Why are some berries OK to eat while others are poisonous?
Is it true that whichever berries birds and animals eat are also safe for humans to consume?
THere are many reasons why some berries are poison while others are not. Most of it has to do with reproduction. Since birds eat berries and fly away and poop out seeds, the eatible berries are cultivated by seed. Poison berries may also have very specific growing requirements and therefor drop to the ground near the parrent plant. If the plant is an annual then the seeds will grow into new plants next year.
It is also not a fast and steady rule that if an animal or bird eats a berry that it is not poison. Some animals have built up toxicity levels of the poison and are therefore immune to it. Treat berries like you would mushrooms... if you do not know for certain what it is... do not eat it.
The Taxus baccata seeds are extremely poisonous (they have been used since ancient times and they are quite frequently applied as a poison in Agatha Christie' s novels), but Hawfinches and Great Tits usually eat them. I think, it's a good deal between the trees and the birds. The birds eat the berries and the trees get some help to be able spread their seeds. The aril is not poisonous and very sweet anyway. Why are the seeds poisonous? This is a protection against animals (and humans). This way they cannot eat them and the propagation of the plants are ensured.
Whether something is poisonous is relative to the species eating the berries. A lot of birds and small mammals can eat nuts and berries that would give a human a terrible stomach ache.
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