Picture this: there we are in the Joshua tree desert, just walking along, when I notice a beautiful plant I know and love, and often buy from the grocery store: ground cherry! Well, I get excited and start eating a whole bunch, and Luke and his mom eat one cherry each. Lucas, in an attempt to bust my balls, goes: isn’t this a nightshade? Nightshades, a family of plants, have both very poisonous members, such as Bella Donna or bittersweet nightshade, but also very edible ones such as tomatoes and peppers. All of
A sudden I start to panic: am I sure of my identification? I’ve never seen this plant in the wild! We turn on the iPad Audubon app and lo and behold, Audubon calls this plant extremely poisonous. Fast forward ten minutes, and we are all on the side of the road with our fingers down our throats, forcing ourselves to puke up this supposedly toxic plant.
Well! Upon further research, Audubon was WRONG. Only the unripe fruit is poisonous, once yellow it is safe to eat. Thank god! But this was a good learning experience. Here are the things I discovered:
– I need to trust myself. I really do know my plants
– I need to slow the f down. I get excited about new things and don’t think through sometimes
– I need to be a thousand percent sure of my ID if I’m going to feed it to other people
– Audubon guides suck and give you misinformation
It was a whole roller coaster of an experience and I’m glad the outcome was what it was: the fruit out of our system, and it being edible in the first place. But nature is a powerful thing and though it provides, it can take away, too.
This was a really good lesson.