Who says arrival of spring, says news picking of edible wild plants. But be careful because some poisonous plants look like edible plants and can be confused with the latter when picked in nature, the garden or the vegetable patch. Thus, ANSES and the Poison Control Centers identify an average of 250 cases per year of confusion with potentially serious or even fatal consequences. For the spring season, the agency warns in an information point that the colchicum (Colchicum autumnale) is most often confused with wild garlic (Allium ursinum), even more rarely with wild leek (Allium polyanthum).
These three plants grow in spring in the same undergrowth, particularly in the regions of the eastern facade and in Occitania. However, “the ingestion of colchicum can cause serious or even fatal poisoning, depending on the quantity of leaves ingested, the very variable concentration of colchicine present in the plant, and the association with certain common drugs (antibiotics of the type macrolides, antivitamin K, etc.) which can significantly increase the toxic risk. », Explains ANSES. The first clinical manifestations are digestive disorders (vomiting and diarrhea) which can be severe, in the hours following ingestion of the plant.
What are the differences between wild garlic and colchicum?
It is therefore better to know how to distinguish wild garlic colchicum. Wild garlic is an edible wild plant, 15 to 40 cm high when ripe, which has a characteristic garlic odor, especially when its leaves are crumpled. As ANSES explains, “its star-shaped flowers and elongated bulb are white. The leaves are more or less shiny, oval and pointed, carried by stems. This plant often grows in large carpets in cool undergrowth, shady and damp valley bottoms or along streams. The leaves appear in February-March and flowers from April to early June. The harvest period ends with the first flowers. ”
Colchicum leaves are more rigid, stemless, and the bulb is round and dark. The purple flowers appear only in autumn, only the leaves are visible in the spring, fleshy with a rounded tip and which seem to come straight out of the ground. Warning: all parts of the plant are poisonous. When picking wild garlic, ANSES therefore recommends making sure that you are familiar with the plant picked and that you check for the presence of a garlic odor. when creasing each sheet. In addition, care must be taken to “not pick the leaves in armfuls to avoid picking several species and mixing toxic species with edible species.” », She notes.
Above all else, it should to photograph your picking to facilitate identification in the event of poisoning. Finally, the presence of a bitter or unpleasant taste implies immediately stopping all consumption. “If you have the slightest doubt after ingestion or in the presence of symptoms, in particular digestive symptoms in the hours following the consumption of a dish with wild garlic or wild leek, contact a poison control center without delay. », Concludes ANSES. Note that to avoid further confusion between edible plants and toxic plants,the agency has posted a checklist online. We learn that in the spring, three other edible plants are the subject of such confusion: Acacia, Sorrel / Spinach and Wild carrot.