Foraging in Prospect Park can be nutritious, delicious, and a little bit illegal — but tickets from park rangers aren’t the only thing locavores should fear. Poisonous and toxic plants abound in the park. This is by no means a comprehensive guide (please consult with a health expert!), but here’s a quick list of three things that are safe to eat in the park — and three things that aren’t.
A plant for resourceful times, dandelion has greens, flowers, and roots that are all good to eat. And you can make wine from them!
Garlic Mustard Greens
The greens are delicious — and invasive — so you can get your dinner and feel like you’re doing a good thing by harvesting them, too.
Yes, you can get burdock, also known as gobo, at the farmer’s market or the Park Slope Food Co-Op — but why deal with hassle or cost when you can pull up the root all over Prospect Park yourself?
It looks like fennel and has a similar licorice-like aroma, but hemlock is not a plant to ingest. Socrates famously drank a cup of tea made from the stuff after being condemned to death in 399 BC.
Various parts of the invasive plant can be consumed if prepared properly at the right time of the year, but for the most part the plant, its berries, and its roots are toxic.
Despite the fact that its part of the same plant family that includes potatoes, eggplants and chili peppers, poisonous nightshade is toxic and can be deadly. Don’t be fooled by the berries!