Common Names: American pokeweed, pokeberry, poke root, inkberry, Virginia poke, poke, pigeonberry, redweed, red ink plant, poke sallet, polk salad
Sub-category: Pokeweed family
The plant has a large white taproot, green or red stems, and large, simple leaves. White flowers are followed by purple to almost black berries.
Broadly distributed in fields and waste places.
Edible Notes: Although the seeds are highly toxic, the berries are often cooked into a jelly or pie, and seeds are strained out or pass through unless bitten. Cooking is believed to inactivate toxins in the berries by some and others attribute toxicity to the seeds within the berries. The leaves of young plants are sometimes collected as a spring green potherb and eaten after repeated blanchings. Shoots are also blanched with several changes of water and eaten as a substitute for asparagus. They become cathartic as they advance to maturity. The cooked greens are sold commercially in the South, but any food use of the plant is controversial because of toxins in the plant. Not recommended.
Warnings: Parts of this plant are highly toxic to livestock and humans, and it is considered a major pest by farmers. Seeds are toxic.