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P. americana L. - Pokeweed, or Pigeon Berry - The root is poisonous. Common; in clearings, roadsides, waste places. In moist soil.


Pokeweed plant: Early September, 2004 This is a most interesting plant native to America. The plants, growing up to nine foot in height, are somewhat fleshy. The young leaves may be prepared much like cooked spinach, but care must be taken to boil them twice to remove a toxic component. Occasionally the prepared leaves are sold canned in markets. The flowers are light green to white color and once pollinated form attractive clusters of berries; the weight of which often pulls the plant to the ground.

Pokeweed berries.jpg

Pokeweed berries: Early September, 2003 The berries, though poisonous, are a source of a brilliant purple/dark red pigment used by natives to dye textiles and later to artificially color red wines (not allowed anymore due to the toxic nature of the juice). One of the toxic components found in the roots and in the berries causes clumping of the red blood cells and triggers abnormal division of, otherwise resting, B & T-lymphocytes.

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