Pokeweed
(Phytolacca americana)

Weed Puller
Pokeweed Shoot illustration
Pokeweed Shoot
This reddish-stained non-woody plant grows from 4-8 feet tall and branches, like a tree, then dies to the ground, all in one season. Its oval, stalked, alternate, smooth-edged emerald green leaves get 8-10 inches long.
Pokeweed Shoot
Pokeweed Shoot
Small, five-petaled, short-stalked, radially-symmetrical flowers with green centers bloom in the summer and fall.
Pokeweed Flowers, illustration
Pokeweed Flowers
They dangle from long racemes (common stalks).
Pokeweed Flowers
Pokeweed Flowers on Raceme

Notice how the flower centers (ovaries), already resemble the berries they will become.

Theyíre replaced by purple-black berries 1/3 inch across in the fall.
Pokeweed Berries, illustration
Pokeweed Berries
Each berry is marked with an indentation, as though someone had poked it.
Poke Berries photo
Pokeweed Berries
Inside the berries are numerous small, flat, highly-toxic seeds.
Poke Seeds
Poke Seeds

Note the purple dye from the opened berries. It can catch sunlight and make solar collectors much more efficient!

Underground is a huge, fleshy, toxic, perennial taproot.
Pokeweed Taproot
Pokeweed Taproot and Very Young Shoot

This is one of the best-tasting vegetables on the planet. Gourmet stores in Europe (where it's grown as a crop) and supermarkets in the south (where it's been popular since the days of the pioneers) sell it canned.

Make sure you collect only the young stems and leaves in the spring, never the roots, flowers, berries, or summer or fall plants, which are poisonous. Avoid plants more than 8 inches tall. Prepare as directed below, or you may get very sick. Beginners should use this dangerous gourmet vegetable only under expert supervision.

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