Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by jrg24, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. jrg24

    jrg24 Member

    I just recently discovered a plant in my back yard called pokeweed. many may know what it is, but for those who dont, it looks like this:


    The plant is considered to be poisonous by many, however in the south there are festivals celebrating it. you may have heard of poke salad. anyway, i have been doing a little research about this plant, and it seems it may be a very valuable plant to have around. It is being researched for possible preventative use to stop HIV, and even for the treatment of some cancers. I found this online about its cancer uses:

    New research has revealed that a possible CURE for Childhood Leukemia called (B43-PAP) is found in the common Pokeweed. Anti-B43-pokeweed antiviral protein, B43-PAP, PAP is a pokeweed toxin. The B43 carries the weapon--the PAP--to the leukemia cells. It has been touted as a smart weapon. In one study 15 out of 18 children who had participated had attained remission. The following is part of a repot from Parker Hughes Institute: The two parts of this drug are the B43 antibody (or anti-CD19) and the pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) immunotoxin, a natural product in the pokeweed plant. B43 is designed to recognize specific B-cell leukemia cells just as natural antibodies attack and recognize germs. When the antibody finds a leukemia cell, it attaches and B43 delivers the other part of the drug, PAP. Inside the cell, PAP is released by the antibody and inactivates the ribosomes that make the proteins the cell needs to survive. With the cell unable to produce proteins, the specific leukemia cell is killed. More than 100 patients have been treated with B43-PAP and shown only minimal side effects.

    Poke Herb, Pokeweed, Poke Berries, Phytolacca americana, uses, Poke Salet

    anyway, while on another forum a guy told me that the berries, if you eat one for every 50 pounds of body weight, can also be used for pain management for headaches. topical uses of the plant have been used since before the white man showed up on North America. I found it interesting, and will allow my pokeweed to continue growing in my backyard.

    oh yeah, and the berries can be used as a dye. their are letters written during the civil war by soldiers who used poke berries for ink. pretty cool, i think.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2010
  2. gypsysue

    gypsysue The wanderer

    Very informative. Thanks!

  3. twiggie

    twiggie The end is extremely nigh

    The crushed berries can also be used to stun fish in waterways for easy harvest. Lol. I Haven't done enough experimentation with amounts to know how much is needed though.
  4. kyfarmer

    kyfarmer Well-Known Member

    I have been eating polk for years, and no matter what some one tell ya. Don't eat the berries. Do what ya want, thats the only way to learn. :p I do harvest in the spring the young shoots and leaves but latter in the year it gets kinda real strong and could cause stomach problems. Much like fiddle heads great when young and curled, eat latter and puke ya azz off.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  5. wynhaus

    wynhaus New Member

    I disagree with .... no matter what people tell you .... don't eat the berrres...

    A study at Oklahoma University showed that a person would have to eat pounds of the stuff to die. If you eat a few no problem. I have eaten as many as a hundred without any problems.
    You should build up to it though if you are so inclined. Initially the berries will definitely make your colon very active. In other words gas and diarrhea.....

    They are a cleanser.

    In my mind Poke is one the best medicines in the world.... if you need medicine.
  6. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

    I like how you found something on your property and researched its uses. That's something DH and I need to do on our property.
  7. Momturtle

    Momturtle Well-Known Member

    Of course you can eat poke greens in the spring, when they are still green and have no red in the stems or leaves. They are totally delicious. We never used multiple changes of water, and we always had a mixed bag of greens -- poke, cress, chickweed, wild mustard, dandelions. The red/purple stain from the berries is a wonderful dye and very colorfast in things you do NOT want stained. Not as good if you want a permanent color. The question of whether the berries are toxic will go on forever. It is true that the Oklahoma study said a that a human male would have to eat 45 pounds of berries to experience a toxic result. However, that is assuming that humans react the same way to the toxins in the berries as mice do. It also mentioned in their attempts at mice murder that the effect was cumulative - had to inject in to the mice stomachs several times before toxicity was achieved. One or two berries, probably no harm. Would I want to eat a bunch to see if it killed me? Probably not. True, there are smaller amounts of the toxins in the berries than the roots and the berries are used to flavor wine in Europe. But they do contain strong alkaloids and saponins -- not my first choice for dinner when there are soooo many other yummies out there at the same time of year. Do love the greens though!
  8. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    I have eaten poke greens all my life, they have a very distinctive flavor and go well with boiled eggs sliced on top. We change the water one time after they come to a boil but when they are eaten early in the spring, it is not really necessary. When the greens are picked later in the year, after some red appears in the stalks, stems and leaves is when the water change is needed.

    The berries are toxic/medicinal, in quantities they can be used as a "purgative", eat them and they can mane you blow off at both ends. Birds seem to eat them, though, without consequences. If you have poke growing near you it is common to see the deep purple bird poop where ever you have birds sitting or roosting.

    Poke greens are one of the wild delicacies that I look forward to and if I could ever find enough for more than a meal or two at a time, I would have a shelf full of canned greens on hand for year round eating.

    I have written up a page on the medicinal properties of poke for my daughters to use as a reference when SHTF and will post it when I find it.
  9. durablefaith

    durablefaith New Member

    Fascinating thread. I was trained by green dean (foraging expert) to drain the water and altogether avoid the berries. Glad to hear some feedback on the berries.

    I have noticed that things that heal often have mild toxicity profiles. Juniper berries are edible in small quantities, very tasty too I might add and I've heard they are used to flavor gin as well. And sage makes good sedative tea but can be toxic in super large quantities.
  10. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    On the sage tea, "SageAdvicefarmgirl" could probably ring in on that, maybe she will read this thread and post.
  11. LilRedHen

    LilRedHen Well-Known Member

    Dave, I'm with you. I have eaten poke all my life. My parents thought it would kill you if you didn't change the water. I once cooked some and then took my dad a bowl full. A few days later I asked him how the polk was. He said it was good, so then I confessed that I didn't change the water when I cooked it.

    Polk stalks are good parboiled, peeled, chopped to bite size pieces, rolled in meal and fried like okra. The parboiling helps soften the outer layer.

    If you know where trees have been cut down or land bulldozed, the next spring there will be plenty of polk in those areas. I have also noticed that it comes up where 'Round-Up' has been sprayed to control weeds.

    I would really like to know more about the medicinal properties and hope you find your information soon.
  12. mdprepper

    mdprepper I sold my soul to The_Blob. He had candy...

  13. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    Never heard of anyone eating the stalks, gonna put that on my list for this spring, if it works out ok and tastes anything like the greens will have another dish on my menu. Thank you for the heads up on the stalks.

    As a kid I always wondered why poke would always grow around wood piles until I put 2 and 2 together about the berries and birds.....

    On the medicinals, I had a hard drive crash on my Puter a year or so ago. I had the sense to have had all my data backed up on jump drives and the file on poke is in one of those drives in a lock box in the closet. Will get them out and find it soon.

    durablefaith, I THINK, that the need for a water water change is because of an "alkaloid" that concentrates in the plant as it matures, don't recall which one it is but am going to look it up when I get my Jump Drives out. I think that is the reason that most people eat it in the spring while the plants are young. If I remember right, the "alkaloid" will not cause problems unless large quantities are eaten but why take chances....
  14. AlabamaGal

    AlabamaGal Moderately Doomish

    I agree about the nexus of toxicity and medicinal use. Just because something is good for a condition doesn't mean it's good in unlimited quantities. If poke salat is eaten as one of many of the available early spring greens, it is unlikely to be enough to harm. (I don't care for it myself.)

    An African-American folk remedy for arthritis is to eat the berries in the spring as follows:
    Day 1 - one berry
    Day 2 - two berries
    Day 3 - three berries
    ...and so forth until...
    Day 7 - seven berries
    Day 8 - six berries
    ... and reduce back down one each day until you get to zero.
  15. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    That remedy is consistent with what I learned of its medicinal qualities, the roots and berries had anti-inflammatory properties.

    Tylenol, Advil, Naproxin, CELEBREX...., and all other NSAIDs are pretty rough on the liver and have cardiac issues so this remedy, for me, is worth a try. I will be a guinea pig and try it out this spring and will post the results when I do.
  16. Possumfam

    Possumfam Well-Known Member

    I have a silly question. These berries, are you supposed to swallow them whole like a pill, or crush/chew them? ...or does it even matter?
  17. Davarm

    Davarm Texan

    I would try swallowing them, If you chew them you would wind up with a very purple mouth, tongue, and teeth for a very long time.

    Come to think of it, when you see the bird poop with the berries in it, it is also a deep dark purple, maybe they should only be eaten in an extreme situation. LOL