Press-Republican

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April 28, 2014

A walk on the wild side

PSU prof teaches students about edible wild plants in North Country

PLATTSBURGH — Eating edible, wild plants is one of the most freeing endeavors you can do for your palate and your wallet.

“There are many wild plants,” said Dr. Michael B. Burgess, a SUNY Plattsburgh biology professor, who led an “Edible Plants Walk” in Rugar Woods.

“That’s probably the first challenge deciding where to start and where to enter into this. One of the things I like to talk to groups about are three primary components I think that help someone safely introduce themselves to the flora, which I think is really quite exciting and a really neat experience to go off and provide for yourself.”

PRIMARY COMPONENTS

Plant identification is the first component.

“Being able to correctly identify the plant can mean everything to your health,” Burgess said. “There are some plants that can do a fair amount of damage if they are not correctly identified.”

Understanding how to use the plant is the second component.

“So is it just simply food or kind of a snack or is it going to be a staple in one’s diet?” Burgess said. “Or is it going to be a medicine or perhaps even a material, which is totally viable for many plants. And of course, some plants have multiple uses within those categories. So understanding the use of the plant is very important and then when you start to understand the use of the plant and you are interested in a use that is medicinal and you want to heal yourself then that really takes into play another whole level of responsibility, that again, the stakes are higher and the level of knowledge needs to match that responsibility. It’s kind of self-explanatory. It’s not reasonable to do yourself harm through ignorance.”

Understand the implications and the dangers potentially of a particular plant from a medicinal perspective.

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