Dirty differences

SGevlekte-Scheerlingome plants or fruits are edible, but look-alike counterparts inedible, dirty or even very toxic. Therefore it is important to use only those species you recognize absolute definitely.
If you still want to reap what you did not sowed yourselves, follow a course naturalist, and follow for over a year or 2 and in all seasons, skilful experts. Never rely on older books, and never on just one book. Knowledge about being poisonous or edible sometimes evolves quite a while. Not every poison is neutralized or aborted by cooking or heating.

Of chamomile in the Netherlands and Belgium there are two species: chamomile and disk mayweed. Besides odorless chamomile, and a group Anthemis with yellow, smelly and false chamomile there is also useful Roman chamomile and chamomile. (See < Chamomile types>)

Carrots, chervil and angelica are useful, but look like hogweed, cow parsley, hemlock and deadly spotted hemlock. (See <Venomous similarities >)

Horse chestnut has not a pointed plume, is rounder and shiny, and tastes dirty. The ordinary chestnut does have a feather (See <Nut, kernel, bean…>)

The most dangerous mistakes happen with mushrooms. Use them only if you can identify them 100% sure.


Berries always look inviting and appetizing. And often with a nice color.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) in the Netherlands has about 20 species, and about 80 wild species in the northern hemisphere. In Belgium you mainly find the rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.), the whitebeam (Sorbus aria (L) Crantz) and the Wild Service Tree or Chequer tree (Sorbus torminalis (L) Crantz).

‘Sorbus’ is probably derived from the Celtic ’Sor’ that means ’spice’.’Aucuparius’ is Latin: ‘to catch birds'. The Romans already used the berries as bait (and ate the birds).

The berry is a drupe, a mini apple with 2-3 rock hard seeds. They form clusters of orange-red fruits. The leaves (5-7, to 1-1.5 cm) are oval to elongated standing in 6-8 yokes. The leaf edge is sharply cut except the bottom piece.
The wood is used for furniture, rulers and gymnastic equipment.

Often still wrongly is thought that the berries are poisonous. Unripe berries contain irritating para sorbic acid which after 100 grams rowan may result in an upset stomach. The ripe, sweet rowan no longer occurs this, and lacks the acid. It is also broken down by cooking or drying the berries, or soak them (cold, 10 hours) in water with some vinegar. (Then harmless sorbic acid is formed, which is used in the food industry since 1960 as a preservative.)
You can make fine jam or jelly with the berries.
Berries are high in vitamin C and the highest percentage starch of all our fruit: 20%. Dried and powdered they make a tasty flour.

Roasted or dried, they can be used as a coffee substitute: let infuse a tablespoon of berries with boiling water, for 10 minutes.

In Germany, the berries are put on gin.

The pear-shaped rowan (Sorbus domestica) is grown for the fruits mainly in Central Europe. They are processed into puree, compote and wild sauces and some alcoholic drinks.

Today there are less bitter cultivated varieties : SA Edulis - Konzentra or Rosina.
(SA edulis has as a Dutch name: edible ash.)

The berry of the less common yellow dogwood is - in contrast to the red - edible.


Yellow dogwood (Cornus mas)

red (Cornus sanguinea)


riverside Maas river



more lanceolate

more ovate


6 or 7 pairs, at different heights of the midrib

2 to 4 pairs, at the same height of midrib

leaf underside hairy

in the same direction

in all directions

axillary vein

white hair


underside leaf

lighter than top

as green


March-April, before the leaves

May-June, with leaf


light yellow, 4 bracts

creamy, without casing


10 - 15mm, elliptical, red, edible

5 - 8mm, round, blue-black, inedible


not abutting against twig

lean against twig


dark green


section 1 year twig


round, flattened

wood use

hammer shaft and canes

fish traps and bows

The juniper (Juniperus communis) is actually not a true berry, but the blue-black, soft and fleshy scale of fir cones (a sham berry). It contains oils used in bath oils.
The cone fruits are used as spice or seasoning in marinades, with game, sauerkraut, gin and others.

Juniperus is a corruption of the Latin ’junior’= ‘younger’and ’Parere’= ‘appear': the young fruit appears even before the mature fruits have fallen. The dark blue frosted looking berries are ripe only in the autumn of the second year.
Gin owes its name to this plant.
From juniper gum, mixed with linseed oil one made ​​ varnish for paintings.
(Yew also has a sham berry. The flesh is not, but seed and leaf are toxic.)

Fortunately, there are more non- toxic than poisonous plants. Do not be dissuaded by the following list. They are not all equally toxic but they all have berries that should not be eaten.

guelder (in large quantities),
amelanchier (flesh okay, seed not)
cherry laurel,
sweet pea,
ricinus communis (miracle bean),
elderberry (unripe berries)
am. vogelkersblack cherry (flesh okay, not seed)
barberry (unripe berries)



I have the impression that species (fruit, fruits, plants) which mature later in the year, last even longer and keep better. But I do not know if that is really a general rule of thumb.


Berries of most honeysuckle species are poisonous. Some species have edible berries. They are called honey berries.
The nectar from honeysuckle is the only edible part. The flowers are not toxic. There can be made (medicinal) syrup from the nectar. Cook 1.8 kg flowers in a liter of water and add twice as much sugar.

Black cherry (Prunus serotina) is a shrub (in Europe) to small tree whose small berries or cherries are edible when they are well ripe. The leaves and kernels are poisonous (like regular cherries).

In <Vegetables and small fruit> edible and cultivated berries are listed.