Botanical Name: Phytolacca americana
- English: Poke Root
- Also, known as: Pigeon Berry, American Pokeweed, Gewöhnlicheker Mesbeere, Pokeweed, Herbe De La Laque, Poke Sallet, Poke Berry, Poke, Inkberry, Cancer Root, American Nightshade, Pigeon Berry, Fitolacca, Great Pokeweed, Pokeberry, Red Ink Plant,
Parts Used: Root
Phytolacca americana, commonly known as pokeweed, common poke or scoke, is a vigorous, herbaceous perennial plant in the pokeweed family. This is regarded as one of the most important of indigenous American plants, and one of the most striking in appearance. It is growing up to 8-10 feet tall with a spread to 3-5 feet wide. It has large, alternate, lanceolate and simple green leaves on red or purplish stems and a large white taproot. Leaves are 5-10” long spreading to 2-4” wide. The flowers are green to white, each flower composed of five showy petal-like greenish-white sepals, 10 stamens and a pistil composed of united carpels followed by deep purple to almost black berries covering the stem in clusters and resembling blackberries. Fruits are a food source for songbirds as well as other birds and some small animals. It has very large taproots which will grow to 12” long and 4” thick.
The young shoots are used as poke salad and the leaves as a folk medicine or tea. In both cases, the plant material should be boiled at least twice to get rid of the toxin, according to literature reports. Failure to do so has caused poisoning in humans. Ingesting a few berries does not cause problems, but larger quantities, if uncooked, can be toxic to humans. Cattle, horses, sheep, and particularly swine, have been poisoned by ingesting pokeweed plant material.
How to use:
The young shoots are used as poke salad and the leaves as a folk medicine or tea. In both cases, the plant material should be boiled at least twice to get rid of the toxin, according to literature reports. Failure to do so has caused poisoning in humans.
Decoctions are suitable for roots, barks, large seeds & berries, and other dense material. The simple way to make decoction is, in a saucepan, add 1 tablespoon of dried herbs to 1 cup of water. Bring the water to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30-60 minutes. Strain and squeeze out as much as liquid as possible and enjoy!
- You can sweeten your herbal decoctions with a bit of honey, natural fruit juice, stevia leaves powder and or licorice root powder.
You should consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using any herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.
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