Toxic Properties of an Immature Red Bell Pepper #333029 - Ask Extension

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Toxic Properties of an Immature Red Bell Pepper #333029

Asked June 16, 2016, 2:25 PM EDT

My sister took alittle bite of a Red Bell Pepper. ACE Organic leaf,,I wrote the name of the plant from the description stick next to it, which I was assuming the more you knew about what she ingested, you would have a better understanding of what she went through...Anyhow, within a few minutes she told me that she felt like she was in a sense hallucinating..Not in the sense like she took a tab of LSD, not that she would know what that was like, but everything around her momentarily was not making sense..You eat a tomato, you feel fine, you eat a cucumber you feel fine, you eat a small piece of a leaf of a red pepper and you feel nauseous, with a severe headache..She threw up twice because of the nausea, and finally started to feel better a few hours later..When I wrote this this morning asking what may have caused this reaction, I thought possibly that this was a textbook reaction regarding eating immature plants, or that some vegtables at an early stage of growing produces a ........., that makes it ........
 I think you get the point..She feels better now, and knows not to eat a small piece of leaf..
I still though would like an answer out of curiosity, if you happen to find what may have caused this..Thanks for your help....PG

Dutchess County New York

Expert Response

I consulted colleagues who are Horticulture Specialists with University of Missouri Extension. This is their response.

Peppers are solanaceous plants.  Solanaceae is also known as the nightshade family.  This plant family has high concentrations of alkaloids, and are generally to be avoided, except when you know a part of the plant is safe, like a pepper or tomato fruit.  Potato tubers are ok, for example, but the true fruit of the potato (a small, green, tomato-like fruit) is considered "toxic".  As far as I know, no leaves on any solanaceous plant would be considered edible, because of the alkaloids.

This reference from the MO Botanical Garden (see page 2) states the green parts/leaves of this family of plants, as well as sun-scalded potatoes, should not be eaten-

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/Portals/0/Gardening/Gardening%20Help/Factsheets/Vegetable%20Families69.pdf

She should probably consult a doctor, if she has not already. She may also use the poison control center (1-800-222-1222) as a reference.

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Janet Hackert Replied June 23, 2016, 1:57 PM EDT

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