Poke – Phytolacca americana


Toxic plant!

This is a very powerful herb from North America indigenous healers and modern herbalists used pokeweed for serious illnesses like AIDS, arthritis or cancer. However, this plant must be used with great caution and always should be taken under supervision of a trained practicioner.

In spring, the very young shoots are eaten, but once again, proceed with caution. It is advised to boil them in at least two changes of water, and before any red shows in the stems. This poke sallet, which is not a sallet but a vegetable is reportedly very delicious. But others warn that traces of toxins still remain, even after boiling in several changes of water.

The red berries can be used for a dye.

In the garden:

Easy to grow plant, suceeds in most soils, prefers moisture, full sun to partial shade. Perennial growing to 2m. Common names: Poke Root, Pokeweed, American nightshade, pigeon berry, chui xu shang lu.

The picture shows echinacea and poke planted together in my garden.

Latin name: Phytolacca americana, Syn. Phytolacca decandra

Zones: 4-8


How did this poisonous plant…

Herbal adventures

Poke: Prime Potherb


Alternative Natural Online Herbal

Poke Root

Natural dye

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Height + Width:

Frost Hardiness: Hardy in Katoomba




Country of Origin: Eastern Cape of South Africa


Common names: African Dream Root, Undlela Ziimhlophe (White Ways/Paths), Ubulawu



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