Pokeberry

We see a lot of pokeberry at the nature parks near here and elsewhere lining rural fence rows and along walking trails. The berries are edible if cooked and toxic otherwise. The stems of the plants, which might grow to 8 feet, come in different colors. The berries are green to begin with, turn dark purple then black on maturity. This wild flower attained some notoriety with Tony Joe White’s 1968 hit song ‘Polk Salad Annie.’ The actual food referred to is not a salad but correctly called poke (or polk) sallet. Sallet is an old English word meaning ‘cooked greens.’

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