Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How to avoid eating poisonous plants during hiking emergency

While a dandelion is edible, avoid eating its stem, which contains a milky sap.
Photo courtesy of Photoree.
During a hiking emergency, the time may came when you need to forage to get you by for a few hours until you reach safety. To forage, though, you’ll need to know which plants to avoid – that is, which plants are poisonous.

Generally, any wild plants with the following characteristics are poisonous (or they at least will make you very sick and hence dehydrate you):
g Almond-like scent
g Beans, bulbs or seeds inside a pod
g Black or pink spurs on grain heads
g Group of three leaves
g Milky sap
g Shiny leaves
g Spines, thorns or hairs on stem (exceptions are plants with aggregate berries, such as blackberries and raspberries)
g Umbrella-shaped flowers
g White berries

In addition, just because you've seen an animal eat a plant, don’t presume it’s safe for you. Those animals have evolved to eat that type of plant. For example. birds often enjoy holly berries, but they are toxic to virtually all other animals.

Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.