Common names : Morel, True Morel, Sponge Morel, Common Morel
Physical appearance : The morel features a distinctive cap which
resembles a cross-section of a honeycomb. The deep pitting is a
distinguishing feature which differentiates true morels from false ones.
The stem is white to pale yellow whilst the cap is pale brownish cream
and can include grey tones. The cap and stem form one continuous
Edible parts : Stem and cap.
Best places to find : Favours sandy soils, usually under broad
leaved, hard woods. Can be found in pasture land, old orchards, woodland
clearings and recently burnt arable or forest land.
Time of year : Best harvested in early Spring.
Serving suggestions : The pitted nature of the morel’s surface tends
to accumulate a lot of debris and/or insects. Be sure to clean
thoroughly before consumption. NB! - The morel should not be consumed in
its raw state, as it contains a gastrointestinal irritant (hydrazine).
Parboiling or blanching these mushrooms will denature this irritant,
making it safe for human consumption.
Sliced and gently fried in butter with a hint of crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Also good for stews, soups and omelettes.
Other uses : These mushrooms are ideal for freezing and drying and
can be stored for a long time in these states. Morels have also been
used in Chinese medicine to help treat digestive problems and to control
phlegm. Modern scientific research is being carried out, into the anti
viral, anti fatigue and anti tumour properties of the Morel.
NB - Please be sure you know what you are picking. Many plants look
similar to one another and many can be poisonous! Please seek
professional instruction if you are unsure! This is all the more
important whilst dealing with mushrooms. Don’t risk your life!!!
Hi! I was wondering if there are any poisonous plants out in the wild that a person might get mixed up with a non-poisonous plant that looks similar?
Hi there Nonny!
First of a general warning and word of advice: don’t go out and eat random plants that aren’t advertised as edible by a credible source you can trust. Don’t eat them when you aren’t a 100% certain either. Don’t dare other people to eat plants. Just don’t. They could be allergic, you could be allergic, it could be poisonous. It could be all kinds of awful.
This is Daucus carota, also known as wild carrot, bird’s nest, bishop’s lace or Queen Anne’s lace. It’s edible!
This is its lookalike Conium maculatum, also known as (poison) hemlock, spotted parsley or bad man’s oatmeal. In ancient Greece, it was used to execute prisoners. It’s also poisonous to animals. The plants contain an alkaloid called coniine which causes stomach pains, vomiting and progressive paralysis, and it can be fatal.
Vitis labrusca or fox grape would be perfectly harmless.
However, this is Menispermum canadense, also known as Canadian moonseed, common moonseed or yellow parilla. It can be easily mistaken for common grapes to the untrained eye. The fruits and seeds of this plant are poisonous, causing nausea and vomiting, they’re often fatal.
Morchella, or the true morel. Is an edible, very harmless mushroom.
However, it has a potentially deadly (if eaten raw) twin called Gyromitra esculenta which falls into the category of the false morels. (There are several species which belong to the false morels.)
A few common foods that also contain poisons:
The seeds of cherries, peaches, plums, almonds and apricots are poisonous. They contain amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside. It’s highly toxic.
Four or five kidney beans eaten raw can cause nausea vomiting and diarrhoea, and if cooked too low (80°C or 176°F) they’re even five times as toxic as raw.
Mango leaves, stems, peel and sap contain urushiol, which is the same allergen as in poison ivy. It causes a condition called urushiol-induced contact dermatitis. A previous allergic reaction is more likely to cause another.
Raw nutmeg is like really freaky. It contains a naturally occurring insecticide (against insects) and acaricide (against 8-legged crawlies/spiders) called myristicin and it’s possibly neurotoxic. High doses have psychoactive and hallucinogenic effects. You’re somewhere in a state between waking and dreaming all while euphoric and feeling nauseous. Also, including bloodshot eyes and impaired memory. “Nutmeg intoxication has an extremely long delay before the peak is reached, sometimes taking up to seven hours, and effects can be felt for 24 hours, with lingering effects lasting up to 72 hours.”
Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family (Solanaceae) which makes their stems and leaves toxic due to solanine (who would eat those though? don’t cook them!) It upsets your digestive system and your nerves. Tomatine which can be found in leaves, stems and unripe green tomatoes is also toxic, though it’s never present in sufficient amount,
I’m sure you noticed, but none of them are definitely fatal, which is because as a whole the term poisonous applies to plants that cause us humans great discomfort. And in fact, a lot of plants are poisonous, even a great range of them that looks particularly harmless. Though nature is rather diligent in coding red berries as bad™. I’ve also listed a mushroom, even though there’s a technical difference between them and plants, but for the sake of your ask – if you want to accidentally eat something deadly you always have good chances with a mushroom.
There’s a lot of poisonous plants, however, the key is that you have to eat them in many cases. Touch alone in many cases isn’t enough.
On another note: Allergies combined with plants that are highly severe can be deadly. For example, Hedera helix (common ivy) is harmless to the general public, unless you’re severely allergic.
I hope you found something to help you with your writing.