Foraging has played an essential part in human survival since the beginning of our species. Even today, when convenience is key to almost everything that we do, it is still possible to eat wild food when camping and getting back in touch with nature. However, before you go setting your eyes on every piece of fruit and plant that you find on your next camping trip, it’s important to know what you shouldn’t eat. Some plants are toxic when consumed or prepared incorrectly, and you wouldn’t want to spoil a relaxing camping trip with a bad stomach upset, or even a toxic reaction.
So that you’re prepared on your next trip, be sure to familiarize yourself with these four plants that you should never eat when camping out.
Mushrooms & Other Fungi
While some mushrooms provide essential nutrition and are used in culinary classics around the world, there are far more species that are inedible and highly toxic. When camping, it’s best to avoid any and all mushrooms or other fungi. There are so many varieties that it would be almost impossible to classify and identify them all for the purpose of foraging on a camping trip, so the safest thing is to avoid them altogether.
These bright flowers can be found in many parts of the world, and unfortunately for some unsuspecting campers, the bulbs are often misidentified as onions. When daffodil bulbs or plants are consumed they can cause mild to severe stomach upset, which leads to diarrhea and dehydration. The reaction is more severe in children, and the worst cases can require hospitalization for fluid replacement therapy. If you think you’ve found some onion bulbs, check the general area for flowering daffodil plants. It’s important to note that wild onions will be incredibly rare around popular camping spots.
If camping in Europe, or parts of the Americas, Asia and North Africa, it is possible that you will come across what you might expect to be wild parsley. Again, parsley is a domesticated crop that will be rarely found in large quantities in the wild. What you’re more likely to stumble across, is Fool’s Parsley. This plant will create a noticeable heat in the throat and mouth, which will be followed by stomach pain and vomiting. This wild plant can also cause confusion when ingested by some people. The plant usually has an unpleasant aroma, which can help to identify it when you’re out camping.
American Mandrake – Not Your Ordinary Apple
The ripened fruit on the American Mandrake can resemble an apple, and may appear to be both harmless and appetizing. If consumed in very small quantities, this is partially true, but with too much there is a risk of diarrhea and indigestion. The roots and leaves are also toxic, so it’s best to avoid this one completely.
When you’re out camping and you want to forage and consume what the land provides, make sure you’re exercising good judgement. It is beneficial to first perform some research on the area you’re visiting, and ask local park staff about edible plants in the area. If possible, print out some pictures of both edible and inedible plants so that you’ll never get caught out when enjoying the great outdoors.