Wild Arkansas

October 15, 2008

Toxic Berry – Lowell

Filed under: foraging, herbs, toxic plants — Tags: , — WildArkansas @ 12:43 am

Solanum Americanum, or the American Nightshade is beginning to fruit in the area.

This specimen has only shown its fruit within the past week. The berries are black with several seeds inside.

Do not eat green berries. Though some references say it has been used for medicinal purposes, parts of this plant are toxic.

Green Deane of Eat the Weeds, kindly took the time to do some additional research. Here’s what he found:

On page 30 of her book “Plants Poisonous to People” ISBN 0-87024-336-5, [Julia S. Morton] writes (about Solanum americanum Mill.) “TOXICITY: Ripe fruit are widely eaten raw or cooked. Young shoots and leaves are cooked and eaten like spinach, but cooking water should be discarded.” She goes on to say the plant also can accumulate nitrates. Thirty-five grams of unripe fruit killed a rabbit. Two pounds of ripe fruit did not bother sheep. In 129 years she found three references to illness caused by the unripe berries, all related to children. One in 1866 died, the other two, 1966 and 1978, recovered.

In her book “Wild Plants for Survival In South Florida” ISBN 0-916224-77-5 on page 61 she states “green fruit contains solanine and are toxic; ripe fruit subacid, edible raw (M) or cooked. An improved form is cultivated as the “garden huckleberry” or “wonderberry.” Young leaves and stems cooked as greens.”

You can also read the wikipedia article on the plant.

And read the article at Missouriplants.com


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