Edible Mountain - Four Plants In Appalachia You May Not Want To Touch
Everyone knows not to touch poison ivy, but there are several other plants in Appalachia that one should also avoid around these parts. Warning: Some of these plants can be deadly. Here are four plants that you may or may not want to touch in Appalachia.
1. Cow Parsnip - There is an old folklore that only a silver nail in its root can kill Cow Parsnip. The chemical in its sap is called Furanocoumarins and is phototoxic, causing nasty blisters if it gets on your skin and then is exposed to sunlight. Despite this, the shoots, flowers, leaves and seeds are edible and have a strong flavor. Wearing glove is highly recommended if you need to handle Cow Parsnip.
2. Stinging Nettle - This common Appalachia plant has long, thin hairs that contain formic acid. It will sting if you brush up against it. Some people use the sting to help with arthritis. Stinging Nettle is edible when cooked or dried, which removes the stinging acid. It's rich in vitamins.
3. Wild Parsnip - Like Cow Parsnip, Wild Parsnip contains Furanocoumarins, and can cause nasty burns that last up to 30 days. If you get the sap in your eyes, it may cause blindness. The root is edible, but the rest of the plant is poisonous. If you do come in contact with Wild Parsnip, cover that part of your skin from the sun until you can wash it.
4. Poison Hemlock - As the name suggests, you really don't want to touch Poison Hemlock. Ingesting even a small amount of the leaves can kill you. It can also cause a skin rash if you even touch it. The toxic alkaloids in it are deadly to livestock as well. Poison Hemlock is all over Appalachia and looks a lot like Queen Anne's Lace.
Edible Mountain is a bite-sized, digital series from WVPB that showcases some of Appalachia’s overlooked and underappreciated products of the forest while highlighting their mostly forgotten uses.