Thursday, January 15, 2015

Don't Eat the Christmas Berries

    This may be a little after Christmas, but those of us trying to learn more about nature and foraging (especially if you are ever lost in the woods!) need be weary of the many red berries we see around Christmas time. Like holly berries, which come from the female tree-- yes, some trees are like that, carrying the female parts and fruit, with male parts on other trees of the same species. There a number of different holly trees on the Radford University campus, and the red berries produced are poisonous. Maybe one berry wouldn't hurt much, but poisonous parts of plants in nature make people very ill, or the case of certain plants, like jimson weed or  poison hemlock, downright deadly.
      So don't let the kids or cats eat the holly berries that may be part of Christmas wreaths. The white berries of mistletoe, that little sprig you put overhead in order to garner a kiss, also are not healthy, the leaves even moreso than the berries and cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, not fun things to happen to you during the holiday.
     Wintertime and the woods seem rather brown and bare, and the bright berries on display then are for the birds, though they aren't the birds' first choice.

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