How to Tell If a Wild Berry Is Edible or Non-Edible?
Many berries that grow in the wild are tasty and harmless if eaten. If you are on a hiking trip or camping in the wild, and stumble upon a bush full of luscious looking berries, you may be tempted to eat a handful. Although many are safe to eat, be aware that some berries are poisonous. Stay safe in the wild by knowing if a berry is edible or non-edible.
Examine the wild berry and the plant that it is growing on. Note the size, shape and color of the berry. Count the number of leaves on one of the branches. Check the size and shape of the leaves, along with the color. Stay away from berries that are white or yellow.
Consult a field guide to find a description of the berries and plant. Use a field guide that has color photos in order to make identification more accurate. Compare the physical characteristics that you have noted about the berries and plant with the information in the field guide. Use the comparison to determine if the berry is edible or non-edible.
Eat just one or two of the berries if you have established that the berries are edible. Use purified bottled water to rinse the fruit before you eat it. Wait at least two hours for the berries to digest in case you have a reaction to the fruit before eating additional berries.
Wild Berry Trees And Shrubs
Both shrubs and trees produce a rainbow of wild berries. Don't eat wild berries unless you can properly identify the plant. Plums have a sweet, yet slightly acidic, flavor. The size and shape of the berries varies greatly. Wild raspberry shrubs produce a wide variety of berries, depending on the species. Latham, Royalty, Bristol, Allen and Black Hawk are just a few of the many summer-bearing raspberry bushes. Most bushes grow sweet berries, but some types, such as Brandywine, have a slightly sour taste. Elderberries grow on shrubs reaching 4 to 12 feet tall. Sandcherry shrubs grow 1 to 5 feet tall and produce round or oblong-shaped purplish-black berries in summer.
Do not use a field guide to determine if a wild berry is poisonous after you have eaten it. If you think that you may have eaten something questionable, get help immediately. Contact the nearest poison control center at once and give detailed information about the berry.
- Go Forth and Frolic; A Pacific Northwest wild berry primer; August 2008
- The Univeristy of Maine: Michigan Lowbush Blueberries
- University of Minnesota Extension: Wild and Edible Fruits of Minnesota
- Fall Creek Nursery: Variety Chart
- Ohio State University; Raspberries for the Backyard Fruit Planting; Gary Gao