View Full Version : Look what I found today!

05-18-2010, 07:07 PM
Down a long dirt road through the middle of management area in the next county North of here, passing through, I was looking out the window at the flowers alongside the road. Cruising at a reasonably slow speed of about 10mph, I noticed a sprig of flowers that didn't look like the daisy fleabane thats so prominent right now. No.. even out of the corner of my eye, in a passing glance, I recognized the plant right away.
This is the first time I've ever knowingly encountered this plant in the wild. It is truly a spectacular day for me in my wild edibles quest.
There are actually two plants I want to share with you guys today and the second one is for the same reason. Here's the first. Do you know what it is?

And the second plant was one of the main ones I've been looking for all this time. This is one of the most important plants you can ever learn, if you are into eating wild plants. Anyone else recognize it? The flower gives it away.

It's a good day in the world of your comforting company.

05-18-2010, 07:21 PM
Looks like we got ourselves some wild carrot up top.

05-18-2010, 07:23 PM
Is that second one a wild squash or gourd? :innocent:

05-18-2010, 07:34 PM
Wild Carrot on top.

Night shade on bottom?

05-18-2010, 08:25 PM
daucus carota

solanum nigrum

05-18-2010, 10:29 PM
everyone seems in agreement the first one is wild carrot, Daucus carota. I was thrilled to find one and know what it was. I had the image and description commited to memory and I knew it as quick as I saw it.

The bottom one is definately a nightshade. I think it's S. ptycanthum, "folded flower" nightshade. Both are called Black Nightshade and there is no outstanding difference in observations of the two, other than the prickles along the stem, which are very small on this plant. Either way, it's a Solanum and is poisonous! S. capsicoides is used in some countries as rodent poison! Did you know tomatos are in the same family?

The nightshade is growing in my yard and I transplanted the carrot. If the carrot lives, I'll be able to observe these two through their entire life cycle. I'd love to have the carrot go to seed and start growing in the yard. I'd love to eat some next year.

Good eyes gang. Did you know the plants or guess, or look them up?

05-19-2010, 02:28 PM
So, why do you want the nightshade? What makes it so important?

05-19-2010, 04:08 PM
I knew the wild carrot. I wasn't sure about the night shade because color of the flowers petals threw me a bit, I had to look it up to confirm. The night shad flowers by me are purple and yellow.

RWC, I would consider keeping a plant around to observe it through its life cycle. Its one thing to recognize a poisonous plant in bloom with a flower as an identification helper and a completely different thing in for other stages of growth. I do the same thing in my yard.

05-20-2010, 01:06 AM
I know it seems like backwards logic... It's important because it is deadly.
In my mind, it is more important to intimately KNOW which plants can kill you, while all the ones that won't cause you any harm can be left to a little "guessing" (never guess at the identity of a plant!). Studying it through all it's growth stages will help me learn to identify it without flowers, like Gryff said. I'm trying to think of a good example, but it's kinda late and my thinker ain't thinkin. Immature carrot and hemlock look similar. Knowing how to tell hemlock from the others in that family will assure that I don't accidentally misidentify it for any other plant I haven't encountered, like parsley. I might see something that looks like carrot or parsley and I'm not sure what it is, but I AM sure it's NOT poison hemlock, and while still very dangerous to sample any unidentified plant, It would give some degree of peace of mind knowing that whatever the mystery plant is, it's definately not hemlock.
think about mustard family plants.. If you know how to properly identify a brassicaceae member, you know it's edible, whether you know the genus and species, or not. Some of the other plant families are not so forgiving with "wild guesses".
Same applies to the nightshade. There are several weeds right here in my yard with similar leaf shapes, and rounded or ridged stems. Knowing the nightshades and horse-nettles will make identifying other plants safer since I will know it's not nightshade. There are edible plants in the nightshade family, just like there are in the hemlock family. Knowing the poisonous members really well is sort of a buffer for not knowing all the safe ones. There are a lot more safe ones than deadly ones. It's sort of a head start on the process of elimination. I'll try to get a picture of some more carrot between home and work tomorrow, in it's immature stage. Maybe it'll show better what I'm talking about with it's resemblance to hemlock and chervil.

Gryff, while these are white, solanum is highly variable, not only in leaf shape, but also in the flower color. Some are pure white, fading to grayish, bluish, lavender. This particular plant is growing in short grass in partial shade and moist fertile soil. If they are in direct sun, the leaves tend to be more wavy along the edge, the stem gets darker, and the flowers turn grayish and purplish. Soil quality also has some effect on the plant's shapes too. I hope to encounter more of these in other micro-ecosystems (fancy way to say 'yards') so that I can see the variations that occur for myself. It's funny how little things like that can make you second guess yourself on identity, ain't it?!

05-20-2010, 08:59 AM
YCC thats a great example of why its important to recognize the parts of the plant. My clue to night shade was the yellow part of the flower and the seed cluster. The variation you have seen in the leaf dependent on the location of the plant could be confusing if you didn't know other characteristics. I'll have to watch for that.

05-21-2010, 12:53 PM
I knew both... sorta.

Isn't it technically wild parsnip?

Also... , for #2, there are a lot of plants in that family that can look like that. litchi tomato, etc.

05-22-2010, 08:44 AM
Souns like good reasoning to me, I thought you might be saving it for medicinal purposes or something.

05-22-2010, 01:45 PM
The book I'm using, which is supposed to be quite specific to my area, as it is published by the University of Georgia, describes it to a T. It says that the outer flower cluster can be pinkish, but I think this particular one was past the pink stage and into the white stage.
I would have to say it is not wild parsnip (http://www.forestryimages.org/browse/subimages.cfm?SUB=6147) based on leaf shape (pinnate and dissected), cluster shape, the telltale purple flower in the center of each head, and the birdnest formed as the flowers turn to seed. According to every detail I can find listed in my books and online, it is wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace (http://www.missouriplants.com/Whitealt/Daucus_carota_page.html)

05-24-2010, 04:53 PM
Nothing else has the central purple flower does it?

05-24-2010, 09:31 PM
not that I know of. The central flower cluster is much larger than any of the hemlock clusters and are on much longer flowerstalks.
Now that I've looked over the carrot for several days, I would say that only the leaf shape is similar, the branches, sheaths, ribs, etc.. many parts are all unique to the carrot. It's important to note as many parts of each plant you document as possible. Compare the leaf branchings of the two above links and you'll see how it's all in the details.
The wife and I took a nature day yesterday, since the kids were at grandma's and we found a whole field of carrots in the "nest" stage. I picked a few heads for seeds. Maybe I can get a few growing right here in the yard. I'm gonna till up a spot just for weeds and wildflowers (same thing, right?)

Might be a good time to apologize for my lack of postings lately. I've been spending a LOT of my spare time studying and identifying plants. In fact I have one I need a little help with, if I ever get around to loading the pics LOL.

05-25-2010, 07:24 AM

06-13-2010, 03:28 PM


Wanted to post up the "birdnest" that forms after the flowers have gone to seed. Hemlock does not even almost look like the same plant at this stage. Of course, it's too late to harvest them now, but with a field full of these growing, I'm sure I'll know where to look next year.

06-13-2010, 03:42 PM
Same thread different day. Check this out!!


For all my research, the top two pictures are of Kinnikinnick. Wild blueberries. I picked a solo cup full of these and ate probably 2/3 of it while out on the trail. I found so much foodstuffs out there yesterday that I almost wanted to move out there now. I'll have a few more posts from yesterdays "exploring". This area is adjacent to my BOL, and the trail coming in from the backside of the place actually leads very close to my BOL which would allow me to stay off roads and out of sight.
Seems like every time I visit this place I find more foodstuffs. I'm ecstatic!!

06-13-2010, 03:51 PM
One more thing I found yesterday that I wanted to share, because when you see it like this, you wonder how anyone can confuse it with any other plant. This is why it's important to observe plants through their entire growth stages, so that you can notice the similarities and subtle differences in the plants you are comparing. While the young sprouts might look similar, the cotyledons are very different and so are the mature plants. Let's see who can guess what this one is, and tell it's "look similar" that everyone supposedly confuses with it.


08-07-2010, 12:03 PM
Some of the ripe fruits of Solanum ptycanthum. Some still green too, so you can see the swirly imprint on the fruits.


Remember if you find this plant it is POISON!! Don't eat the berries!! and wash your hands after handling the plant!

Erratus Animus
08-07-2010, 12:28 PM
This is an area where I am lacking, being able to identify wild edibles. i know my berries and fruits but outside of making aspirin from willow bark I am at a loss. I am colorblind and the whole color issues mess me up when identifying flowers and such.

Kudos on the lesson YCC