• F.H. King

Daffodils give you diarrhea (an account of my close encounter)

Today, I was honored to be in the presence of an expert photographer, none other than the great Mr. Gurican (his photography account is @jacobgsphotos on Insta). With his creative lens and expertise, we were able to truly draw out the beauty from a few ordinary plants.

Determined to perform my best, I started with presenting the “usual suspects” - ramps, garlic, parsnip, etc. Easy. We munched down a few on the spot to get our daily dose of microbes, there is a common saying to “never taste your own supply,” but when it comes to foraging, that rule doesn’t apply. There is nothing better than eating a fresh, wild-harvested plant, especially with that little bit of rich soil getting in your system (dirt is actually my third favorite food). And of course, Jacob took some epic shots of us in action


Now was the tough part: identifying new plants. It was almost two weeks since our previous forage, and already the ground had exploded with a new stage of life. New colors and patterns overwhelmed our senses as we marveled at the variety of new plants beginning to sprout.

One of the easiest to identify was the Virginia waterleaf, Hydrophyllum virginianum. Covering almost every inch of the forest floor in the spring, this shy and miniscule plant can be easily overlooked by the usual passerby. As a baby, this herb is most easily distinguished by its grey-white watermarked leaves which diminish as it ages. I had just read about it earlier that morning, so I had to try it. Like with most wild edibles, the flavor took at least ten seconds to settle in. Not bad, I thought. But also not good, either, I added. Sam Thayer was right. Not anything special about it, but enough to satisfy a tummy growl while on the move.

Later on, I came across a familiar looking plant. Keep in mind, I read over my three Samuel Thayer foraging books enough to recognize a plant briefly, but not enough to recall its name or specific characteristics. I flipped back over my books, and luckily enough I found its match. Trout lily, or Erythronium americanum. These are a well-known spring ephemeral (short-lived) that are generally recognized by their curvy white and yellow flowers. I personally identified them by their dull green leaves with gray-purple splotches. Seeing that all of its parts were edible, I tried each part one by one. The leaf had a nice sweetness to it with somewhat of a bitter aftertaste. The flower was slightly more bitter. The bulb, on the other hand, gave me a pleasant surprise when the familiar taste of sweet corn filled my palate. I ate several more, giving a couple to my somewhat skeptical photographer as well. He approved.

Our final find was a lone yellow flower with a delightful smell. We weren’t sure what it was, but I really wanted it to be edible.

While examining it back at home later that day, my mom walked by and casually commented, “pretty Daffodil Christopher!” So apparently this was a Daffodil, which both my mom and sister immediately recognized. And no, Daffodils are definitely not edible. In fact when swallowed, they can severely irritate the mouth and stomach and often result in uncontrollable diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain… But hey at least they’re pretty!

And that’s all for today, folks! Peace.


Plants Found:

  1. Trout lily - Erythronium americanum

  2. Virginia waterleaf - Hydrophyllum virginianum

  3. Daffodil - Narcissus pseudonarcissus

  4. Wild garlic/onion - Allium canadense

  5. Wild leek/ramp - Allium tricoccum

  6. Wild parsnip - Pastinaca sativa