Thursday, April 3, 2008

Poke Me a Salat?

Who doesn't recognize this pretty plant? Anyone? Yes, I'll bet there are many reading this who do NOT recognize it or who have not ever even heard of Poke Weed-Salat. That would generally be the northerners.

I was a northerner who had never heard of Poke Salat when I initially moved here in 2001. My mother-in-law told me what it was. She is a southerner, born and bred. She probably thought I was pretty dumb, not knowing or ever hearing of poke weed?!

Boy, what a pretty plant with those red stems and black berries, I thought. That was then, this is now. And I have changed my thoughts, considerably.

I do still think poke weed is a pretty plant. It really is. A big, prolific, red stemmed, big leaved, hard to get rid of plant. Oh yeah, it is edible. Did I say it is edible? Only if you eat the leaves and only when they are young, very young. According to the following website:, poke weed is an herb. It's latin name is Phytolacca americana, and it is native to the eastern United States. That must be why it adapts so well in my garden.

Lola tells me you pick the leaves young and boil them three times, changing the water each time. During the last boil you can add seasonings to the water and treat the poke salat leaves just like any other greens, such as turnip greens. I have never been brave enough to eat this plant though it grows well in my garden. Since I am a woman who agrees to try everything at least once, I will try poke weed at some point. Probably when my mother-in-law cooks it. (If she ever does)

I sometimes let poke weed grow for awhile. This plant emerges early in the season and grows rapidly. I have seen it growing to over 6 feet tall! But it only reached that stage prior to me moving in to this house; when the yard was very neglected. I pretty much stay on it now. When I am kind and let it grow, it will only grow until my other plants fill in and only as long as it is does not have ripe berries. The berries are a problem because the birds eat them, then disperse them all around the area. I can't figure that one out since the berries are toxic. Normally, birds and humans can eat pretty much the same berries.

Once you have it in your garden it can be difficult to get rid of. I have found it fairly easy to pull when it is young, but it does return from the roots each year. Those roots are the bear. They are hard to pull once it is firmly established and has gained some size. Even Roundup doesn't always kill it. Sigh.

So, for all you Northerners, what do you think of our Poke Salat? Like Lola and Nina said, anyone from Tennessee knows what it is. Mr. Fix-it's co-worker, Robert, told a funny story about Poke Salat. We were all meeting at a local pizza joint; which was very crowded. The parking lot was over full. As Robert waited for a parking place, he was incredulous. He actually had to wait for two women to fawn over a Poke Salat weed growing in the cracks of the parking lot! The friend said, "Come on, it's just stupid Poke Salat!" He couldn't believe people would find it fascinating AND make him wait for their parking space. To be in awe of a common weed growing in a parking lot?! Obviously he is from the south (Kentucky), and the two ladies had to be northerners. Being a southerner, he never let on to them he was a bit mad about having to wait.

in the garden....hunting down those ole poke weeds.


  1. With all the edible weeds and wildflowers it would be interesting to see a few weed recipes! What does poke weed taste like? I've never had it. Is it like a spinach flavor?

  2. This is a pretty plant, pretty berries. I can't imagine eating it but there are worse things.
    Changing boiler today, crossing my fingers.
    I am going to look into the ginseng thing and if successful, will try replanting. I'm amazed about the info on it and how long it takes. It must be by hardwood, never noticed. Maine indicated some sort of program but the link was broken to it, so far no laws but a wish to keep it in existance. (NEVER, NEVER take more than you can replace!)
    Gosh! Haveta start looking for ginko. Have a good day everyone.

  3. Well...wild ginseng is protected in ME. If you want to grow it...need to contact the state inspectors for them to look on your land before hand and if no wild ginseng exist, they will permit you, but, THEN come back for the harvest. It has been compared to the "funny" weed up here. That is...people doing it illegally.
    Seeds need to be mashed from the berry, floated in water to seperate, put in sand of a ratio--40% seed to 50% sand, placed in a cardboard box, buried in the ground for 1 year. Then won't sprout for another year. Whew!
    Found the info on city-data. com in forum style.

  4. Ewww, poke salet. I am a true southerner and let me just tell you...I am not eating it. And I eat almost everything. My dad used to cook it, yuck. There are alot of people who truly do like it but I am not one of them.

  5. dave, I have no idea what it tastes like but jillybean doesn't like it! Anyone else can tell us what it tastes like? Nina? Lola? I do like spinach so if it tastes like that or even turnip greens I could eat it.

    dawn, Good luck with the new boiler! It is a big job? Jack of all trades is doing it? And this will fix all the heat and water?

    Did you mean ginseng or ginkgo you have to look for? I like ginkgo trees but don't have one. They are recommended trees but grow slow so you want to plant one now if that is what you meant! Sounds like germinating ginseng seeds would be a long in depth process. I never knew any of this at all.

    Hi jillybean! Did your dad cook a lot of the poke weed? It sounds interesting though I am still scared to eat it because I am not sure how exactly to pick it. I know the young leaves but still, not brave enough. We will probably use our gift card tonight if hubby can get off from work at a reasonable hour.

  6. Hello everyone, I'm BACK!!! I am so far behind on emails, Blogs that I must just start here and not go into the past Blogs. My neck and shoulders are in a bit of pain from being on the computer so long today catching up! So I will just have be left out in the dark on some things. So everyone bear with me if I ask about something you already touched upon.... I have never had Poke Salad in my life. I like turnip greens and spinach though.

    Thank you so much to all of you that sent me Get Well wishes! It was such a surprise and brightened each day for me. Really put a smile on my face! Surgery went well and I did not have any bleeding. I had no idea I would be able to talk! Saint was not too happy about that one. LOL. I was a good patient and stayed in bed or on the futon in the sunroom for 8 straight days with nothing but the TV, banana popsicles and my kitties to keep me company. Saint kept me on a constant drug schedule and drinking liquids. Day 7 of the healing process was pure HE!! for me as I thought I was dying. That was the day the body was reacting from the missing tonsils. I reckon my brain had to be reprogrammed that day. Was not a good day! After that day, I could see light at the end of the tunnel! I still cannot eat any solid foods as the throat remains a bit tender but today at my checkup the doctor gave me the A-Okay and released me from his services! I was totally prepared for the pain, had good pain killers, (to include Medicated lollipops) and stayed in bed and did nothing and I credit that for no bleeding and a speedy recovery! The Saint was true to his name as he took really good care of me and did all of my daily tasks to keep the household running smoothly for me an easy return. The only thing he did not do is emails for me. So I have been working at that for a day or so. I should be able to eat solid foods in the next day or so but I am not complaining as I have lost 12 pounds and that is a great start for me to loose more!

    It was funny because on the way to the hospital the dogwoods were just starting to open up. I spend a few days in bed with the blinds closed and when I opened them up, I had beautiful dogwood blossoms to greet me! I think the dogwoods are prettier then ever this year. The Saint even said that to me! Was a beautiful drive to the doctor’s office this morning seeing all the azaleas and dogwoods.…

    Again Thank You so much for your thoughts, prayers and cards! What a great bunch of garden buddies yall are!!!

  7. Here is the scoop on Poke Salet. It taste kinda like spinach but bitter. It has to be rinsed very, very good. Then boiled, rinsed, boiled. Alot of people then put it in a fry pan and scramble it with eggs. I like spinach but I do not like poke salet, but different people have different tast buds.

  8. skeeter!!!!! welcome back!!!!!!!so glad you are feeling better-at least well enough to talk-in a manner of speaking of course!

    you have never had poke salat? can't believe you are from tennessee and live in georgia and haven't had poke salat? jillybean lives in the same state as you and she has eaten it often. i don't like bitter so i am not so sure i would try it. do you like bitter?

    so glad the dogwoods surprised you. what a lovely sight. i too think they are extra beautiful this year (the ones that survived-lol-i lost a few:(

    jillybean, that settles it, it is too much work for me all for bitter. no thanks. thanks for the description. is the computer fixed yet? skeeter is a regular on here and she is lots of fun to talk to.

    skeeter, jillybean ran a contest on her blog "Post-it Place" and i won! a gift card to chili's and we are going out tonight! check her out as she lives in ga too and i think you'd love her blog-she cooks! i know-so many blogs so little time! just ask my mother and sister and everyone else on here.

    do you like the new site? more features and archives are available. i am glad you found it and are feeling better. raining here-again!

  9. Shhh, my computer is in doesn't need fixing. Really, it doesn't. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it...except in Technosavy's mind. See, it is about 5 or 6 years old, and in computer terms that is ancient and he thinks I need a new one, with bells and whistles and that runs faster. I like reliable and comfortable. So we are coming to an agreement. That will be an update on my blog in a few days probably so I won't disclose it here.

    I am so glad to hear that you may be going out tonight! I hope you have tons of fun.

  10. Oh...and about the poke is alot of work for something that I think tastes so bad. Some people also pair it with fatback. Sends shivers down my spine thinking about it. My parents used to make us eat poke salet or turnip greens on halloween night, before we could go out trick-or-treating. The turnips greens I could handle but if it was poke salet year...I stayed home.

  11. SKEETER HI HI HI!!!!! We have been so worried about you. Sorry you had such an ordeal but welcome back. We missed you!!!

    Anonymous glad you got your truck back, just don't run the roads so much you forget all of us waiting to read your cute and cheerful comments on here.

    Dawn all that stuff about the ginseng is pretty interesting. Good luck with the boiler. Since that is Jack of all Trades business
    one would think it will be a top notch switch over.

    The Poke plant is very pretty with great looking berries but this northerner says you can keep it. I don't like spinach and Lola had said it tastes something like spinach.

    Tina we are going out to supper tonight also. But to Hope Tanguay's house (Pam's mother) Us 4 girls that took care of Mary for 6 years are going with our spouses and also Mary's son. It will be a year on the 9th that Mary passed away. The last dinner we had the spouses did not go to and we have included them this time. Pam will also be there as she filled in some for us all and lives right next door to Hope.

  12. Welcome back Skeeter! And yes, yes, yes, you are so right 'bout the no bleeding. As a kid, I didn't want to stay in the hospital bed, I learned pretty quick, sitting up made me quite queasy! Became a believer in moral relaxing.
    Boiler is done, Jack of all trades just came home to seal the smoke pipe back up. It was a breeze, left within 2 hours.
    I don't think I would like poke salat either, might try it if someone cooking it knew what they were doing. Sounds like it would be a daring side dish to soup and sandwich.
    Making myself hungry, and probaly Skeeter too! Must go.

  13. jillybean-you are so funny!

    hi mom and dawn!

    anonymous-of course you had to remember me with a picture of the sidekick! i love the picture and i don't think he will be mad at you when he grows up. the cartoon is going to be a subject tying in with the survey-nice of you to think of me!

    hi lola and nina! again, welcome back skeeter!

  14. WELCOME BACK SKEETER!!!!!We are so glad you are back. So glad you had a good recovery--no bleeding & such. Good that you had such a pretty view to look at when you opened your curtains. Just continue to take it easy & again Welcome Back. You were sorely missed.

    Boy, between making money from ginseng & eating Poke Salet, that should just about keep all of us busy for awhile. It really taste a little like spinach. It's a lot easier to clean than turnip greens.

    Anonymous, I too am glad you got your truck back. No holding you down now---hauling all the goodies to put in your garden. Go Girl.

    Jillybean, sorry you didn't like Poke Salet. Have you tried it since you have grown? They say our taste changes every 7 yrs. I like it but wouldn't want it for a steady diet. Like I said, it is a Spring tonic of sorts. Momma would fix it only once every Spring.

    If anyone wishes to try the Poke Salet just buy a can & try it. Nothing ventured, Nothing gained.

  15. Hi Tina --glad you got the picture and I'm so happy to hear you are going out tonight. Yeah!! With all the work you do--- you need a night out --no cooking:)

    WELCOME BACK SKEETER --wow, I was worried about you. I'm so glad you have a Saint for a hubby --you were really in good care. And, what a beautiful sight to see the dogwoods --I'm so happy they made your day.

    Hi Jean --wowser what a difference having my own wheels makes, rofl. I went grocery shopping and it was FUN -hahaha could tell I hadn't been out in a long time. Of course, Sidekick helped me and filled up the cart with lots of goodies for his brothers and sister. What a nice fella, since he wasn't paying, hahaha.

    I wanted to finish spreading my mulch but it is so wet and soggy. I will probably try as soon as it stops raining regardless of what anyone thinks:) I operate in my own little world --hahaha if I want to do something I'll do it, right??
    I won't try the poke salat --of course I'm the most adventurous in my house but weeds cooked and cooked just don't sound good --maybe drenched in chocolate I could force myself to eat them if there wasn't any other food, lol.

    Hi Dawn, it sounds like your place is coming along really well. I imagine a palace when I think of your house --big long driveway with a huge gate across -
    Howdy Lola, hope you aren't as soggy as us in TN, wowser we are already 8 inches ahead of where we were last year at this time. I know it's good for the plants but the rivers/creeks are overflowing --kind of scary when out driving.
    I better get a move on --my kiddos want to visit the toy store --how could I possibly say no, rofl. Oh, I could but since we been restricted for so long with one vehicle anything sounds good now:)
    Catch you all later --

  16. It's not that bad here yet. I've read about all the flooding. Hope it clears up so the sun can shine & dry you guys out. Too much rain is for the pits.
    I got one of my projects done with Young'uns help. Now to finish the other that is very close. I got an electric brad gun so I can repair some small projects I have. Hopefully tomorrow I can finish another project {if I'm not laid up from today, Pain killer & spray for pain on hip}.

    This rain we've had sure has been a big help on my new roses. Maybe in about 8 weeks I will have some blooms. Can't wait.

  17. lola, i think buying a can of it is the way to go. i will drown mine with vinegar, it works with all greens for us. especially brussel sprouts. lol what small projects do you have to do with a brad gun? be careful! hope you pain alleviates. i bet the rain will help the roses, but it also helps the disease. cedar apple rust is in full bloom-i need to snap a picture and post it just so you all can see HOW nasty it is. i hope it doesn't get on my crabapples.

    anonymous, it is SO wet today! you'll have to get the mulch later. i know i said we needed the rain but enough already. bring on the sun and rev up the red beauty. we had a great time at chili's-good food and service. drenched in chocolate??

  18. Hi Tina --I figure chocolate would mask the taste of it:) Hahhaah!
    Lola, I hope you are feeling refreshed and ready for your projects tomorrow --take a warm bath and some tylenol or motrin tonight so you will sleep better tonight. Glad you had fun tonight Tina --and this is so opposite of last year --way too much rain at one time now --my red beauty will sink if I take it out now, rofl. So soggy and squishy. See you in the morning --get better Skeeter! Hi Jean --enjoy your weekend --

  19. ooh, brad guns, mother of inventions, love it. What kind of projects Lola, same brad gun that takes staples? Soo handy.
    I wish my place was a palace, like the gate idea though, keeps out the customers! :?). Nite. Cleaning weekend tom, must move washer and dryer.

  20. Welcome back Skeeter! I'm glad you are feeling better. I didn't know you were having surgery I'm happy it went well!

  21. Thanks Dave. We are a bit more personal here at "In the Garden" then your Blog so I did not mention my surgery there but figured you would see it here. I hope to get caught up with your Blog today....

  22. Dawn, Yeh the brad gun also uses staples. I have some lattice that needs mending. Now I can do it. Cheaper than buying new. Besides this is already weather worn with that aged patina.