Poke is considered a poisonous plant. It grows all over Northern Virginia. It is a common weed, very, very easy to grow
with no fussy requirements. I have seen poke growing in the shade, in the sun, in a dry patch and near to a swamp. Pick the
young poke leaves from a plant without berries, enough to fill a pot. Soak them in salt water for a while to be sure the
insects come off. Boil the leaves for 5 minutes to remove the toxic material from the leaves and throw that water away. Add
more water and boil for about 10 or more minutes more, until the leaves are soft. Drain off most of the water, chop the
leaves, place in bowl, season as desired and eat. Very young leaves can be eaten raw in a salad.
The berries of poke are considered mildly poisonous. I do not know why. I have used the crushed poke berries (also called ink berries) as a magenta lip stain for many years with no signs of poisoning. I have also eaten the berries, which taste bland, (not sweet at all) to no ill effect. The berries contain little hard yellow seeds which I have just realized that I should start collecting!
Offered by Laura.
Poke weed is still a staple in the Appalachians. Try a search on Poke, Poke, or Polk and Salad, Salat, or Sallet (so many fun spellings) to see recipes for this common plant.
Offered by Michael.