Plants in Your Backyard: Berries
Berries are attractive to children. They see us pick berries and eat them. Many of us enjoy the bounty Alaska’s plants have to offer. However, children assume if one berry is edible, the rest are too! Berries also look like candy to children. Teach children to leave all berries alone. Adults should be the ones to decide what is edible.
Here are a few of the common berries in Alaska that are poisonous. Read the information under each picture about the plants pictured.
Baneberry (Actaea rubra) – deadly poisonous! Coastal Alaska, southeastern / North beyond the Alaska Range to the Yukon River and east through northern North America . Note how the berry starts out white and turns red as it matures. Because baneberries look so attractive, these poisonous berries can be enticing to children in either form.
Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) – poisonous Coastal from Alaska Peninsula south
Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata) – poisonous! Southeastern Alaska
There are many other berries that are not edible, but not considered toxic in small quantities. Make yourself familiar with the berries and plants in your local area and teach your children to use caution, too.
There are many different forms of mushrooms in Alaska. Many are edible, many can make you sick, and only a few are truly poisonous in a way that can make you seriously ill or cause death. However, it takes a true expert to be able to tell mushrooms apart because many look so similar. So for children, it is best to teach children never to eat a mushroom out of the wild, unless it is picked and prepared by someone who is an expert about mushrooms. Children should never pick and prepare mushrooms on their own.