Each year, many people from around the world are poisoned, some fatally by certain wild plants and fungi. A common misconception is that everything that grows wild is ‘edible’, especially if animals are seen to be eating whatever plant or tree it may be. I am startled by some of the stupid things people have told me they’ve done - anything from eating any mushroom that’s white, or eating any plant root which has been cooked! The truth is that many plants are edible, and usually outweigh poisonous or deadly species, but, there are always some plants and fungi, even trees, that are poisonous, and some of which are deadly. Anyone who is not completely sure of the identification should not consume something just because they ‘heard’ or ‘thought’ it was safe to eat. Cooking does not always break down harmful toxins!
Take this story from today where TV celebrity chef Antony Worrall-Thompson has been reported as recommending eating henbane hyoscyamus niger. This is a very toxic plant which has been responsible for many deaths. In fact, the infamous Dr Crippen used henbane to poison his wife. If consumed, symptoms from this plant include convulsions, impaired vision and even respiratory and heart failure, resulting in coma and death.
The world of plant identification is a difficult one, and many people make mistakes. It’s easily done, but for a mistake such as this to reach print I find quite astonishing. I’m sure in this case it was just an honest blunder, and not something that he deserves to be persecuted for. But it just highlights the fact that care must always be taken when dealing with wild foods.
CLICK HERE for the full story.
Catch you on the trail