Edibility Tips

Not Safe

  • White, green, and yellow berries.  Nearly all are poisonous.
  • Never eat the berry (or the leaves) from a plant that has a milky sap.
  • 50% of red berries are poisonous, so unless you can positively identify it, it is not worth the risk to eat it.
  • Avoid any leaves or seeds with an almond-like scent, a characteristic of cyanide compounds.

Safer

  • 70% of soft berries are safe.  So (red and soft) improves your odds.
  • 90% of purple, blue, and black berries are safe.
  • Aggregate berries (small fruit pieces joined tightly together at a base to make a larger fruit) such as raspberries and blackberries are almost always safe to eat.
  • Edible plants that taste bitter, such as acorns, should be boiled in several changes of water in order to remove the tanic acid.

Survival expert, Mykel Hawke , gives this handy mnemonic for remembering which berries are safe to eat in the wild.

“White and yellow, kill a fellow.
Purple and blue, good for you.
Red… could be good, could be dead.”

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