How to Tell 9 Pairs of Plants Apart That Are Easily Confused for One Another

Tips & tricks
3 years ago

When going for a walk in nature, it can be really tempting to pass by a plant and not pick some of its fruit to taste. However, before you do so, be sure you haven’t mistaken edible plants with their “evil” doppelgängers and instead of mouth-watering enjoyment you end up with gastrointestinal problems.

That’s why we at Bright Side made a collection of edible plants and their toxic lookalikes, so you can always be sure that you picked the right plant. And don’t miss the bonus pair at the end of the article.

1. Wild grapes and moonseed

How you can tell them apart: Both of these plants grow fruit in bunches and they are very easily mistaken for one another. So, the best way to identify which one is edible is to take one grape-like berry and open it up. Wild grapes (pictured left) have round seeds, and the moonseed seeds (pictured right) have a crescent shape.

2. True morels and false morels

How you can tell them apart: True morels (pictured left) have hollow stems and well-attached caps with a honeycomb-like appearance. False morels (pictured right), on the other hand, have solid stems and spongy brain-like caps which are very similar to those on the true morels.

Both true and false morels grow in the same wooded areas, so be careful to not be tricked by their lookalike appearance.

3. Black nightshade and deadly nightshade

How you can tell them apart: Black nightshade berries (pictured left) grow in bunches and have white-petal flowers, while deadly nightshade berries (pictured right) grow individually. However, you should be careful while picking black nightshade berries as well, because they can be poisonous in their unripe state.

4. Sweet almond and bitter almond

How you can tell them apart: Sweet almonds (pictured left) usually come from trees with white blossoms, while bitter almonds (pictured right) tend to come from pink-blossomed trees. However, sometimes the blossom color can vary and another way to distinguish them is by the fruit. The bitter almonds are a bit wider and shorter in shape in comparison to the sweet almonds.

5. Wild garlic and death camas

How you can tell them apart: The easiest way to distinguish these 2 plants from one another is by using your smell receptors. Wild garlic plants (pictured left) have the specific smell that onions and garlic are recognizable for, while death camas plants (pictured right) won’t have that potent smell.

6. Wild blueberries and tutsan berries

How you can tell them apart: Even though these plants look very similar, you can tell them apart by the color of their berries. The ones of the wild blueberry (pictured left) are blue when fully ripe, whereas the ones of the tutsan berry (pictured right) are black.

7. Chestnuts and horse chestnuts

How you can tell them apart: The edible chestnuts (pictured left) always have a point or a tassel on the nut. The horse chestnuts, (pictured right) on the other hand, don’t have a tassel or a point on the nut, and they are smooth and rounded in shape.

8. Wild carrot and poisonous hemlock

How you can tell them apart: Analyze their stems. The ones of the wild carrot (pictured left) will be usually covered in hairs, while the ones of the poisonous hemlock (pictured right) will have a smooth, hairless stem with purple spots.

9. Currant tomato and bittersweet nightshade

How you can tell them apart: Both plants produce flowers with 5 pointed petals, but in a different color. The currant tomato (pictured left) produces yellow-colored petals, whilst the bittersweet nightshade (pictured right) produces petals in deep violet color.

Bonus: Dandelion and cat’s ear

In some parts, the cat’s ear plant is considered a noxious or nuisance weed, but in other parts it’s considered an herbal treasure. And while consuming a cat’s ear is safe for humans, it can be really toxic for horses if consumed in excess.

How you can tell them apart:

Dandelion’s (pictured left) flowering stems are unforked and hollow, their leaves are jagged, hairless, and appear smooth. On the other hand, the cat’s ear plant (pictured right) has forked and solid flowering stems that are longer than the ones on dandelions, and they have hairy lobe-shaped leaves.

Have you ever mistaken any of these plants for one another? Do you know of any other edible plants that have poisonous lookalikes?

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