Thursday, August 02, 2007


I love pokeweed. I ok, that sounds somewhat funny. Pokeweed is this really interesting plant in the pokeweed family that has very dark purple berries that will be ripening soon. I remember my seventh grade teacher tricking students into squeezing the berries, and once they did this, their hands were covered in a spectalarly sticky, brilliantly magenta covering. What a plant. I also love wikipedia, and there is really quite a nice article about this plant there. What did I learn? People in the south actually eat this plant, even though it is highly toxic to mammals (but not birds, apparently). They'll boil the leaves three times, each time removing the water, and then turning the boiled leaves into poke salad. Wow...sounds interesting. Has anyone eaten poke salad? Anyways, the Latin name for this guy is Phytolacca americana.



Here you can see the inflorescence of pokeweed, which botanists call a raceme. Its not a spike, since each flower is on a little stalk called a pedicel. Pokeweed berries are not yet ripe, they are still green in Kenney Park here in Columbus. But soon I'll go out and crush some berries is my hand, turning them purple, just for a little memory of being a kid again, but now I'll surely wash my hands, knowing this plant is fairly toxic!


P.S. Green Deane has an excellent post about pokeweed at his blog. Check it out here:

Eat The Weeds Blog

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  1. I confess - I like pokeweed too, Tom! It pops up in my yard, under the eaves and along the fenceline - anywhere birds have "dropped" seeds, I guess. I let it grow. I think it's pretty, and sometimes I see the birds eating the berries.

  2. Pokeweed was voted in the "Top 10 Weirdest Canned Foods." They said it was like wilty bitter spinach. Personally it's like Fugu for plants, one false move and you're dead:)

  3. I eat it every spring until it passes out of season. You can read about it at my blog, The specific blog is Pokeweed: Prime Potherb. As for it tasting like wilted bitter spinach, I think that is way off. It is not bitter. In fact, most people who eat it think it is the best tasting potherb on earth. GreenDeane

  4. Deane,

    Very interesting! I'll visit your blog.