Pokeweed, Not Poison Sumac!


I have been getting a number of images of a strange looking plant asking if it is poison sumac. And it is a strange one, with big berries that turn purple. But it is NOT poison sumac. It is pokeweed. Phytolacca americana. It is not invasive; it is more American than even apple pie.

The berries are NOT edible. In fact, they are poisonous, but taste bad so few people try eating them. But the leaves and stems CAN be eaten if prepared properly to remove nasty plant chemicals.

Heard the song, Poke Sally Annie? This is the poke from that song. The Wikipedia article is full of fun information about this oddball plant.

I spent many happy hours as a kid playing with the berries and ending up with bright purple fingers from the juice.