Index- plants in this Family
Phytolaccaceae / Pokeweed
American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
American Pokeweed is also known as Poke and Polk Sallet (Sallet is often mistaken for Salad).

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach a height of 3 Meters (10 feet ) . The stem is often purple.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 23cm in length (9inches). Each leaf is entire.
Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts and are up to 0.5cm wide (0.2 inches). They are white. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into early fall. They are in an upright raceme.
Fruit: A dark purple berry.
Habitat: Fields, fencerows and waste places.
Range: Most of eastern U. S. except extreme north.

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Poke is well know among country folk in the south as a tasty cooked green. The sallet term in one of the common names is an old term for cooked greens. Tender young shoots are gathered and boiled twice discarding the first water to rid the leaves of any possible poison. Seasoned with salt and bacon drippings it is a popular dish in the rural south. The root, older leaves and possibly the berries can be toxic. Native Americans introduced this plant to European settlers and it was so popular as a potherb that seeds soon were being cultivated back in Europe.

Medical Uses: Various parts of the plant have been used since pre-Colombian times to treat many conditions. It seems the berry juice has been used for pimples and boils, in some cases taken internally in other cases applied to the skin. It has also been taken for joint pain and applied to sore breasts. Leaf concoctions have been used as an expectorant, emetic and cathartic. Warning: All parts of the plant may contain some toxins and Foster & Duke warn that the juice can cause dermatitis and damage chromosomes.

Similar Species: Some authors recognize Phytolacca rigida as a separate species having more erect racemes.

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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