When I was younger I used to love picking blackberries with my parents. It’s not like we did it all the time, but once in a while, bucket in hand, we’d traipse off to Alexander Palace or any other accessible bramble Mecca and pick away until our fingers were stained rosy with juice. BUT, as well as being a reason for an outing on a Sunday to seek out this wild crop that mum would turn into jam, it was also instilled in me from an early age, not to eat any berries unless mum and dad were there. This warning was issued because no matter how inviting berries might look, some present a real danger as they are poisonous. It was a bit like the ‘don’t pick mushrooms’ speech we got as well.
If the kids play out in the garden it’s important to instil in them these same sensible warnings – for goodness sake, don’t eat the berries.
As summer turns to autumn and autumn turns to winter, leaves may redden and fall, but the berries will keep on growing – plump, colourful, succulent-looking berries, tempting for little fingers to pick. So here are a few berries your little ones should be taught to steer clear of, and why.
- Yew Berries
Large, bright red – so red that they look almost like sweets – with a signature hollow at one end (containing a brown-black seed) and juicy, these berries stand out against the contrasting green of the long thin leaves they cluster within. Showing up in September, when it’s often still warm enough for the kids to be playing in the garden with their friends, it’s no surprise that these are the UK’s single most common berry poisoner. The berry contains toxins that in very small numbers can cause an adverse reaction and the seed inside the berry is very poisonous.
- Privet Hedge Berries
The dark purple fruits of this hedge look for all the world just like blackcurrants to the little people in your household. They are, in fact, very similar looking, being individual spherical berries, often found among other bramble plants producing edible berries like blackberries. Appearing at the end of winter and through into the spring these berries will give your children a nasty tummy ache.
- Ivy Berries
This common climbing plant, found in gardens and in woodland, produces berries that are black and clustered from November through to January. So, when you’re out building snowmen or having snowball fights make sure that these tantalising treats are well out of arms reach, because they pack a toxic punch.
- Mistletoe Berries
White and slightly translucent, these berries can cause blurred vision, stomach ache and convulsions if consumed in a large enough quantity. In fact, the whole plant is toxic, even more so than the berries, but it’s less likely that a child would munch away on the green stems of this plant.
- Belladonna Berries
With the alternative name of ‘deadly nightshade’ no adult would imagine that it would be a good idea to tuck into the black, cherry-sized fruits of this plant. But in the late summer sunshine they’re shiny and sweet so children will not understand the fact that they may also be hazardous to their health.
If you would like to remove plants and bushes that produce toxic/poisonous berries from your garden, or to trim them back so temptation is kept well out of reach, call us on 0208 292 8992 and we’ll happily pop round to give you our professional opinion for your peace of mind.