When we tend a garden, we know what plants are in our beds. We may forget what varieties of vegetables we planted where or get the occasional volunteer plant, but for the most part, we can be pretty confident which plants are food and which are weeds.
However, when we are out foraging plant identification isn’t so simple. Many plants that are considered weeds in the suburbs will be considered food when SHTF.
Foraging can provide a meal in the spring when canned goods are running thin, and the garden hasn’t begun to yield its bounty.
Related: The 5 Most Common Edible Weeds In Your State
Knowing which plants are edible is only the first step in plant foraging. It is essential to be able to recognize not only the edible plants but their poisonous look-alikes.
Always consult with an expert in local botany before consuming any plant you are not 100 percent familiar with. Often eating a poisonous look-alike can be deadly.
Keep your eye out for these dangerous plant look-alikes when you are out foraging!
Almonds – Sweet or Bitter
There are two varieties of almonds, sweet or bitter. Commercial almonds, the type of almonds that we buy at the grocery store, are obviously sweet almonds.
But most almond trees you can expect to find in the wild are going to be of the bitter variety. Don’t be tempted to tough out the taste of these bitter nuts.
While we can eat the sweet variety without any processing, bitter almonds contain deadly amounts of cyanide. Just a handful of nuts can kill a child, and it takes less than a hundred to kill an adult!
Distinguishing between the two varieties can be difficult to do. So it is best to avoid any almond trees you aren’t 100 percent certain are edible.
Wild Carrot VS Poison Hemlock
Wild carrot, also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, is known for both its edible and medicinal qualities. All parts of the plant are edible – if not always particular palatable.
The carrot-like roots are tough and stringy but can be used to impart flavor to stocks and soups. The leaves can be eaten when young and are best when cooked.
However, use extreme caution when harvesting wild carrots. It is easily confused with poison hemlock.
Related: How To Tell The Difference Between The Healing “Queen Anne’s Lace” And Deadly “Hemlock”
Poison hemlock, as the name suggests, is incredibly poisonous! Both plants produce umbrella-shaped clusters of tiny white petaled flowers. However, they can be distinguished by the stems and flowers more carefully.
Poison hemlock has purple splotches on hairless stems, different from the hairy wild carrot. The wild carrot will feature an umbrella-shaped cluster on a hairy stem, often with a red or purplish flower in the center.
Wild carrot is also smaller, rarely growing about three feet in contrast to the taller Poison Hemlock, which can reach 6 feet or taller.
Ramps VS Lily of the Valley
Ramps are a spring favorite among foragers. Unlike many edible wild foods, ramps are actually delicious.
They have a unique oniony-garlicky flavor that just doesn’t compare to anything you will find on the grocery store shelves. As a bonus, they sprout in early spring, making them a popular tonic after a long winter without fresh greens.
However, make sure you use care when harvesting ramps. Ramps can easily be confused with Lily of the Valley, a poisonous look-alike.
While the plants are similar-looking at first glance, it is easy to tell them apart once you know the differences.
First, look at the stem. Ramps will have one to two leaves that are each on their own stem. Whereas lily of the valley will have just one stem with multiple leaves wrapped around it.
The roots are also different. Ramps have a bulb, like a small onion with roots coming out of the bottom. Lily of the Valley does not have a bulb. The roots grow along the stem.
A final way to distinguish them is the smell. Ramps have a distinctive onion odor, indicative of the delicious flavor they can impart to your meal. Simply break off a leaf and sniff. If you don’t smell anything, then chances are it’s lily of the valley.
Since lily of the valley is a common house plant, it can be useful to examine one before you go foraging for ramps to make sure you understand the differences.
Blueberries VS Nightshade
Who doesn’t love foraging for wild blueberries? I remember as a kid going out with a basket to harvest the wild berries from the bushes in the woods near my home.
Related: 20 Wild Plants That Kept Our Grandparents Alive During The Great Depression
But it is important not to confuse blueberries with their deadly look-alike- nightshade.
Wild blueberries are often smaller than what you find at the store, which can lead to confusion when you are foraging. You can tell the berries on the bush are blueberries by the distinctive five-pointed crown we all know. Only blueberries have that.
Nightshade berries are small, dark bluish-black, and look truly delicious, just like blueberries. However, while some varieties of nightshade berries are edible many deadly. So it is best to avoid all berries in the nightshade family.
Beans and Peas VS Wisteria
There are many edible varieties of peas and beans, but wisteria, while also a member of the Fabaceae or legume family, is not one of them.
A popular plant for its purple blossoms, it is easy to confuse wisteria with its other edible cousins.
Like edible peas and beans, after wisteria flowers, it produces long green pods full of seeds.
These seeds look just like peas or beans you would buy at the store. However, consuming only as few as two wisteria peas can be fatal to a child.
Now the beautiful purple wisteria blossoms are not toxic and can be consumed and used to make syrups.
Foraging is a wonderful way to add unique flavors to your diet.
However, it is essential to be absolutely certain of your plant identification when you are eating food from the forest.
These common dangerous plant look-alikes are not the only poisonous plants out there. It is always best to learn from an experienced forager who can clearly show you how to distinguish between the delicious and the deadly.
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FYI: Sorry to stray off topic but this is very important.
There is an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in at
least thirteen states as of this past Monday.
The disease has infected mostly chickens and turkeys in large
commercial flocks as well as backyard flocks.So far nearly three
million birds have been killed in an attempt to stop the spread.
There has been no mention of this in the MSM.We will have to
draw our own conclusions as to how or who started this.
For details go to Michael Snyders site.theeconomiccollapseblog.com
This is the most common Avian Flu, there are constant small outbreaks all over the world, sometimes larger outbreaks. Wild birds move it around the world, detected in wild birds in U.S. in December, a few weeks later it began spreading in chickens. Not a threat to humans. Not a sneaky diabolical plot. The link is clik bait, surprise.
Just a scam by the goobermint to kill chickens and raise food prices
B-17!!! LAETRILE!! NON-IRRADIATED ALMONDS OR APRICOT SEEDS DO HAVE *TRACE* AMOUNTS OF CYANIDE.
PERHAPS MORE RESEARCH NEED BE DONE TO SEE IF THEIR ARE COMPONENTS OR ENZYMES THAT REDUCE THE EFFECTS OF THE CYANIDE. THIS I DO NOT KNOW.
THESE SEEDS CAN BE BENEFISCIAL FOR SOME BUT OF COURSE IN SMALL DOSE/QUANTITIES. Never for a childs consumption.
Laetrile fights cancer.
The seeds of a great many fruits contain cyanide. Apple seeds, peach seeds, apricot seeds. However the amount is so minute, that one would have to eat an impossibly large quantity of such seeds in order to have the cyanide contained there in be harmful.
Any time someone talks about such and such “curing” cancer, they are repeating a baseless urban legend. Ignore it. Read about cancer if you are concerned about it. There are numerous books written about cancer in general and specific cancers. Some cancers are amenable to chemical treatment. Some cancers are only treated by mechanical means. Some cancers need more than one methodology of treatment and some cancers are alway fatal as they are not treatable by any means presently known by medical technology.
The snake oil salesman with his miracle potion always has an out when his miraculous “cure” fails, “If only you had come to me sooner, I could have saved you.”
Don’t misunderstand my position. I am a walking, talking testimonial to the failure of individual doctors to perform to standards of care. On the other hand, I am also a walking, talking testimonial to the curative miracles of modern medical practice and modern drugs.
I lived in an age where every kid got chicken pox, mumps, measles and all too frequently, whooping cough, scarlet fever, diphtheria and a whole host of other contagious diseases. I can remember seeing the yellow and red quarantine cards on doors indicating diphtheria or scarlet fever.
When was the last time you saw a young child with a hare lip or who talked strangely because they had a cleft palette? When was the last time you saw a hunchback? A club foot? All of those conditions have been largely or totally eliminated from modern life due to medical or surgical intervention.
I won’t even mention the scourge that polio wreaked among young people and even adults. That’s why FDR was crippled. He had polio at a fairly late age and it left him crippled although the press never mentioned it.
Do you have a dental implant? As recently as 1980 you would get a mechanical bridge if you lost a tooth.
So like everything human, there are quacks in the medical profession. There are incompetents and their are medicos who really are miracle workers. There are drugs available that are useless as we have seen with the recent CoVD drugs. There are drugs that have been abused by both the vendor and the patient. Do you remember oxycodone?
So do not think that I am either a drum beater for all modem medical practices nor a denier that everything modern medicine uses is a worthless ripoff. As in any professional field there are the incompetents and the outright quacks. Using cyanide to “cure” cancer is one of the quacks.
Judge Holden: I will not get into a pissing match with you over
the veracity of the information. I will say that I’ve known Michael
Snyder to post nothing but accurate and truthful information.
I’m not up on all of the current jargon. What is “click bait”.??
I don’t know about a p contest, I’m 74 but I’ve still got arc, so watch out.
Clik bait is a link that, rather than going to the referenced article goes to a web site where the most prominent feature is a a banner reading CLICK HERE. Once I saw that banner I was not willing to clik anywhere. If M Snyder is serious about his articles he needs to clean up his website or nobody will read further.
Okay, dang it, I pushed through the ads and read a couple articles on the site, can’t complain about anybody who is looking at things beyond the propaganda storm our Government has unleashed. Recipe sites have a tremendously annoying amount of advertising to get through, I had to delete 10 to get through a couple articles on collapseblog. He needs to do like askaprepper and put all the advertising in sidebars instead of interrupting the article.
Raven tactical Prepper expert:: A plot by which goobermint? I would bet that it’s the slant eyed rice eatin little bastards.
Not the people but the CCP
What ever! Ifin ya like chicken ya better get a bunch!
been raising Chickens for 6 years and on avg keep bout 25 to 30 hens and two roosters. Doing meat chickens this year as well should be getting 30 of those as well.
Avian flu will affect the commercial markets, so along with all the supply chain shortages already happening and skyrocketing inflation driven prices, it’s probably a good idea to stock up your freezers now before the price of chicken goes higher. Also shop for pork, it’s fluctuating up and down a lot, but I did find some good quality boneless pork loin for $2.50/LB in a Navy Commissary. Beef is still way overpriced, even for ground it’s $4-$5 /LB, even up into the $20’s for higher priced cuts.
Hunger is apt to get real.
Michael Snyder is sometimes incorrect, alarmist and so on but even a broken analog clock is right twice a day.
Bird flu like many other diseases can be crippling on a poultry system reeling from lack of fertilizer and fuel for feed grains and such. I’d get really concerned if somehow a cow and swine disease “accidently” wandered into our current mess.
Folks that think wildcrafting foods is going to feed them, should ask those in Bosnia that HAD to find herb-grass stew for dinner.
Plant potatoes folks the hungry belly you fill might be your own.
For any newbies uncertain of what to plant in a garden or how many chickens to raise if any check out Icangrow.com.
The lady presenting the info gives the best options with the expected caloric availability for a starter garden & hen house or rabbitry.
Her information is short and succinct with years of experience to back it up.
Again, geared more for the newbie but still has some pearls of wisdom for the more experienced homesteader.
Mterndog, I searched for exactly “Icangrow.com” and the first attempt came up with variations, such as “cangrow.com” that is for major agriculture. The second attempt showed “ICANGROW.COM is for sale” for $10,000.00. Is your reference to Icangrow.com for a legitimate gardening site? If so, please post the complete link, I’d like to see what information is available.
I tried a third time on YouTube and found this, is this what you are referencing?
Ah. Sorry. Icangrowfood.com.
I watched her webinar yesterday then went on to other things.
The “new” full we address is correct…I checked it out.
Sidebar, did the pot growing site(s) have any overlapping helpful information?
Again, my apologies for the incomplete address.
Mterndog, I skipped over the pot growing websites, I was looking for the homesteading/gardening site you are referencing, and I don’t care about going “off topic”. You still failed to post a useable link that will open, and searching showed another mixed bag of results.
Here’s an example of a valid and useful link about gardening:
Additionally…that YouTube site is off topic.
Like they say in E.O.D.
You only say oops once.
Amazing post it was. I am going to share it with my friends and family. Thanks for sharing it!