Pokeberry, Phytolacca americana, is a toxic plant whose root is used in drop or low dosage by experienced herbalists as a lymphatic stimulant. As with all low dose medicinals, the difference between poison and medicine is dosage. Poke is used in Appalachian and other Southern folks traditions as a green in food but it has to go through an extensive process of “washing” through several batches of boiling to be safe to use as a cooked green.
Poke a pretty common native weedy plant that is showy and large with reddish stems. The white flowers are arranged as a what’s termed a raceme that then ripens from green to purple berries. You can see here how as the raceme develops, the fruits ripen from the bottom of the arrangement upwards so the last to ripen are on top. The seeds of the berries, like the rest of the plant, have been found to cause respiratory paralysis and death if improperly used.
Energetically, I have used the flowers as an essence for transforming negative emotions. We have also experimented with the berries and made a dye and a succus using a method shown by herbalist and biochemist, Lisa Ganora. As a tincture, I use 5 drop dosage in cases of lowered immunity and lymph congestion, and also apply the plant topically to swollen lymph. This is not recommended for untrained practitioners. I teach it’s use and application to professionals so as to stay safe.
Look for Poke in Central Texas in forested areas. In the fall and winter they really stick out and are easy to identify. As the rest of the forest loses its leaves, poke and it’s berries stand out in stark contrast. #poke#wildflowerherbschool #pokeberry #medicinalplantsoftexas