Within the infant rind of this weak flower
Poison hath residence and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant. (2.2.1)
Romeo & Juliet
Under no circumstances should any one indiscriminately gather wild plants and use for food. This is of course dangerous and foolish. Many types of poisonous plants exist in the wild, some of which look like some edible species. Only gather those plants that you know are edible. Several important rules of guidelines should be followed.
Common Sense Guidelines
- Always go collecting with a person who can identify wild foods until you are able to do so yourself.
- Be conservation minded and pick only a few plants from one spot.
- Do not eat plants that grow in polluted water or beside a roadway. Many roadside plants contain high concentrations of lead absorbed from exhaust fumes.
- Never gather and eat wild mushrooms unless you are absolutely sure of their edibility. Even the experts make mistakes when dealing with mushrooms.
Following these rules will provide the wild food forager a safe and fulfilling hobby.
- Take along and use a field guide to edible wild plants.
- Do not pick those plants that are rare or endangered.
- Only eat small amounts of wild plants at first. All plants may not agree with your system.
- Wash and clean all foods before eating.