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My kids are fruititarians. There also happens to be a lot of produce-bearing trees and plants around our neighborhood, and when we confirm it is okay with the owners, my children like to help themselves (Loquat season just ended here).

We were on a walk this weekend and saw what looks like a number of "wild" (in the sense that they aren't in a yard and don't look cultivated) blackberry bushes. We walk in this area semi-regularly and so I'd love to let the kids chow down, bit I know there are many varieties of berries that look alike, and not all are safe. Again, from their location (a recently built walking path through what was previously a small section of woods right next to a development) it is unlikely these were planted by someone for food.

Can anyone identify these bushes with certainty and let me know if they are safe to eat? If it helps, I'm in USDA zone 8B/9A (aka north central Florida).

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This is certainly sawtooth blackberries. Safe for consumption, but I would prefer to wash them first, especially since it is close to human/pet activity. Info on Florida blackberries: https://sharonsflorida.com/plants-page/native-shrubs/blackberries-native-to-central-florida/

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These are blackberries alright, blackberries do not really have poisonous look-a-likes, so you can be pretty sure they are blackberries. However, there are some other risks to take into account before eating them. First of all, you don't know on what kind of soil they are growing, maybe there is a history of pollution (e.g., former industrial place, metal smelter, etc.). So you don't know what chemical could have been in the soil. The second thing to consider is parasites from animal feces. I know that here in Europe it was advised not to eat wild blackberries because of foxes. They were thought to spread parasite eggs through feces or urine, which could be on the wild berries. If it was a real risk or just a story, I don't know.

  • It's only ever been a residential area, so I'm not expecting anything crazy in the soil from an industrial perspective. Wildlife certainly abound though, as do pets, which (obviously) aren't always properly taken care of or cleaned up after. – conman May 6 at 15:04
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    I think the parasites from wildlife can be worms of some sort. Maybe wash the berries before consumption? – benn May 6 at 15:10
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    Odd variety, vaguely Mulberry looking: duckduckgo.com/… Those grow on trees, and make tasty pies. – Wayfaring Stranger May 6 at 16:02
  • And Virginia creeper and other stuff; Look out for poison ivy, here in TX wild black berries are very common but often with poison ivy. – blacksmith37 May 6 at 16:16
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    Mostly all I've ever eaten are wild blackberries. I've tried store-bought ones, but they're expensive and bland. – Don Branson May 6 at 16:35

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