Pokeweed

This is the big glossy weed that gets dark purple berries on magenta stems later in the season. Their juice was used by natives to make dye to paint their horses! The Constitution was written in dye MADE FROM POKEBERRIES!

Okay now, you know that song about Poke Salad Annie? That refers to this plant.

Poke salad was (is?) a southern dish, but the leaves must be cooked and rinsed at least twice, because the whole plant is toxic unless properly processed. The berries are poisonous to mammals, but birds can eat them. 4 – 10 feet tall. Native.

Pokeweed, Poke (Phytolacca americana)

1 thought on “Pokeweed

  1. So this is what folks did when they couldn’t go to the store or watch tv. They gathered plants and said to themselves things like, “How many times will I have to boil these leaves before they won’t make anybody sick?” And “hmmm, if I boil this down enough, should we drink it or paint designs on our horses with it?” or “This smells good. Maybe I should let the dog try it first.” I can’t even imagine how wondrous and fraught with peril the world was. I read your blog and gain more and more respect for those who came before us. What a hardy lot we were/are!

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