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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - March 01, 2013

From: Littleton, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Edible Plants, Medicinal Plants
Title: Food and medicinal value of Parsley Hawthorn
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have found several sites that talk about how the parsley hawthorn is edible and how the hawthorn berry in general is really great for the heart, but I did not find any mention of this on your info about it. Is there any reason for this?

ANSWER:

Great question!  The information in the Native Plant Database has been compiled over a number of years by a large number of people.  The researchers who gathered the data for Parsley Hawthorn either did not find the same information you did, or chose not to enter it. 

While the first scenario is self-explanatory, the second one probably requires further discussion.  In general, information found on the Internet alone does not make it into the NPIN Database.  Exceptions would be information found in online government, university or scientific publications.  While private websites often contain excellent information, they also often present misleading or outright incorrect information.

The edibility and especially the medicinal value of plants are especially sensitive topics.  For example, I enjoy eating peanuts and other types of nuts.  Some people are violently allergic to them.  If I was unaware of the existence of this particular food allergy and wrote that peanuts are not only edible, but delicious, I might imperil someone by mentioning their value as a food.  The same holds true for the medicinal value of plants and plant parts. 

Further, some plants must be prepared in a very specific way to be edible or to yield the desired medicinal results.  If not prepared properly, a plant that may have a very positive benefit might actually poison someone who reads of it in the NPIN Native Plant Database and eats it.  We would be horrified to know that something we posted in our data was responsible for someone's poisoning or other malady.  That is why, in general, we avoid making any claims especially about the potential medicinal value of any plant.

 

From the Image Gallery


Parsley hawthorn
Crataegus marshallii

Parsley hawthorn
Crataegus marshallii

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