Poke salat - truth vs myth

March 20, 2006

There are lot of misconceptions about this plant, and a lot of unnecessary dire warnings about how toxic it is. I guess they figure it's easier to scare folks away than to educate them and count on them to do things the right way. How sad.

Here's the truth about poke salat - phytolacca americana.

Poke salat, when it matures, develops purple colorations on its stalk, flower stem, and berries and seeds. It is the MATURE leaves, and purple stem and seeds that contain the poisonous substances. Young plants are safe, as is the juice.

Young poke without any hint of purple makes an excellent dish of greens similar to spinach. It must be parboiled, then should drained well and added to a skillet and fried in butter or bacon drippings. It's a meal fit for a king.

Mountain folk often make a wine from the berries, claiming that a small glass each day helps relieve their arthritis symptoms. They also make a jelly, discarding the seeds. Many southern cities have festivals in honor of poke, and many websites contain lots of information.

Poke plants are spread far and wide by birds who gobble up the berries, then deposit the seeds for miles around. In fact, the seeds are difficult to germinate artifically because they prefer going through the acid in a digestive tract and then get frozen before they will sprout.

Poke root is a herbal remedy that has been used for millenia with excellent results, but can be poisonous when used incorrectly, as sometimes happens with someone who doesn't know what they are doing.

Poke salat has a place of honor in my garden, and in my kitchen.

Molly McBee

Comments (74)

  • jolj

    The root is deadly, no matter the season, then the berry & seeds, then the mature leaves & stalk.
    I never heard the berry juice is safe.
    I know people who do NOT perboil, say it is a waste.
    I have had poke once, it was good.
    I am with Lucky p, to many garden greens.
    They are easy to grow & cook, I eat collards year around.
    Anyone need poke seeds, I can get you some this Winter.

  • mollymcbee

    Boiling and rinsing removes most of the harmful toxins from the leaves and stalk. Failure to do so is dangerous and could result in severe illness or even death.

    The seeds also contain the toxin and must be discarded. The juice is bland and relatively tasteless, but is often mixed with strong flavored juice for jelly.

  • Bama1981

    Here in Alabama we gather poke in the Spring as do many others areas. However, our guide for gathering is the appearence of the berries or seed heads. Our plants have the magenta color from the get-go, so we were taught to use the berries as a guide.

  • t-bird

    very informative thread, thanks Molly.

    Have had this growing in my yard for years, just keep cutting it down.

    I'm a very adventurous eater and love all kinds of greens, but must say, it makes me nervous to try this - if in fact - it comes up again this year - have not seen it (or my asparagus!) yet this season.

    Very interesting to me is that the 3 major weed issues I have on this place are all edible - burdock, patience dock, and now this one! 2 owners ago was a serious gardener, seems to be the legacy.

    to clarify - 3 boilings of water and change water.....for how long each boils?

    I may get the courage to try. Apparently with patience dock, you also need to boil and discard water....

  • cousinfloyd

    Mollymcbee, I'm curious about your repeated warnings about boiling. You seem to take the warnings of eating poke without the changes of water very seriously. I've boiled with two changes of water myself, but I've heard and know too many people that ate poke for decades without following the self-anointed experts' advice to believe the danger isn't grossly exaggerated. Does anyone have any solid basis to believe anyone has actually suffered any (medical) harm from eating insufficiently boiled shoots or young leaves? Or is it all myth and hearsay?

  • herbsforall

    In the south most older folks ate ' poke sallet ' every spring when it first came up. They always used a generous amount of lard added to the poke leaves and water when cooking. They didn't forget to paraboil it first. Herbalist Tommy Bass told me that he used lard in his salve because it had the properties to counteract toxins.
    Several years ago I along with many others was struggling under the false premise that fats caused heart problems. I told my wife to prepare the poke sallet leaves with hardly any lard at all. After eating the poke sallet I ended up with extreme gripping in my intestines. I learned a valuable lesson from this.
    I have eaten many servings of poke sallet since then with the good advice from my wife to use plenty of lard and with no ill effects at all.

  • PatsyMac

    Great discussion! No rants, no trolls, very civilized and enjoyable.

    I was surprised, however, that no one mentioned the legendary Tony Joe White's classic "Poke Salat Annie;" here's a wonderful B&W video of him back in the day:

    Here is a link that might be useful: Tony Joe White, Poke Salat Annie

    This post was edited by PatsyMac on Sat, Nov 30, 13 at 10:42

  • eloise_ca

    Is there any nutritional value in eating poke besides possibly fiber, since it gets boiled so many times? I have a couple of volunteer poke plants in my garden and might consider eating provided they are worth eating, nutritionally.

  • mollymcbee

    Poke contains healthful substances that other wild or cultivated greens don't have. It is very high in minerals and vitamins. Check out the link below to get info on poke's nutritional value.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Nutritional value of pokeweed (poke salat)

  • eloise_ca

    Thanks for the link mollymcbee.

  • cousinfloyd

    I love having fresh greens this time of year before any of the spring garden plants are ready for harvest and especially after a winter that hardly any of the fall greens survived. The thicker stems are nice with the leaves. I'm also enjoying greenbriar shoots sauteed in lots of butter. I collect poke, but I wouldn't take the time to collect greenbriar shoots myself, but my children enjoy collecting them, and I definitely enjoy eating them.

  • aBirdinHand

    It's mid-July here in southern Illinois, and last evening I decided to try a mess of poke salat for the first time. It was with some trepidation I ventured toward the ravine behind our garage where I found an abundance of 6' plants with white blossoms clustered on drooping stems. The main stalks were magenta. I carefully picked the tenderest leaves 5" or less in length, pinching them off at the base of the leaf. After thoroughly washing the mess, I boiled them three times (5' hard boil each time), changing the water after each boil. After squeezing out the water I sauteed them with chopped onion for 15-20'. They were still bright green in color and tasted delicious--even without any seasoning, slightly sweet--we suffered no ill effects.

  • cheryl_ws101

    My mom used to half the poke stalk in half lengthwise, soak it, coat it in corn meal and fry it. It was delicious. She called it dry land fish. We never ate the leaves, though.

  • PRO
    Ningia Kittee

    I have been eating off mature plants most of my life. But it definitely gets cooked well. I love it sooooo much. It is my very favorite green.

  • wertach zone 7-B SC

    I've got about 20, 1 quart bags of poke in my freezer that I parboiled twice this spring before storing. And, of course, a lot of canned and frozen goodies from the garden. My fall greens are planted as of Saturday. I'm ready for winter!

  • crecord33

    I live eastern Kentucky. I cook and eat poke every year and either can or put some in the freezer. I often cook mature leaves, I never drain it, just try to cook the water down low. Then I add salt and lard or shortening, not in huge amounts, no more than I would add to other greens. Me and my husband loves them and have never gotten sick in any way from eating them. It does, however, clean you out pretty good.

  • wertach zone 7-B SC

    "It does, however, clean you out pretty good." That is the purpose for changing the water! Some of the "cleaning" stuff goes away if you change it! If I don't change the water at least once, I would be ready for a colonoscopy! All cleaned out! ;)

  • jolj

    Ningia, you can cut the mature plant down & it will grow back 3 or 4 time (after each cutting) before frost.

    I cut mine down so the deer will eat the new growth & leave my tomatoes alone for the most part.

  • crecord33

    It doesn't clean us out that good. Changing the water gets rid of some of the flavor and I'm sure nutrients.

  • rbstorie

    No changing water for me.Cook shoots and leaves 5-8 in small amount of water until tender. Drain, add a little vinegar and enjoy!Live in NC now but grew up in SE KY. Still have Farm in KY and just ate my yearly poke greens. Does not CLEAN ME OUT.. Guess everyone's digestive system is different. Been eating poke for years as well as my grandparents and parents. All lived to ripe old age. Yes always heard berries poisonous but stems near roots that are purple.. always ate those too!

  • sunidayze

    I knew you could paraboil the young leaves and eat them, but always thought the berries were poisonous - although they make a great natural dye and folks used to use poke berries for staining wood.

  • Ev Richardson

    I ate some pok salat yesterday and i am so sick puking and pooping non stop. I just cut them from the yard and cook them.I did not know to pre cook them and drain off the water..I eat and drank everything. its 2 days now and still feeling sick ..Help please!

  • zorba_the_greek

    The problem is a lot of ignorance, bravura, and poor memory. Poke weed is the one plant I get a huge amount of email about and most of it is wrong. Worse, like the OP ten years ago, her bad advice is making people sick today. I write conservatively about the species and my recommendations are conservative. A lot of folks take exception to that but I am responsible and they are not. Complicating the issue is a difference in shoots from seeds vs shoots from old roots. And then there is the entire preparation issue.

  • gaearedwood

    hi, glad to see this thread is still active. I love Poke so much that as a child they called me Poke Salat Annie (after the Billy Joe White song of that title) Here, in AL we had an old fashioned land taught herbalist named Tommy Bass who taught that Poke berries are not toxic. I use them every year when the berries come in to Face Paint and share this fun with kids. I was taught to only use tender young leaves and to parboil 2-3 times but I experimented and found that once is plenty and no where near 50 minutes, and I use all except the biggest leaves only because the smaller ones are more tender.

    Tommy Bass learned from years of witness/experience that eating 3-4 of the berries is excellent tonic and I have done so with no issues occurring. He also stated he had seen too many blackbirds dancing on their heads after consuming the berries to believe they were toxic.. however, they are intoxicating ~
    Peace Be With You

  • jolj

    The intoxicating is from the toxin that makes the bird drunk, just because it dose not kill the animal dose not mean it is safe or nontoxic.

    Wood grain alcohol is toxic, but people drink it anyways.

  • mollymcbee

    The toxin is in the sap and inside the seeds. The juice does not contain the toxin. Birds swallow the berries whole but the seeds pass through their digestive systems intact and the birds are not exposed to the toxin.
    The toxin does not make any animal 'drunk' but they might get very sick from it and possibly die if they ingest a lot of it.
    The poisonous part of the plant is the sap, and the root should be avoided because of the large amount of sap it contains. The shoots have very little toxin but still should be boiled and rinsed several times to get get rid of the sap that contains the toxin.

  • waymonvest

    The writings by Molly McBee is one of the very few writings that seem to know anything about what they are talking about when it comes to polk salad. The only difference from my thinking is that I eat the leaves from the time they get big enough until frost kills them. The only difference is that the old leaves has to be boiled longer to get them tender. the taste is the same. Never boil in but one water. Otherwise you loose lots of the taste. I have never eaten any part but the leaves, so cant comment on other parts. I do see comments posted sometime that polk is not poison, but the vast majority that have web sites say polk is poison. My Dad was born in 1886, ate polk all his life and it was around 1940 before he heard anything about it being poison. Around 1950 I started seeing articles in newspapers stating that polk was poison and that if you did eat it, to boil it at least three different waters. I am about 100% sure that grocery store owners put the paper to get people to stop eating free polk and buy their greens. BOY, DID IT WORK!! Been around 75 years since the ads appeared and 90% of people think polk is poison. You cant find one documenter fact where once boiled polk leaves has made anyone sick. By the way, people that is in some kind of authority that say polk is poison are probably in the pocket of large grocery chains.

  • mollymcbee

    My family has picked and eaten poke greens for generations and I have loved it since I was a small child. When I started hearing that it was poisonous, I started doing a lot of research and discovered a lot about it.
    There was one mention of a small child who died after he ate a piece of underbaked pokeberry pie. Knowing how unpalatable pokeberries are, I wonder that anyone would even think to bake a pie from them or that anyone would eat more than one bite. Since the toxin is in the inside of the very hard pokeberry seeds, he must have chewed some of them.
    There are many plants in nature that can be dangerous if used incorrectly and poke is one of them. With proper handling and use, it is a nutritious and healthy wild food.

  • jolj

    Molly may be right on everything Poke salat, but eating a food all your life & not getting sick is not proof that it dose not have toxins in it.

    Point in case, my Father started smoking at the tender age of 7 years old, at 40 he slowed from two packs to two cigarette. Then went back to two packs a day, until he

    died at 70, after fighting cancer for 13 months. He stopped smoking the day they told him he had cancer.

    Pork is bad for you, acorns are bad for you, all grilled meat are bad, they do not kill you.

  • waymonvest

    Not only have I ate Polk (boiled in only water) all my 82 years, my family has been feeding it to people that was around when some was on the dinner table for well over 100 years. For some it was the first time to eat it. Lots of people have eaten polk at my place that said that they had never eaten it before. NO ONE ever got the least bit sick. If that is not proof, I don't know what is. I would like for people that say that polk leaves (cooked until tender in one water) is poison to show me proof. As far as smoking, I started smoking in about 1949 and quit in 1974. I spent 35 years in the Alaska bush and began to see that I lungs were giving out before my legs, so I quit cold turkey. My Dad dipped snuff and ate pork all his adult life and he lived to 102. By the way, who would buy a seven year old Kid cigarettes.

  • waymonvest

    In my last post, I meant to say (Boiled in only ONE water)

  • jolj

    By the way, who would buy a seven year old Kid cigarettes?

    In the 1940's people though smoking was harmless, because they & the parents had been doing it for 100 years or better years & lived into their 80's.

    My father worked on a farm after school & in the summer for pocket change & bought his on smokes. Again in the 1940's most people worked & their kids did too.

  • zorba_the_greek

    Perhaps more email is generated over pokeweed than any other edible wild species. First, anyone who calls it "salad" is wrong. It is sallet... which sounds like "salad" in English but in French means cooked greens. Never eat it raw. Secondly there are reasonable concerns that fresh shoots from this year's seeds are not as toxic as shoots from old roots and that might account of different boiling needs. Thirdly a lot of folks who nay say caution never picked it themselves or harvested it themselves and often have incomplete or wrong memories on how a now-dead relative harvested, prepared and cooked it et cetera. As for no reports on toxicity that is shear nonsense.

    In Plants That Poison People In Florida Professor Julia Morton on page 34 writes a child died in 1961 in Rhode Island after eating poke berries and was in a coma for 11 days before she died. In 1964 a woman in Wake County North Carolina died after eating raw or poorly prepared poke greens. Humans have been made sick eating pigeons who have eaten poke berries. She writes the toxin is similar to that of water hemlock.

    On page 39 of Guide to the Poisonous And Irritant Plants of Florida — Perkins & Payne 1978 — it states “Pokeweed is a common cause of poisoning to humans and livestock.” They report a child dying from drinking “grape juice” made from crushed berries. Many doctors consider the plant so toxic they have worked towards having it eradicated.

    Professor John Kingsbury in his seminal tome “Poisonous Plants of the United States and Canada” states on page 227 it has been fatal to humans and among livestock quite often pigs. You either recover in 24 hours or you’re dead.

  • rbstorie

    Agree that the berries MIGHT be poisonous but I can affirm that the young leaves and shoots are NOT. No one in my family EVER sick from polk greens or stems. One water boiled is all I have ever used or seen... Maybe it is genetic?? One person somewhere in history reacted??? Got this myth started?? Who knows?? I will just keep on enjoying.. And if you have never tried them, I suggest you give it a try.. Shoots and leaves are great. Boil, drain and serve with vinegar. Have also tried boiling, then stir frying in a little oil.. My family used to boil, chop up finely, mix with egg and cornmeal and fry into patties. That is also good but too much trouble for me..

  • jolj

    A lot of plant not cook correctly can harm you, like Poke sallet or Kale:

    NOW, YOU CAN READ ON… and leave me your own comments at the end of this article.

    Goitrogenic foods include cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts. Some fruits, nuts and seeds contain goitrogens as well, like peaches, strawberries, pears, peanuts, soy and flax. A complete list is at the end of this article.

    It’s not that goitrogenic foods are bad. I want to make the point that they are NOT BAD. I have promoted them for years, as superfoods. They are. But in their raw form, and in large amounts, they can affect iodine levels. It’s a fact. THAT IS NOT MY OPINON. They contain healthy sulfur-based compounds, as well as lots of other nutrients. I recommend you eat them, but cook them first okay?

    That said, if you have (or are afraid of getting) thyroid disease, they are a BAD MATCH for you. Many of you have dealt with

  • mollymcbee

    The key to safety when eating poke greens is knowing how to pick and prepare them properly. They MUST be boiled and drained to get rid of the sap & toxins it contains. Young shoots have far less then older plants and old timers know not to pick it after the stalks start turning magenta and it's more poisonous.

    If you ever get the chance, put one drop of the juice from a berry on your tongue to taste it. It definitely has its own taste and is unpleasant enough that no one would be tempted to eat them. Kids love to throw them at each other because they're like tiny water balloons that burst and leave a bright magenta splat (it washes out with a little soap and water) but you don't have to worry that they will gorge on the berries unless they are downright starving and can't get anything else to eat.

    Much of the hype about the danger comes from people who are not acquainted with poke and are 'doing their duty' passing on the dire warnings from someone else. I once witnessed someone swearing that she would never have anything so poisonous in her garden so I asked if she grew potatoes or tomatoes, both of which can kill you if handled/eaten wrong (both are members of the deadly nightshade family).
    Caution goes a long way. If you don't know the correct way to handle a plant, leave it alone.
    By the way, tobacco we used back a century ago didn't have all the chemical fertilizers, pesticides & herbicides sprayed on it that today's crops are soaked in. A cigarette today is much more deadly than what was available before 'modern' methods were used to raise tobacco. But I agree - who would let a 7-yr old smoke?

  • waymonvest

    I will answer two post.

    I was born in 1934on a 127 acre farm. When I was probably eleven I would pick cotton on other farms to make a little money. At 15 I did a mans job at a sawmill one summer. Not sure what I could have hired out on a farm to do at seven to earn money. Although Dad dipped snuff all his life (102 years) he told me that he tried cigarettes for a while when young and could tell that they were hurting him. He did NOT want me to smoke and I hid my cigarettes from him for at least two years. Dad never went to school and could not read or write. He wasn't like some people at the time. Lots of farmers took their kids out of school as soon as they got old enough to work on the farm. They said that they didn't need an education to work the farm. Dad made sure that all seven of his kids finished high school. He said that he knew how it was not to have an education.

    I don't know why people keep harping on what other parts of poke weeds will do to you. I can't speak for anything but the leaves, but as many mistakes the so called professional people say about poke leaves, I don't believe anything they say about any part of the plant. I think they are in the pocket of large grocery chains and are trying to scare people out of eating free poke. Also, it would take a real idiot to think Poke is poisonous to cattle. My Dad also raised beef cattle and they loved poke and the only place in the pasture you could find it was on top of a windrow or some other place that cattle couldn't get. Birds scattered seeds all over the pasture, but cattle and deer kept it eaten down if they could get to it. I am no drugstore cowboy, I worked cattle until I joined the USMC not long out of high school. I am still waiting for someone to show me proof that poke leaves that has been boiled until tender in one water has ever made anyone sick.

  • waymonvest

    I know that you can get about any answer you are looking for on google, and I know for a fact that many are not correct. I have been hearing for years that the sallet part of poke sallet is a French word meaning greens. I googled sallet and the definition in French is a helmet. It also stated that sallet is a Middle English word meaning greens cooked until tender.

  • jolj

    My Dad also raised beef cattle and they loved poke and the only place in the pasture you could find it was on top of a

    Deer eat my poke, I cut it down so the flowers will not seed & the deer eat the new stakes, with young leaves. It keeps them our of my tomatoes.

  • zorba_the_greek

    And where do you think that Middle English word for cooked greens came from? French.

  • waymonvest

    Maybe someone could explain this to me. I read a comment posted yesterday that people either died or at least got sick from eating pigeons that had been eating poke berries. I always thought that the toxin was in the seed and the seed went through the bird intact. I also read in the same post that someone died from drinking grape juice.

  • zorba_the_greek

    I reported both from publications I have in my library, not an online search. And it was not from "grape juice." It was from making a grape juice like drink from the berries. That is why in the post "grape juice" was in quotes. It is not unheard of that humans get sick from eating creatures that have eaten something such as dying from eating a land turtle that ate a mushroom toxic to humans. Poke weed can kill you if not prepared correctly. Or said another way, if you prepared it in certain ways it is safe to eat. If you prepare it in other ways it is not safe to eat. That's the bottom line. Frankly I don't understand the hubris. If you want to trust your life to people unknown that the toxicity is over blown have at it. I won't say I told you so when you're dead. I quoted four authorities by name, two of them botany professors who over their careers wrote hundreds of professional articles and several books two specifically about poisonous plants. Who are you going to trust? Experts who put their name to their work and say be careful or some anonymous poster who says the toxicity is overblown?

  • waymonvest

    I know that this site is for people to make comments and not for an argument between two people, so this will be my last post on the mater. I will tell a story unrelated to poke. About 1971 I started collecting rare animal traps. the largest trap mfg. in the world between the very early 1850's and 1925 was The Oneida Community of Oneida, NY. A religious Commune from 1848 to 1880 when they broke up then commune part. I bought everything I could find written about Oneida Community traps and form the most part believed what I read. I figured that they knew what they were talking about if they wrote it. The Oneida Community put out a weekly paper from 1850-1880. I have over 300 of them. From 1865 to 1912 they put out a Trappers Guide about every three years. updated each issue. I have all of them. After 10 or 15 years of reading these publications, I saw that about 90% of what I had read about the Community traps wrote in the last 30 or 40 years was bogus. I am not dumb enough to think that traps is the only thing that people write about just to be writing and don't care in the least if what they write is correct or not. I did read where a disease control agency did a study on poke. I don't remember the exact % but a high % had very mild reaction a very high % had no reaction and zero fatalities. Just because it is in a book or publications (these can be just as bad as google) that don't make it correct. I would still like to know how poke poison got onto the flesh of a pigeon from eating poke berries when the sead is what has the poison and it would have passed through the pigeon intact. Another case in point where an author had no idea what they were talking about. Also if you make juice out of grapes it is grape juice out of apples it is apple juice, peaches it is peach juice. If you make juice out of poke berries, it is poke berry juice not grape juice.

  • jolj

    Horse barns spray for insect control, spray falls on stall liter & the liter is composted & the compost is put in a vegetable garden, then found in test of the fruit of the vine.

    There are hundred of case like this, it dose not matter how many hard heads say it is not so, because we have done it a 100 year.

  • cousinfloyd

    "I am still waiting for someone to show me proof that poke leaves that
    has been boiled until tender in one water has ever made anyone sick."

    One thing you're very likely to die doing is waiting to hear of that person.

  • cousinfloyd

    "Secondly there are reasonable concerns that fresh shoots from this
    year's seeds are not as toxic as shoots from old roots and that might
    account of different boiling needs."

    Nonsense. You don't seem to know the most basic things about poke, which helps to explain your groundless fear and fear-mongering.

  • rgreen48

    This certainly isn't my fight - I don't even eat it, but a lot of people here in E. Tn. do eat poke. I do a fair amount of foraging, mostly to learn the wild plants and how to prepare them. Some I eat all the time, others I try just to taste. But I've been reading this exchange for a few days now, and I think some things should be emphasized.

    As long as I have a positive id, I don't mind eating plants that have toxic and edible components. In fact, I have a bowl of wild black cherries in the fridge that will become syrup later today after I separate out the toxic pits... not an easy task btw...

    However, when posting on a public message board, I always, ALWAYS lean to the side of caution. It's a simple maxim... what I am willing to do with my choices are a much different matter than what I suggest that others do with their own.

    In the case of the cherries... I'll be glad to tell you that the flesh of the fruit is edible, but I will heavily caution that, when working with them, I wouldn't even scratch the toxic pits. In fact, I wouldn't use any metal tools. I would also add that the person look up for themselves the toxicity of all parts of the trees, especially leaves drying on a broken branch. They routinely take out large cattle with much better digestive protections against wild foods.

    I try to be cautious, especially since foraging isn't really necessary to my lifestyle. I simply enjoy it. I like the idea of eating rare foods and flavors untouched by, and unavailable in, the factory food marketplace. And when discussing these foods on a public forum where some, potentially, may not have the faculties to understand the danger, why suggest that people cut corners?

    You don't ask for proof that it's poisonous. You assume it's poisonous! Knowledge is what helps a person make good choices. If you aren't 100% sure of what you are doing, you don't lessen the caution, you increase it. If you wish to take the risk yourself, that's a choice you live with (hopefully,) but you don't argue for the lessening of caution that might put others at risk.

    If you have the ability to hire a laboratory and test out the amount and effect of the toxin across a wide selection of poke varieties, as well as using various cooking methods, along with portion size, frequency of consumption, and weight and maturity level of the individuals consuming, then have at it - and please publish your findings. Until then, the cautions should remain in place.

  • waymonvest

    I know that I said that I wasn't going to post anything else about polk salad. This post isn't about polk, it is about thumbs up (like) check. I read an off the wall post on July 1 and it got two thumbs up right quick. I posted a post a little later and just to check it out I gave myself a thumbs up. Well, it counted. I don't think you should be able to give oneself a thumbs up.

  • Marie Morris

    I have to agree that even the smallest, newest sprout I've ever seen in the wilds of Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida all have some magenta on the stems. Maybe there's an odd one that doesn't have pigmentation but I've been picking poke salat for at least 55 years and haven't found one yet. I've read (with humor) that one article said that all parts of the plant are toxic but that the berries are the least toxic. If one article says that the berries are the least toxic, then exactly how toxic are the seeds? Is there any level of toxicity that you want to be the guinea pig to investigate, please ask your next of kin to let me know how the experiment went. I suspect the toxicity lies within the seeds inside the berry itself that is toxic. However, that said I consume 4 dried berries each morning and the same each evening with no ill effects. One week I skipped the usual and took none at all. When I resumed the 4 each morning, I got ill feelings. Had to start out with only one each morning and one each evening until I'd worked up to the 8 a day.

    I've also taken the tender stalks, removed the skin from them, and made some wonderful sweet and some nice dill pickles from them. You can also skin the stalks, cut up like okra, bread it and fry it. Steamed is good with a drizzle of cheese sauce.

    Really neat plant but worthy of due respect.

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