Which Berries Are Safe to Eat?

Home & Family,Outdoors
February 12, 2012

Your guide to safe outdoor foraging

Nothing ruins a wilderness hike faster than getting lost and having to subsist on wild berries for a week — unless you get lost, have to subsist on wild berries for a week and accidentally eat poisonous ones. Here's a list of edible berries to help you avoid the latter.

Blackberries. Because cell phones are useless in the wilderness, the blackberries that grow on plants along the side of roads, near streams and in open fields are your best chance for survival. Blackberries are more a dark purple than black and are a bumpy fruit, or, as the experts would say, they're an aggregate fruit formed by drupelets.

Raspberries. Black and blue colored berries are more likely to be non-poisonous than red berries in the wild. One exception is the raspberry. Raspberries are similar to blackberries in appearance with the exception of their color. They are small and round and have tiny hairs on the surface of the fruit. They are usually red but other colored varieties exist. Their leaves are pointed and toothy, and the cane of a red raspberry plant is light red.

Blueberries. Berry names lack creativity. That, however, makes them easy to identify if you're lost in the wild. Blueberries, as the name implies, are light blue and grow in open, sunny areas near water. Blueberry bushes are frequented by wild birds and other wild animals, so make a lot of noise to scare away potential diners before you enter a blueberry-filled area — or you may have a little competition for lunch.

Wild cherries. According to Mother Earth News, if you find a bright red, juicy berry growing in abundance on trees and it tastes good, it's OK to eat. If it tastes sour, spit it out and move on. So if you come across a tree that produces a fruit that looks like a cherry, pick one and taste it. If it tastes sour, spit it out. If it tastes like a cherry, it probably is. Enjoy.

Wild strawberries. These look a lot like strawberries you'd find in a store except instead of finding them in small, plastic crates next to a bag of oranges, you'll find them attached to plants on hillsides and woodlands. They're also considerably smaller than commercially produced strawberries.

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