07.29.2020-2 No pig in a poke this

Another yard shot, these are green berries, not yet ripened, of American Pokeweed-Phytolacca americana.

We have quite a few of these plants and, as they are native, we don’t discourage their numbers in the yard.  There are other plants that we have here that were mistakes to acquire, such as the Canadian Anemone that has run wild since we were given one single plant. That was a pig in a poke but the pokeweed is not.

Pokeweed leaves are another of those folk foods/herbal medicines that require quite a bit of preparation to be able to consume as they are poisonous otherwise.  I guess Polk Salad Annie was willing to do the hard labor. Aside from not foraging, I also eschew chewing anything potentially poisonous.  When the berries ripen they will be dark purple and can be used for dyeing.  Maybe I’ll pick some and get back into tie-dyeing.  🙂

About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Closeup Photography, Flora, macro photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to 07.29.2020-2 No pig in a poke this

  1. This is another species we share. I remember it from growing up on Long Island, and we also have it in Austin.

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  2. At a quick glance they look like an emerald necklace. Oh, nature is so fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mike Powell says:

    I remember being confused as a kid by the expression “pig in a poke” and it was only much later in life that I learned that a “poke” is a bag. Interestingly enough, when I was learning Russian, I learned that the equivalent Russian expression is “кот в мешке,” which means “a cat in a bag.” Apparently in olden times you sometimes bought animals, including piglets, in bags and unscrupulous merchants would switch out the piglets and replace them with cats. The American expression focuses on what you were supposed to get, while the Russian one focuses on what you actually got. Some might say that the difference relates to the more inherently optimistic American national culture. When a situation is dire, an American might say, “It can’t get any worse,” while the more fatalistic Russian might reply, “Yes, it can.” As for pokeberries, I’d love to see you make a tie-dyed t-shirt. 🙂

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  4. Ann Mackay says:

    Better to make a tie-dye t-shirt than eat them. (And I know how rampant anemones can be – Japanese ones in our case – argh!)

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    • As a non-forager I generally don’t eat anything in the wild. Even if it is something palatable like a raspberry I still leave those for the animals that rely on them. We are sometimes bewildered when it is time to thin out the anemone crop.

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      • Ann Mackay says:

        That’s probably very wise. As a kid we used to be able to go out for family walks on the hill behind us and come back with lots of field mushrooms. Not something I’d try here – I don’t know enough about what else there might be!

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  5. Very nice Steve! Love the interesting background that highlights the American Pokeweed. Would make an interesting print!

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  6. shoreacres says:

    I’m still looking for some photo-worthy pokeweed to go with a post that’s languishing in my files. I know it’s supposed to be everywhere, but the few times I’ve come across it, those berries have ripened and been eaten. An empty stem a beguiling photo doesn’t make.

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  7. melissabluefineart says:

    I smile every time I see a pokeweed. As I understand it it is an early succession plant, seen mostly in land that has been disturbed and is on its way back to health. Pokeweed helps lead the charge! It is a favorite plant of my friend Joyce’s, so when we come across it we always celebrate. Can’t wait to see the results of your tie-dying! 🙂

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  8. Jim R says:

    We have it growing right behind our house.

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  9. Littlesundog says:

    The leaves and berries of mature poke plants are lovely to photograph in late summer and autumn, but what an invasive plant and beyond difficult to manage it is! We have it all over this property. Over the years though, I find myself enjoying the brilliant colors of leaves as they change from various shades of green to some mighty vibrant reds. I haven’t noticed birds eating the berries, but grasshoppers seem to love the leaves. I understand the Native American’s used the berries for dying threads and fabrics. As for eating the plant, one would pick it before it reaches a foot tall, and much care has to be taken to make sure toxins are boiled out before eating. I’ve never been tempted to try it – it’s too labor intensive a process for me to be interested!

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    • There are already enough food choices that in my opinion we need not pursue those with such risky possibilities.Case in point mushrooms and, in this instance, pokeweed. It does seem to spread wildly but so far hasn’t really impacted our yard too terribly. And the flowers with those green berries in the middle are a delight. I also haven’t noticed the berries disappearing so not much chomping happening.

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  10. Eliza Waters says:

    I love their little floral ‘buttons’ – and the mature purple fruit against the green stems are esp. beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. bluebrightly says:

    A fun post – especially that last sentence. And another plant I really don’t see anymore, so that’s another pleasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Dave Ply says:

    Around here they’re considered an invasive species. We have a couple that come up every year, next to the shed.

    Liked by 1 person

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