Also known as Poke Plant, Pokeberry, Poke Salat, Inkberry, Polk Bush, and Poke Root.
The greenish white flower stalks develop into purple berries. Many species of birds are attracted to the berries. Although they are poisonous to humans, horses, swine, and cattle, birds can eat them without any ill effects.
Native Americans used the berries for dye, and introduced it to early settlers. The early American settlers used the berries for ink as well as dye. The Declaration of Independence is said to be written with fermented Pokeberry ink.
All parts of the plant are considered poisonous and much effort has been taken to warn people of the danger of eating poke salad. Although it is not as popular a food source as it once was, interest in it persists.
In the spring, the tender shoots are picked. They must be boiled for 5 minutes, drained, then boiled again to remove toxic properties. The greens can then be finished off in an iron skillet with bacon drippings, salt, and pepper. Sometimes eggs and/or cornmeal may be added. One half cup of the greens contain 35 calories, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 90% of the daily requirements of Vitamin A, 60% of Vitamin C, 8% Calcium, and 6% Iron.*
*nutritional information was taken from www.wildpantry.com