Thursday, September 30, 2010

Taxus berries

I love these sweet little fruits. But I do not swallow the seeds. They contain taxane and are VERY poisonous. Paclitaxel, a cancer treatment, is derived from the leaves and bark, which, if eaten, are also highly poisonous to stock. 

I eat the sweet, juicy pulp around the pit, and spit that neatly into my hand, cherry fashion. It's not that I like living on the edge, I just really like fruit...

Soon I will elaborate on this love and the pickle it can get me into. And explain why I called Steve Brill at 10-plus pm one night this summer saying, I'vejusteatenallthepulpandtheseedsofamayapple. Was that a bad idea? 

This was after I'd contacted a foraging friend at the other end of live email, in sudden panic, who had scanned all her literature and texted all her foraging pals about the toxicity of the seeds. Nobody in books would come out and say that the pips actually were poisonous. Just that that they were 'apparently' poisonous. One friend had swallowed 'some' seed long ago and lived.

Steve's answer that night: No one ever eats the seeds...

My silent response, Then why don't you SAY so in your book????

How many did you eat? he asked mildly.

All of them, I said, Everything inside the mayapple. It was delicious.
Maybe you should call doctor, he suggested. be continued


  1. A cliffhanger! At least we now you survived...

  2. There's liking fruit and then there's LIKING fruit.

    ope we don't have to lump fruit in with Doritos....

  3. We were told as children not to eat those taxus berries.

    But they looked like stuffed olives in reverse color.

    For the love of fruit, woman!


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