Yesterday, after inspecting the garden between downpours, I discovered a mushroom growing in the middle of one of our flower beds. I always enjoy finding new treats that just spring up without any effort on my part and so I hastily picked it and took it inside.
Then began the doubt period. You know what I mean. It’s the period of time when the “is-this-an-edible-mushroom” thought pops into your mind that continues until you finally do something about it.
I left it on the kitchen counter and went back to it from time to time. Touching, prodding, smelling, feeling – all the while hoping to justify that this mushroom was legitimate but weighing up the consequences if I were wrong.
Thinking that it’s always better to be ‘safe than sorry’ the next step was to research the probability of my mushroom actually being an ‘edible mushroom’ and not some poisonous derivative. Fortunately, I came across this site from the the Western Australian Department of Agriculture [link since removed] that finally settled my mind.
The final outcome – it is an edible mushroom! And, I’m so going to enjoy it grilled in butter tonight. Fattening, I know – but my taste bads are salivating already.
So, now that I’ve correctly assessed one edible plant surely there must be more in my garden and possibly heaps more in the bush trails that I often trek. But when I find something that mildly represents something of edible value, the doubt period commences instantaneously. How do you know whether this leaf, berry, root, tuber etc. is edible or not and is it better just to leave it until you have positive identification?
However, if you’re as curious as I am to discover and learn new things then you won’t settle for always walking away from a possible edible feast. SurvivalIQ.com have a Universal Edibility Test on their site which gives some very helpful steps in attempting to discern the edibility of certain plants.
In most cases, it’s always best to have a possible identification of a plant before you attempt to eat it. But if you’re keen to discover and can’t find any information on a particular plant then the UET may give you some power in trialling for yourself.
Disclaimer: You may want to read the rest of their articles before proceeding with their Universal Edibility Test as some things can prove incredible fatal before you even get past step 1.
My rule of thumb has always been – if it’s bright in colour, has yellow tinges, and the skin of the fruit appears waxy then steer clear. The problem with this rule is that it outlaws bananas! So, you’re probably best to stay away from the boundless myths and research for yourself what is, or isn’t, an edible plant.