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Poke.

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: What to do w/ Pokeweed?
From: peterstj.ix.netcom.com (Peter Saint James)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 1995 20:44:22 GMT

> I'm rilly bummed, because i found out that one of my favorite plants, in the backyard is Pokeweed, a poisonous plant. :-\
> The birds love its beautiful purple berries... heh.
> I checked w/ my local zoning office, and found that it's _not_ a "destroy on sight kind of plant", but should I cut it down anyway?
> If some stupid kid comes in my yard and pigs out on my pokeweed berries, is sie gonna croak or just puke purple vomit?
> Was pokeweed ever used for _anything_? What kind of poison does it contain, and what are the symptoms, treatment for it?

You have poke in your back yard? You lucky person. Poke is a fine delicacy. You must live in the South of Mid Atlantic States. When I lived around Washington. D.C., the poke appreciator used to go around looking for good poke sites in parks and vacant lots and people's lawns.

Here's the story: Eat poke only in May (actually, you can start in April and might make it to mid June, depending on where you live). Cut off the new, tender, shoots. When they get big is when they get too poisonous. Wash them.

Put them in boiling water. Boil (actually at a low boil, almost simmer) for a few minutes (3-5) depending on how big they are. Take them out. Throw that water away. Put them in new boiling water and cook again for a few minutes until tender. Throw this water away too. Serve. They taste like a cross between asparagus and spinach.

Sooooooooo gooooood. You lucky person. Poke doesn't grow on the West Coast.


From: amintel.kaiwan009.kaiwan.com (Christopher Green)

> I'm rilly bummed, because i found out that one of my favorite plants, in the backyard is Pokeweed, a poisonous plant. :-\

Pokeweed is one of those plants that sits right on the line between edible and poisonous.

The young shoots are edible, until they start turning red; thereafter, they are poisonous. They are eaten as greens mainly in the South, under the name "poke salet".

The berries are edible when cooked and may be used in pies; one writer describes pokeberry pie as "of equivocal quality"; the juice is also a dye.

The root is poisonous but usable in small doses as a laxative. It was well known to the Native Americans. It is not one of the better choices for this use nowadays, because it is also somewhat narcotic, and an overdose could be fatal.

A great-grandmother recalled growing up in a town where pokeweed was eaten. The school in her town allowed this, but the school in the next town would send children home if they came in smelling of pokeweed.

I think the worst thing that could happen to the neighbor kids if they chowed down on the berries is that they would get a case of the runs that would ensure that they never repeated the experience.


From: bella.kinney.channel1.com (Bella Kinney)

The berries make an excellent ink frequently used in 19th century America. I'm not sure if mordant or shellac was added to increase perminance, the examples of calligraphy done with this ink that I have seen were a faded brown-violet but quite legible after 150+ years.


From: wellpark.ihug.co.nz (Phillip Cottingham)

>: I'm rilly bummed, because i found out that one of my favorite plants, in the backyard is Pokeweed, a poisonous plant. :-\

Pokeweed, if used with great care, in very small doses is a wonderful cleanser for the lymphatic system. Used in Homoeopathy it will take away nodular swellings of the lymphatic system. This is just a samll sample of its wonderful effects.
Regards
Phillip Cottingham Medical Herbalist


From: msr.news.infi.net (Martin Smith-Rodden)

: Pokeweed, if used with great care, in very small doses is a wonderful cleanser for the

That ain't all it will clean out...

When harvested just sprouting out of the ground it can cook down like spinach, and we as starving college students used to eat it all the time near the University of Maryland... Poached, with garlic and butter. Yum.

Annyways, that was until we harvested it a little too late one time, and then it became an extremely, EXTREEEEEEMELY strong laxative...

I don't recommend it...

;-)


From: Liz Jones <lizjones+.pitt.edu>

Well, I'm in the process of trying to hunt down some of the info on poison and edibility of pokeweed myself (and have yet to get more than a vague answer about what kind of poison, etc.) Pokeweed berries can be used to produce dye (we always made war paint with them as kids), and the early shoots can be cooked and eaten as spring greens-- standard fare in the hills around here-- at least for those in the know. Poke greens and scrambled eggs. As I've only recently learned about its use as food I couldn't comment on the flavor... I have heard references to pokeberry pie and to poke jelly as well, but never have gotten a clear answer on how this might be prepared. I was always warned away from this plant and suspect that if the berries are in fact edible they may need a lot of preparation first (much like acorns...). But of course they used to say that about the tomato, too! Let me know if you find out any details on the poison!



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