8

I know that there are exceptions to every rule. Like for example not all plants with leaves in groups of 3 are poisonous.

Also there is mimicry in some plants to deter animals from eating it even though it isn't poisonous.

So is there a way to tell without having to do this sequence of steps:

1) Separate the parts of the plant.

2) Check for worms.

3) Put parts of the plant on your skin making sure to wait 8 hours before testing the next part. If it is contact poisonous discontinue the testing of that part.

4) Put the part of the plant that isn't contact poisonous on your lip and wait 8 hours. If there are any side effects discontinue the testing.

5) Put the part of the plant that isn't contact poisonous on your tongue without chewing and wait 8 hours. If there are any side effects discontinue the testing.

6) Chew the part of the plant that isn't contact poisonous and wait 8 hours. If there are any side effects discontinue the testing.

7) Swallow the part of the plant that isn't contact poisonous and wait 8 hours. If there are any side effects discontinue the testing.

8) Optional: Cook the plant and test the same way you did the raw plant. Sometimes poison in raw plants isn't there in cooked plants.

  • Just to get this straight: are we talking about bringing home some unknown plants from a stroll through the forest or is this about being somewhere out in a survival situation with no access to other information resources? – Benedikt Bauer Feb 28 '16 at 21:58
  • Well I do have the survival tag there so I assume that it is about being somewhere out in the wilderness with no access to information about which plants are poisonous. – Caters Feb 29 '16 at 3:16
  • Well, bow that you say it... Maybe stating that directly in the question text would make it more clear. The answers that you got so far are more towards the "brought home something unknown". – Benedikt Bauer Feb 29 '16 at 9:49
  • The version of the universal edibility test I'm familiar with only has 15 min between most parts, 8 hours is only after part 3 (contact test) and part 7 (taste test). There is also one more step, eating a small amount (quarter cup) with an additional waiting period, before declaring the food alright to eat - so 17-25 hrs, not 40ish, and a more realistic time-frame for holding in the mouth. Also, there's no need to test raw if one actually plans to eat it cooked, which will help cut time down (cook between steps 3 and 4). – Megha Aug 4 '17 at 5:54
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There are no foolproof ways to tell if something you picked in the woods is edible. Figure out what species it is and look it up. If you've got time to wait 8 hours for a reaction you've got time to check a couple books. When it comes to mushrooms join your local mycological society. IDing mushrooms from a picture is far from foolproof and there are some pretty common ones out there that will kill you.

It's not that hard to learn the common plants in an area; and there are websites you can submit photos to if you're really stuck. (including a couple forums on this one). If it's a garden plant take it to your local nursery and ask them.

2

Yes and No...

The no is addressed in the answers at How can I identify edible berries/fruit from poisonous?

Yes, two options.

  1. Modern Science method; Take the suspect plant to a lab for testing. Wait for the results, pay the bill, knowledge acquired in 3 easy steps.

  2. Redneck method; Eat a large portion, if you survive without ill effects it is probably not poisonous. Care should be taken with this approach, as an example the Amanita muscaria is classified as poisonous but is harvested and consumed by some populations.

  • Also some plants (like those Aminita mushrooms, for instance) have delayed effects, where you may feel ill, then "recover" only to die several days later. – jamesqf Feb 29 '16 at 4:10
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*I would think the best way to be safe would to know the plants of the area you plan to explore. Being dumped in an unknown wilderness like a plane crash or something catastrophic then I would still be very cautious of the environment I am in, local libraries and searching online for your area of exploration would certainly help/

  • 2
    Something more specific would be more helpful. After all "Check your library or google" could arguably be the answer to pretty much any question on the internet. – Russell Steen Feb 29 '16 at 19:21

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