Poisonous Species

When learning to forage, it is more important to familiarise yourself with poisonous than edible species. Though truly dangerous species are much rarer than some people think, there is no room for complacency as there are a dozen or so deadly plants and fungi that grow in Galloway. The most dangerous of these resemble or grow alongside good edible species. These should be at the forefront any forager’s mind when harvesting.

Deathcap, foxglove and hemlock water-dropwort – all lethally poisonous

Please do not be put off by these dire warnings. Deadly nightshade is part of the potato family and hemlock is closely related to carrot, but we don’t disregard tatties and carrots because of their disreputable relatives. It is all about taking an interest in all you encounter and learning to recognise the features that differentiate them.

 

Here are the plants and fungi you should learn to recognise first based on toxicity, similarity to edible species and your likelihood of coming across them in Galloway.

Photos and more details will be added as species come into season.

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LETHAL – ingestion of even small amounts potentially deadly.

Hemlock water-dropwort

 

 

 

 

 

Hemlock

 

 

 

 

 

Foxglove

 

 

 

 

 

Death cap

 

 

 

 

 

Funeral Bells

 

 

 

 

 

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HIGHLY TOXIC – Potentially life threatening

Cortinarius Speciossimus

Fools Parsley

Yew

Woody Nightshade

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TOXIC – Likely to cause serious illness but seldom fatal

Lords and Ladies – Arum maculatum

Lords and Ladies leaf, Annan, March

 

 

Lords and Ladies berry spike, Bargennan, July

 


A fairly common plant in old shady woodlands, scrub and hedgerows. Strong irritant. Young leaves can be mistaken for sorrel, but lacks sharp backward-pointing lobes on leaf base.

 

Dog Mercury - Mercurialis perrenis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typical trooping, upright colony

Dog mercury

Large colonies common in verges, hedges and woods – recognisable from upright growth. Similar to Good King Henry (unknown in Galloway), but take care not to pick it along with ramsons.

 

 

Suphur Tuft

Yellow Stainer

Panther Cap

 

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WORK IN PROGRESS – This is by no means an exhaustive list.