poke weed

Asked September 15, 2015, 10:33 PM EDT

Is poke weed toxic?

Kentucky horticulture weed edible plants poke weed

1 Response

Poke, or pokeweed, Phytolacca Americana, is native to Eastern North America and some parts of the American west, and is often identified as a weed species in cultivated crops and pastures. All parts of the plant contain compounds that are toxic to humans and pets. Poisoning from eating berries is most common and fatalities have been reported especially in infants and small children who are more likely to consumer the bright purple/black ripe berries. Birds and some small animals do use the berries as food and so seem to be unaffected by the toxic compounds. Roots have the highest concentration of toxins but are less likely to be eaten. Sometimes roots are inadvertently harvest with the shoots in early spring and this should be avoided. Very young vegetative growth seems to have a lower concentration of toxins but levels of toxins increase as the growth matures. Although it is toxic, poke is often eaten, usually harvested as new shoots in the spring and cooked by boiling prior to consuming. Berries are even sometimes made into pies. However, because of the danger of poisoning, consumption of any part of the poke plant, at any time, is no longer recommended.