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Can You Eat Potato Leaves [Tip: We Don’t Recommend It! Here’s Why]

The potato plant is a nightshade family member that produces edible tubers. Some people are curious about whether or not potato leaves are edible. 

So – can you eat potato leaves? Or – are they poisonous? 

Let’s find out in this guide to potato leaves and whether you can eat them.

Can You Eat Potato Leaves? Or Are They Poisonous? 

No. Don’t eat potato leaves! Potato leaves and plant parts (besides the actual potatoes) are not edible. They are poisonous because they are nightshades in the Solanaceae family, along with plants like peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. While the fruits are edible, the leaves and plant parts produce steroidal alkaloids, which can be harmful.

While the leaves of potato plants are not technically poisonous, they contain high levels of solanine, a toxin that can cause gastrointestinal distress. Solanine exists in all parts of the potato plant, but it is most concentrated in the leaves and stems. 

Solanine may not cause symptoms in small amounts. But consuming large quantities can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. For this reason, it is best to avoid eating the leaves of potato plants. 

However, if you accidentally consume them, there is no need to panic! Instead, drink plenty of fluids and monitor your symptoms. If they persist or worsen, contact a medical professional immediately.

gloved hand harvesting three white potatoes lush potato leaves
Potatoes harvested from the soil are perfectly edible. And yummy! But potato leaves aren’t good to eat. Also – make sure you don’t eat green potatoes! Green potatoes are more likely to contain dangerous levels of solanine. Once harvested, we recommend storing your potatoes in a cool, dry, and dark location. Your cellar usually works perfectly! But – monitor your potatoes and don’t let them spoil! We also read an article indicating that forgotten and rotten potatoes cause problems.

What Part of the Potato Plant Is Poisonous?

When friends ask can you eat potato leaves – I tell them no! Never eat anything but the potato! Don’t eat the potato leaves, stems, or sprouts. Here’s why.

The potato plant is a member of the nightshade family. Other nightshades include tomatoespeppers, and eggplant. While the fruit of these plants is safe to eat, the leaves and stems are poisonous. 

The toxic nature of nightshade stems is because they contain solanine. Solanine is a toxic compound that can cause gastrointestinal distress, headaches, and even paralysis. 

The highest concentration of solanine is in the potato’s green leaves and stem. So it’s critical to remove these before eating. 

However, even small amounts of green skin can contain enough solanine to cause problems. For this reason, it’s always best to stay extra-cautious. Don’t eat potatoes with green-tinged skin or flesh. Even if you cook them, the solanine will still be present. 

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Are Potato Vines Poisonous?

Regular potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) do not produce vines. However, sweet potato plants (Ipomoea batatas) are plants in the morning glory family with vines.

Many homesteaders enjoy growing ornamental sweet potato vines (Ipomoea batatas) for their attractive foliage and sweet-smelling flowers. However, some gardeners may be concerned about whether these plants are poisonous. 

While it is true that all parts of the sweet potato vine contain small amounts of toxins, these levels are typically not high enough to cause harm in most cases. (We also found an excellent study showcasing surprising nutrient contents of sweet potato leaves. They cram tons of fiber, protein, and minerals!)

The leaves and stems of the plant contain the highest levels of toxins, while the tubers (the edible part of the plant) have relatively low levels. 

Humans must consume large quantities of these plants to experience any adverse effects. Ornamental sweet potato vines are (generally) considered to be safe for most people.  

Read More – Can You Eat Bay Leaves? Our Edible Leaves Guide Part 1!

Are Potato Leaves Poisonous to Animals?

One of the most important aspects of raising livestock is ensuring they have access to a healthy diet. 

Monitoring the safe eating habits of farm animals and cattle means keeping them away from plants that might be toxic to them, such as potato leaves. Do not feed spoiled potatoes or sun-greened potatoes to livestock. While potatoes are perfectly safe for livestock to eat, their leaves contain solanine, a compound that can be harmful in large quantities.

Although animals can eat small amounts of solanine without ill effects, ingesting large quantities can be harmful. And even fatal. 

Symptoms of solanine poisoning include gastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, weakness, and paralysis. 

To keep your animals safe, ensure to fence off any areas where potatoes are growing. You should also remove any potato leaves that fall into pastureland, as these can still get consumed by livestock. 

If you suspect your animal has eaten potato leaves or any poisonous plant, it is vital to seek immediate veterinary care. With prompt treatment, animals usually make a full recovery.

blossoming potato plants in farm field white potato flowers
The potato plant and leaves look beautiful. But can you eat potato leaves? Our answer is no! The potato plant contains a toxin called solanine. It’s toxic – even in tiny amounts! Potato plants have solanine – especially new sprouts and green potatoes. Symptoms of solanine poisoning include diarrhea, headache, vomiting, and slow pulse. These symptoms are scary! We tell our homesteading friends to avoid potato leaves like the plague!

What Happens if You Eat Potato Leaves?

Potato leaves are poisonous to humans and livestock. The poison is found throughout the plant but is most concentrated in the leaves.

Symptoms of potato leaf poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can lead to muscular weakness, paralysis, and even death. If you suspect that you or someone you know has eaten potato leaves, it is vital to seek medical help immediately. 

While there is no specific antidote for potato leaf poisoning, prompt treatment can often help to reduce the severity of symptoms and improve the chances of a full recovery.

Read More – Our Full Guide to Edible Leaves! – Part 2

What to Do with Potato Leaves

Potato leaves are a common sight in gardens. But some homesteaders don’t know what to do with them. Since you can’t eat potato leaves – how can you benefit from them? Here’s how.

One option is to compost them. Potato leaves are rich in nutrients, which can help to improve the quality of your compost. However, you should avoid adding too many potato leaves to your compost pile, as they can cause the compost to become too acidic. 

Another option is to throw them away. Discarding potato leaves is perfectly fine, and many people find that it’s the easiest way to deal with potato leaves. 

Can You Eat Sweet Potato Leaves? 

Sweet potatoes, a member of the morning glory family, are not related to other potatoes! Sweet potato leaves can get eaten.

Sweet potato leaves are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. And they can be a delicious addition to your diet. While the exact nutritional composition of sweet potato leaves varies depending on the variety of sweet potatoes, they are generally a good source of vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as manganese and potassium. 

You can eat potato leaves raw, or you can cook them. They get used to many yummy and savory dishes. If you look for a way to add more nutrition to your diet (and get more bang for your harvest’s buck!), consider adding sweet potato leaves to your next meal.

farmer growing sweet potato plant checking potato leaves
Can you eat potato leaves? Not regular potato leaves! But you can eat sweet potato leaves. Not only are sweet potato leaves edible – but they’re delicious. And nutritious! We even found an excellent article sharing how to cook sweet potato leaves. It’s worth a try if you harvest these yummy morning glories in your garden. We’ve also heard sweet potato leaves get called sweet potato greens. They’re perfectly edible – even raw! But many homesteaders cook and serve them for dinner. The flavor is a tad strong if you eat them raw. If you cook them – add a dash of sour cream, salt, and butter!

Can You Eat Potato Leaves? Read Our FAQs!

Many of our gardening and homesteading colleagues love growing potatoes! Sweet potatoes – La Ratte potatoes, russet potatoes, and even yams!

We also get tons of questions about potatoes and whether or not you can eat potato leaves.

We answered some of the most common questions below. We hope they help!

Read More – 30+ Edible Plants for Bucket Gardening!

Conclusion

After asking, can you eat potato leaves, and reading this article – you might believe that we hate potatoes.

But that isn’t true! Quite the contrary!

We love potatoes! We love sowing them, growing them, and eating them!

But – remember that potato leaves aren’t safe to eat. Instead of eating the leaves? Eat the potato tubers!

They taste perfect mashed, baked, and fried. And – there’s no better way to upgrade a savory meal than home-cooked French fries!

We hope this article helps.

And – if you have questions about growing potatoes, don’t hesitate to ask.

We love brainstorming all things fruits and veggies. And especially potatoes!

Thanks again for reading.

Have a great day!

Author

  • Rebekah Pierce started a small farm with her husband in 2016 in upstate New York, near her native Adirondack Mountains. With a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in special education, she has been writing professionally since 2017, but only recently left the world of teaching to pursue writing and farming full time. She now writes full-time in the education, business, finance, and of course, homesteading and farming niches.