Wild parsnip , Not for the wary forager

This is probably the most difficult post I’ve made regarding wild edibles as I’ve been pondering on the ramifications of this plant as a foragable resource and if the promotion of its foragability alone is an act of irresponsibility in itself or is it more responsible to promote awareness of hazards within foraging ,
I think back to my first seasons of foraging and I can say it was without eating a single plant , mushroom or wild edible I made a pact with myself to be able to identify the dangers of foraging before I could find the prizes mainly rammed into me by my father who had a keen interest in the outdoors and in a time when foraging was less publicly deemed as an exciting skill .

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The edible nightshade (Solanum nigrum)

I’m writing this post as recently there was a post on twitter from a person I follow with a picture of a black nightshade plant found growing within her tomatoes and the majority of the comments were that the plant was a nightshade and so poisonous .
Nightshade is on its own a word that we recognise as a warning , not only in forager terms but most country living people regard the family in its entirety as a group of deadly poisonous plants and in all honesty I was of the same opinion until foraging became an interest .

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Hemlock water dropwort . Dead mans smile

Horse bane , dead mans fingers

(Oenanthe crocata)

One of the things I’ve noticed I’m missing from my writing is probably the most important thing to learn with any wild food and foraging “what not to eat ” and the nastys that hide amongst our favourite wild edibles .
The first dangerous plant that I ever learnt was hemlock water drop wort and that not because it is one of the most poisonous plants around or that after eating you will have about three hours before you meet your maker but because it is so easy to get it mixed up with some of the most favoured edible plants we look for as foragers ( Alexander’s , wild parsnip ,celery ) .
To be fair it is generally mistaken for celery with the stems and leaves and wild parsnip with the roots more than any other similar plant .
Water drop wort is a member of a group of plants called Apiaceae or Umbelliferae most commonly known as the carrot family .
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The fairy flower

Hyacinthoides non-scripta, bluebell

It’s that exciting time of the year for any forager when all of the spring greens are beginning to show and probably the most commonly collected for even the beginner the wild ramson
( wild garlic Allium ursinum ) but with this comes a hazard which is a common sight in the countryside of most of the uk ,the bluebell.
Funnily enough I feel it’s one of the prettiest flowers we have and when sitting in the woodland which is carpeted with bluebells you can’t help but to be lifted by it’s truly majestic sight .
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