Forage Friday #88 Privet – Toxic

Hello Friends! Tonight’s Feature Image is titled “Privet Berries 113020” and is available for purchase by clicking the thumbnail and reaching out to me on the contact page.

Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice. In addition, Privet is a toxic plant that in a survival situation could produce symptoms that are counterproductive to survival.

Folk tales are full of forbidden fruit archetypes. The poison apple is a classic. And although these cautionary tales have a symbolic reference to morality the dangers of a fruit that looks yummy but could wind up costing a unwise traveler their life is very real. Privet is just such a plant. In several of plant forums I belong to there’s always a novice that posts a picture of beautiful berries that are available at a time of year when there’s not much to forage on. Of course those of us have learned about Privet are quick to point out that it is a toxic plant and sometimes that warning is given with exuberance that can come off as being harsh. I like to believe that’s only because they care and are frightened for the poster. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We’re all a novice in some areas. According to Wikipedia, Privet is a mild toxin under normal circumstances. Symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting and one online source advises to seek medical attention if more than 5 berries are consumed. They go on to warn that for some people just contact with the leaves and berries can cause rash and that smelling the flowers causes respiratory distress. Hence the extra caution in tonight’s disclaimer. I presume that the medical professionals would treat the poison with pumping the stomach and activated charcoal. Because the modern world has such wonderful equipment and training it’s likely that the victim would survive. But a lot of people are exploring the world of foraging in relation to wilderness survival. Food is actually the lowest priority in a sudden survival situation. The first priority being shelter, then fire, then water and food is last. The higher priorities will usually require a bit of effort. A person suffering from the symptoms of Privet poisoning will not be as capable of doing the physical work needed to build shelter and gather firewood and diarrhea will cause dehydration making the need for water even more urgent.

Image Titled “Privet Berries 113020bw” and shows the color of the berries.

The confusion over the ediblilty of Privet Berries is understandable. In nature we see a lot of blue and purple berries that are edible. Our minds automatically associate those colors with things like grapes, blackberries, blueberries and elderberries. So naturally we see these colors and our reflexes are to expect the same pleasant experience.

Wikipedia and other sources also say that private is used in traditional Chinese medicine. The leaves and inner bark are used to treat diarrhea, ulcers chapped lips and sore throat. Skin problems are treated by using it to wash the area. But I also read that warning about how contact with the foliage causes a reaction.

In closing thoughts the two biggest things to remember are that it’s good to get a positive ID so never be afraid to ask before you try a new plant and remember that just because your instincts tell you that a plant looks good to eat doesn’t mean you’re instincts are right.

That’s it for the first Forage Friday post of 2021.

Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.

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Dwarf Larkspur

Hello Friends! Tonight’s feature image is titled “Dwarf Larkspur 41120a” and is available for purchase by the instructions at the bottom of the article.

The rains have come and gone and come again for days after days. But April showers bring May flowers. Don’t They? Well, sort of. These actually began blooming in April. And while they are sometimes mistaken for violets ( Specifically Bird’s Foot Violets) but these are not even in the violet family. This is Dwarf Larkspur.

Image Titled “Dwarf Larkspur 41120b showing the flower spike.

Before I actually started to blog about the wildlife in my mountains Larkspur was one of those plants that I knew the name but because I didn’t really use it for food or medicine I just kinda ignored it. As it turns out it has an interesting Native American lore linking to it. One that I’ve only learned a few minutes ago is that Native Americans told the story of a sky woman who wanted to visit the Earth below and made a spike from the evening sky to climb down. But at some point in the story the sky breaks and the pieces turn into Larkspur flowers.

Larkspur is the same family of flowers as Aconitum or what’s better know as Monk’s Hood or Wolfsbane. Ranunculaceae which is the buttercups. Knowing that makes me wonder how many pioneers tried to make charms to keep away vampires and werewolves from it like they would have used Monk’s Hood.

Larkspur is listed in older texts as a medical plant but it’s deadly toxic. It’s on par with foxglove and I have to wonder if Native Americans used it to poison arrows and darts the way my European ancestors would have used the “Wolfsbane”. However, since there hasn’t been a werewolf or vampire sighting here in the past 200 years I decided to leave the Larkspur where I found it and move on. I did however note the location just in case. 😉

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Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

If you would like to Follow me on Facebook the web address is

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If you’re enjoying my blog and don’t want to miss a post then you can sign up for email alerts on my website.

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Have you checked out the Zazzle Store?

I’m now using Zazzle to fulfil orders. What this means for you is a secure way to place an order, discount codes & a broader product selection! Simplymessage me on Facebookoruse the contact form on my websiteand tell me which image you want and I’ll reply with a direct link to where you can place the order.

Clicking on the photo takes you tohttps://www.zazzle.com/lloydslensphotos?rf=238248269630914251

Lastly, all of the photos and writings are my original work unless otherwise specified and are not to be copied or reproduced without expressed written permission from the photographer

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