Hiker dies after mistaking wolfsbane for edible plant

The hikers picked deadly wolfsbane while walking in the Canigou massif area of the Pyrénées-Orientales

Authorities urge people to check foraged plants are safe to eat after latest incident in French mountains

Authorities have warned against eating wild plants after a 78-year-old hiker died, and his 75-year-old walking companion was taken to hospital after they ate the leaves of a poisonous plant they had collected while walking in the mountains of the Pyrénées-Orientales.

The pair picked some deadly wolfsbane while walking in the Canigou massif region, mistaking it for an edible plant known locally as couscouil, which is often used as an ingredient in salads and omelettes.

Wolfsbane is a member of the aconite family. If eaten, it causes including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea - and can lead to hypotension, sinus bradycardia, and ventricular arrhythmias - which can be fatal within two to six hours.

The 78-year-old died shortly after eating a meal made using the leaves of the plant, while his companion was taken to hospital in Perpignan for treatment. He is out of danger, according to France 3.

A third person, a 32-year-old fellow hiker to whom the pair had given some of the deadly plant, has been found and taken to hospital for observation, but has shown no signs of poisoning symptoms.

Last month a family in Andorra suffered severe poisoning, after eating a toxic plant found in the mountains.

Authorities advised people to have any wild plants or mushrooms picked in the countryside checked before consuming them.

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