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PLANT PROFILE LIST
SPECIES / FAMILY: Phytolacca Americana / Phytolaccaceae
OTHER COMMON NAME(S): Pokeberry, Inkberry
COMMENT: Leaves/shoots must be boiled twice with one change of water. Young shoots should be less than 7” tall, used like spinach, tastes like asparagus. The shoots are sometimes blanched before using, or forced in cellars to provide an early crop. The tender clear inner portion of the stem can be rolled in cornmeal and fried. While I boil the leaves twice. First time one minute. Then I change the water and boil for 15 minutes.(2) If you are going to use the fruit for wine, jam, pies, etc., do so with extreme caution and go slow – remove seed and cook. "A red dye is obtained from the fruit and used as a food colouring.
CAUTION: Some people are sensitive to handling the entire plant, so they should wear gloves. Avoid if pregnant. (1) Root poisonous.
NUTRITION/MEDICINAL: “Alterative; Anodyne; Antiinflammatory; Antirheumatic; Antiviral; Cancer; Cathartic; Expectorant; Homeopathy; Hypnotic; Narcotic; Purgative. Pokeweed has a long history of medicinal use, being employed traditionally in the treatment of diseases related to a compromised immune system.” (1)
OTHER USES: “Ink; Insecticide; Soap. A red ink and a dye are obtained from the fruit. A beautiful colour, though it is not very permanent. It makes a good body paint, washing off easily when no longer required, though the slightly toxic nature of the berries should be remembered. The rootstock is rich in saponins and can be used as a soap substitute. Cut the root into small pieces and simmer it in boiling water to obtain the soap. The plant is currently (1980) being evaluated for its snail-killing properties.”(1)
SOURCE LINKS (may include nutritional and medicinal info, plus other uses):
- http://www.foragingtexas.com/2006/04/pokeweedpoke-salat.html (good photos)
- http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/weedguide/single_weed.php?id=112 (good photos)