Instagram is full of pretty acai bowls decorated with pretty flowers. You know those picture-perfect smoothie bowls layered with chia seeds, nuts and adorned with flowers. But ever thought if these flowers are even edible? Recently, food writer and botanist James Wong took to Twitter to call out clean-eating bloggers on this dangerous trend.
Another day, another ‘clean eating’ instagramer posting images of toxic flowers on food.— James Wong (@Botanygeek) January 28, 2018
It may not contain dairy or gluten *gasp* but it does contain the toxic plant alkaloid, lycorine.
Symptoms: Itching, swelling, (and in quantity) nausea, vomiting & convulsions. pic.twitter.com/CH4zLMnS1i
While these flowers look pleasing to the eye, Wong tweeted, “Remember, as a general rule: If you are not 100% sure something is edible, just don’t eat it.”
He added, “If it’s a staple eaten for centuries, which you don’t have a diagnosed medical intolerance or allergy to, it’s probably safe.”
Use of edible flowers for plating has been a popular restaurant trend. However, these flowers are safe to consume as they are grown for the purpose. For instance, flowers such as lavender, rose, violas and chrysanthemums are safe to consume.
Wondering which ones to stay away from? Avoid oleander, daffodils, lantanas and foxglove, among others. These are mildly poisonous and can cause symptoms such as vomiting, dehydration, slow heartbeat, liver failure and in some extreme cases, even death. Of these, oleanders can be widely found in India.
This is not the first time a wellness blogger mistakenly ingested poisonous plant. Last year, a vlogger live streamed herself eating aloe vera, after it became a huge trend in China. However, what she thought was aloe vera was in fact agave americana, a plant that looks similar to aloe. This plant is toxic. In fact, the Mexican Tarahumara Indians used it to tip their hunting arrows and also added the juice to water to kill fish.
Agave has a toxic sap, which causes pain and burning when it comes in contact with skin. When ingested, it can have serious impact on the kidney and lead to lever damage.