Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed

Pokeweed photo

Growing to 12 ft in clearings of damp woodlands from Maine to Florida and west to Mexico, this perennial with purple stalks and large lance-shaped green leaves bears fruits in clusters of small black-purple berries. Poisonous and staining red when handled.
Grow specs:
Thin to 4 ft.

Young poke shoots are cooked and eaten like asparagus. Dried root is traditionally used as an antiviral and anti-inflammatory for auto-immune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis. All parts are violently toxic; always cook young leaves and shoots before eating. Do not use during pregnancy. Sap causes contact dermatitis and chromosomal damage; berries are hazardously enticing to children. Use only under supervision of trained practictioner.   (Photo © Steven Foster)

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