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American pokeweed or American Nightshade / Phytolacca americana / Youshu-yamagobo.

This bush can be seen here and there with its pendulant berries at this time of the year (summer). This bush is easily identified because of the red margins on the leaves and the flat shiny black berries.

Poke is well known among country folk in the south as a tasty cooked green. The sallet term in one of the common names is an old term for cooked greens. Tender young shoots are gathered and boiled twice discarding the first water to rid the leaves of any possible poison. Seasoned with salt and bacon drippings it is a popular dish in the rural south. The root, older leaves and possibly the berries can be toxic. Native Americans introduced this plant to European settlers and it was so popular as a potherb that seeds soon were being cultivated back in Europe.

Medical Uses: Various parts of the plant have been used since pre- Colombian times to treat many conditions. It seems the berry juice has been used for pimples and boils, in some cases taken internally in other cases applied to the skin. It has also been taken for joint pain and applied to sore breasts. Leaf concoctions have been used as an expectorant, emetic and cathartic. Warning: All parts of the plant may contain some toxins and Foster & Duke warn that the juice can cause dermatitis and damage chromosomes.


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