Potatoes are a staple food in many people’s diets, but have you ever wondered if the potato plant leaves are safe to eat? Well, there is a simple answer!
Potato leaves are poisonous due to the presence of solanine and chaconine, toxins that are present in all nightshade family plants (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and many more). The leaves of these plants are not edible and should not be in your kitchen.
This article aims to inform you about the risks of consuming potato leaves and the potential health hazards associated with the consumption of solanine and chaconine, toxins found in potato leaves.
We will examine the scientific evidence and dispel misconceptions about potato leaves being safe to eat.
By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the dangers associated with consuming potato leaves and the precautions you should take to avoid the risks.
In This Article
Can You Eat Potato Leaves?
You cannot eat potato leaves as they are poisonous due to the presence of solanine and chaconine. These two main glycoalkaloids can cause gastrointestinal problems, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, fever, or low blood pressure.
These toxic compounds are naturally present in the potato plant’s leaves to protect it from pests and diseases. They can also be harmful to humans and animals.
But these toxins are not only found in potato leaves!
What Part of the Potato Plant Is Poisonous?
The poisonous parts of the potato plant that contain toxic levels of solanine and chaconine are:
- Green Tubers.
The toxin levels are highest in the green parts of the plant, specifically in leaves and stems, making them the most toxic part of the potato plant. 
The tubers are the only part of the plant that is edible. They contain lower levels of glycoalkaloids and are considered safe to eat.
Most toxins in the tubers develop in or close to the skin. But, when potatoes are stored incorrectly, they turn green.
The chlorophyll that gives the green color to the potato tubers is a good indicator that the potatoes contain a higher level of solanine and chaconine. These green parts of the potato should be cut away before eating it.
Tubers should be stored in a cool, dark place with no exposure to light. This will prevent the formation of toxins.
What Makes The Potato Leaves Poisonous?
Potato leaves are poisonous due to the presence of solanine and chaconine. These toxins are glycoalkaloids produced by the potato plant as a defense mechanism against pests and pathogens. They also act as protection from being eaten by animals.
Solanine and chaconine are present in all parts of the plant. But their concentration is highest in the leaves, stem, and green parts of potato tubers. 
The level of solanine and chaconine depends on the variety of potatoes, the soil conditions, and the plant’s growth stage.
Potato leaves and stems contain higher levels of solanine. So, do not consume them!
What Happens if You Eat Potato Leaves?
If you eat potato leaves, it can cause solanine and chaconine poisoning, which can lead to symptoms such as:
- Bitterness and burning in mouth and throat,
- Gastrointestinal problems,
- Constipation or diarrhea,
- Low blood pressure.
In high doses, these toxins can cause a fast pulse rate and neurological and occasional death in humans and farm animals. 
Solanine and chaconine poisoning symptoms may vary depending on the amount of toxins consumed and the person’s sensitivity to these toxins.
Symptoms may not appear immediately. They may take several hours to develop and might last for several days.
How To Avoid Glycoalkaloids Poisoning?
To avoid glycoalkaloids poisoning, take these simple precautions when handling and before consuming potatoes:
- Remove green or damaged potato parts before cooking.
- Do not eat potato sprouts.
- Cooking does not destroy toxins.
- Do not eat if it tastes bitter after cooking. [4, 5]
What To Do With Potato Leaves?
As you can not eat the potato leaves, there are a few things you can do instead:
- Composting: Potato leaves can be used as a green material in your compost pile. They break down quickly and provide a good source of nitrogen for your soil.
- Pest control: Potato leaves can be used as a pest repellent. They contain glycoalkaloids which are toxic to many herbivore pests. 
Can You Eat Green Potatoes Or Sprouted Potatoes?
Green potatoes should never be eaten. The green color of the potato tubers indicates that the formation of glycoalkaloids has increased. It is important to remove any green parts before consuming potatoes.
While sprouted potatoes are safe to eat, the sprouts themselves need to be removed. These little things attached to the potato contain high levels of toxic compounds.
The level of toxic glycoalkaloids increases when potatoes are stored incorrectly in warm, humid, or well-lit conditions. So, keeping them in a cool, dark place is essential.
Pro Tip 1: Glycoalkaloids are stable during high temperatures. Cooking potatoes will not reduce the toxin levels. So, don’t think that you can just boil it out!
Pro Tip 2: With all the bad things mentioned about green potatoes, there is a way to use them. It will take time, but you can turn one green potato into many good ones. And no, it’s not magic! Just watch this video below.
What Are Nightshade Vegetables?
Nightshade vegetables (and fruits) are a group of plants that belong to the Solanaceae family. These plants are known for their high levels of glycoalkaloids. These naturally occurring compounds can have a toxic effect on the body if consumed in large amounts. Some common nightshade vegetables include:
Some people may be sensitive to these glycoalkaloids and may experience adverse reactions. However, nightshade fruits and vegetables contain many essential nutrients and can be a healthy part of a diet. Not the green parts though!
White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes
White potatoes and sweet potatoes are both root vegetables, but they belong to a different family of plants.
White potatoes, also known as Irish potatoes, are members of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae). They are white or yellow in color and have thin, smooth skin.
While sweet potatoes are members of the Morning-Glory family (Convolvulaceae). They have thicker skin that can be white to yellow, red, purple, or brown in color and sweet, white to yellow, orange, or orange-red flesh.
White potatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. They are also a source of carbohydrates.
Sweet potatoes are an excellent vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium source. They also provide a source of complex carbohydrates.
|White Potatoes |
|Sweet Potatoes |
|Calories||69 kcal||86 kcal|
|Water||81.6 g||86.8 g|
|Carbohydrates||15.7 g||8.8 g|
|Starch||13.5 g||12.1 g|
|Sugar||1.2 g||4.2 g|
|Fiber||2.4 g||5.3 g|
|Protein||1.7 g||2.5 g|
|Fat||0.1 g||0.5 g|
|Iron||0.5 mg||1 mg|
|Potassium||407 mg||508 mg|
|Calcium||9 mg||78 mg|
|Folate||18 µg||1 µg|
|Vitamin A||8 IU||3780 IU|
|Vitamin C||9.1 mg||14.8 mg|
White potatoes and sweet potatoes can be prepared in various ways, such as baking, frying, mashing, roasting, and boiling. Both types of potatoes have their own unique taste and texture.
Can You Eat Sweet Potato Leaves?
Sweet potato leaves, stems, and tubers are edible and are not poisonous. They can be consumed in a variety of ways.
One option is to eat them raw, although they have a distinctly bitter flavor. But, they can be prepared in a way that reduces their bitterness and toughness. Here are some tips on how to prepare them:
- Place roughly cut greens in boiling water with added salt and boil them for 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the greens and run them under cool water.
- Chop them finer and use them in any recipe.
Try using them in place of spinach, adding them to stir-fries, or adding them to salads. 
Any time you hear that potato leaves are being used as food, it is most likely that this refers to sweet potato leaves. These are the only potato leaves that are not toxic.
The Health Benefits Of Sweet Potato Leaves
Sweet potato leaves are a nutritious and healthy food that can provide many benefits. Some of the most notable benefits of sweet potato leaves include:
- Rich in Vitamins. Sweet potato leaves are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, K, and B.
- Rich in Minerals. They are a great source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
- High in Antioxidants. The leaves are rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent or delay damage to cells in the body.
- Protein, Carbs, and Fiber. They are a good source of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.
- Low in Calories. They are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids contribute to body tissue functioning, including the heart, lungs, blood vessels, immune system, and hormone production.
- Healthy Body. Consumption of leaves can help prevent chronic diseases like inflammation, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.
- Low in sodium. Consuming a diet low in sodium can help lower blood pressure. 
|Sweet Potato Leaves |
|Vitamin A||3778 IU|
|Vitamin C||14.8 mg|
|Vitamin K||302 µg|
|Vitamin B||0.19 mg|
Can You Eat Potato Leaves? (FAQs)
Can You Eat Potato Fruit?
Potato fruits are not edible. They are poisonous. These small, green, unripe berries contain the same toxic glycoalkaloids found in potato leaves, stems, and other green parts of the potato plant.
Eating these fruits can cause symptoms of solanine poisoning, such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever, or low blood pressure.
It is not safe to eat potato fruit! Discard them and only consume the potato tubers, which are the only edible part of the plant.
Can You Cook Potato Leaves And Eat Them?
Potato leaves can not be consumed as they are poisonous due to toxic glycoalkaloids. These toxins can cause symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, fever, or low blood pressure.
Cooking the leaves will not remove the glycoalkaloids, and potato leaves will remain toxic and harmful. It is best to remove the leaves and place them into the compost. 
On the other hand, if you hear that potato leaves are being used as food, it is most likely that this refers to sweet potato leaves. These are two different plants belonging to two different groups. The leaves of the sweet potato plant are edible.
What Are Potato Leaves Used For In The Kitchen?
Potato leaves are not and should not be used in the kitchen. They are poisonous due to the presence of solanine and chaconine. They are not safe to eat and should not be consumed.
If you hear that potato leaves are used in the kitchen as food, this usually refers to sweet potato leaves.
Sweet potato leaves can be used to replace spinach or other greens in stir-fries or salads.
Which Part Of The Potato Plant Is Edible?
The tubers that grow underground are the only edible part of the potato plant. These tubers (potatoes) have been cultivated for centuries for their starchy flesh in many cultures worldwide.
Other parts of the potato plant, such as the leaves, stems, and flowers, are toxic and should never be consumed.
How Can You Tell If Potatoes Are Poisonous?
There are several ways to tell if potatoes are poisonous:
Green color. A potato with a green color on its skin or inside contains high levels of toxic glycoalkaloids.
Sprouts. If a potato has small sprouts growing from it, it means that it has been stored for too long. While potato itself is still ok to eat, sprouts should be removed as they contain a lot of toxins.
Soft or Wrinkled. If a potato is soft or wrinkled, it is no longer fresh and should not be consumed.
Mold or Rot. If a potato has mold or rot, it should not be consumed as it may cause food poisoning.
Bitter Taste. A potato may be toxic and should not be consumed if it has a bitter taste.
Can You Eat Sweet Potato Plant Leaves?
Some cultures use sweet potato leaves in cooking, particularly in Africa and Asia. These leaves are considered safe to eat and are commonly used in soups, stews, and sautéed dishes.
Sweet potato leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. They can provide nutritional benefits when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
Are Potato Leaves Poisonous To Animals?
Due to glycoalkaloids such as solanine and chaconine, potato leaves are poisonous to all pets and most wild animals.
Normally domesticated pets such as dogs, cats, chickens, or most wild animals will not eat these leaves as they are bitter and unpleasant. Still, if they do, they may experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even death in severe cases.
Potato leaves are not edible as they contain solanine and chaconine. These toxic glycoalkaloids can cause gastrointestinal problems, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, fever, or low blood pressure.
Toxic glycoalkaloids are not only found in potato leaves. They are also present in green or sprouted potatoes and should be removed before eating.
Hopefully, you have learned if potato leaves are poisonous to animals and humans after reading this article.
Check out our How To Grow Potatoes – Easy Step By Step Guide to learn more. Also, check out other similar articles in our Gardening How To section.
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