plants in your area, especially those that may resemble something you may wish to harvest. Be especially cautious with members of the carrot family. Wild carrot (an edible) may resemble poison hemlock and water hemlock both can be deadly.
Make sure you positively identify any plant before eating any part of it. Just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe.
Learn which parts of the plant you can eat. Many plants have poisonous and edible parts. Some like poke accumulate toxins as they mature. Read up before eating up!
Know how to safely prepare your harvest before you eat it. For example, elderberries should be either cooked or made into wine before consuming.
Consider the area where you are harvesting. How safe is it? Has the area been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides? Is the plant growing in polluted water or soil? Busy road sides are often contaminated.
Don’t eat too much of any new food. Some people are extremely allergic to certain foods, and wild foods are no exception. Most allergic reactions are mild, but if you tend to have lots of food allergies your chances may be greater for an adverse reaction, including a serious one.
Don’t eat wild edible plants if you are pregnant or taking medications. Plants are “chemical factories” and to be on the safe side, it’s best not to risk some unexpected chemical interactions.
Don’t rely on only one person, one book or one website for your knowledge about wild edible and poisonous plants. Enjoy the research and the search!
Don’t rely on common names when doing your research on plants you plan to harvest. While you don’t need to start speaking “botaneze’ you will want the plants you investigate to be the same plants throughout your research.
Be cautious when presenting wild edibles around children. Harvesting wild edibles can provide fun and food for the family, but be aware that very young children may not be able to make the important distinctions between similar looking plants.
Don’t assume something is safe to eat just because you watch some little animal eat the plant. Many animals can handle toxins that we can’t.