9-12. There are many plants throughout the world. Tasting or swallowing even a small portion of some can cause severe discomfort, extreme internal disorders, and even death. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt about a plant's edibility, apply the Universal Edibility Test (Figure 9-5) before eating any portion of it.
Test only one part of a potential food plant at a time.
Separate the plant into its basic components—leaves, stems, roots, buds, and flowers.
Smell the food for strong or acid odors. Remember, smell alone does not indicate a plant is edible or inedible.
Do not eat for 8 hours before starting the test.
During the 8 hours you abstain from eating, test for contact poisoning by placing a piece of the plant part you are testing on the inside of your elbow or wrist. Usually 15 minutes is enough time to allow for a reaction.
During the test period, take nothing by mouth except purified water and the plant part you are testing.
Select a small portion of a single part and prepare it the way you plan to eat it.
Before placing the prepared plant part in your mouth, touch a small portion (a pinch) to the outer surface of your lip to test for burning or itching.
If after 3 minutes there is no reaction on your lip, place the plant part on your tongue, holding it there for 15 minutes.
If there is no reaction, thoroughly chew a pinch and hold it in your mouth for 15 minutes. Do not swallow.
If no burning, itching, numbing, stinging, or other irritation occurs during the 15 minutes, swallow the food.
Wait 8 hours. If any ill effects occur during this period, induce vomiting and drink a lot of water.
If no ill effects occur, eat 0.25 cup of the same plant part prepared the same way. Wait another 8 hours. If no ill effects occur, the plant part as prepared is safe for eating.