Any dangerous orange berries in Ontario?
July 8, 2011 5:04 PM   Subscribe

ParanoidFilter: I chewed up a small orange berry in Ontario, Canada. It was very bitter and I still taste it about an hour later. Is there any chance it was dangerously poisonous?

I put a photo of the plant on my Flickr page:

I know, I know. It is stupid to eat plants you cannot definitively identify in advance.
posted by sindark to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks like it might be Tartarian Honeysuckle. Google tells me that honeysuckle berries are generally mildly poisonous and you might be in some abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, but probably not, unless you're a small child.
posted by ghharr at 5:11 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

*in for some
posted by ghharr at 5:11 PM on July 8, 2011

Seconding Honeysuckle.
posted by sanka at 5:13 PM on July 8, 2011

It looks like Bittersweet.
posted by peagood at 5:19 PM on July 8, 2011

I meant to link it also looks like... Bittersweet!
posted by peagood at 5:21 PM on July 8, 2011

The nurse at poison control said that she doesn't know if there are any poisonous orange berries in Ontario. She did say that unless I get violently ill, I am probably fine.
posted by sindark at 5:36 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, while bittersweet is listed as a poison, I think adults would have to eat a fair bit to get very sick, let alone be in real trouble. Hope you recover well!
posted by ldthomps at 5:44 PM on July 8, 2011

My vote is for Swamp Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera oblongifolia).
posted by jenny76 at 5:47 PM on July 8, 2011

Another photo of Swamp Fly...
posted by jenny76 at 5:49 PM on July 8, 2011

Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) looks the most like the photo I have, and what I remember of the bush.

According to a Government of Canada information sheet: "Ingesting the berries has caused mild toxicity in children (Frohne and Pfander 1983)."


I barely consumed any. I tasted the smallest possible amount, avoided swallowing anything, and washed out my mouth promptly. It seems unlikely that I will suffer ill effects.
posted by sindark at 6:19 PM on July 8, 2011

Regarding a related species (Lonicera xylosteum): "Experimental feeding of berries (dry weight at 25 g/kg of body weight) to rabbits caused diarrhea and lack of movement within 24 h Frohne and Pfander 1983)."


"Mice experimentally injected with berry extract (dry weight at 20-40 g/kg of body weight) experienced brief excitation, followed by drowsiness, abdominal spasms, and equilibrium and respiratory problems. Death sometimes followed in 10 min to several hours. A connection was made between saponin content and toxicity (Frohne and Pfander 1983)."

20-40 grams per kg of body weight is a lot! I would have to inject myself with between about 1500g and 3900g of berry extract to get the same dosage.
posted by sindark at 6:23 PM on July 8, 2011

I barely consumed any. I tasted the smallest possible amount, avoided swallowing anything, and washed out my mouth promptly

Canadian man here who was once a forest-traipsing, berry-eating young lad for whom the line quoted above describes the average summer weekday spent tasting all the things: you'll be fine. It's a bitter, chalky, astringent taste—which is precisely what the birds like, mind—and it'll stay in your mouth forever, but it'll do you no harm.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:37 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

« Older Help me name a new blog.   |   It's all in the wardrobe! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.