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?
- Can You Eat Potato Leaves? Read Our FAQs!
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.
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 tomatoes, peppers, 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.
Before we move on, here is a photo of sweet potato leaves:
And a close-up photo of sweet potato leaves:
And this is a potato leaf:
They are distinctly different. I haven’t seen anyone selling potato leaves in a shop or at the veggie market. However, I regularly see offerings of sweet potato leaf – these are a common ingredient, particularly in Asian-style dishes.
Another vegetable I love is Kang Kong, or Water Spinach. It is closely related to the sweet potato (Ipomoea family) and it is often offered for sale at the markets. Because it is closely related to the sweet potato, it may be referred to as ‘potato leaf’ as well.
Water Spinach is safe to eat, and its leaves look like this:
Water spinach has much more elongated leaves than both sweet potato and potato. Sweet potato leaves form a heart shape. Potato leaves are identifiable by multiple leaves per stem, with a classic ‘leaf’ shape.
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.
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 sweet potato leaves raw, or you can cook them. They are used in 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.
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!
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!
Daniel Evans Jr
Thursday 15th of September 2022
My local international grocer sells "potato leaf". I ended up buying some by accident because it's literally right next to the spinach and I wasn't paying attention. I've yet to eat them, but if these are so bad, why are they for sale?
Friday 16th of September 2022
Hey there Daniel! I'm sorry to hear that! Could I double-check that it's definitely potato leaf, and not sweet potato leaf? My apologies if you've already made sure - it's just that sweet potato leaf is fine (and healthy!) to eat, and it is often sold in veggie stores. Potato leaves and sweet potato leaves look quite different from one another. If they look like this: they're sweet potato leaves :D