Pokeroot (Phytolacca americana)
Pokeweed is a perennial plant native to North America and other parts of the world. In the U.S., it is found in damp soils and along edges of woods.
The large, fleshy root is covered with a thin, brown bark. It produces stems that are green when young and purplish later, reaching a
height of 4 to 12 feet, a diameter of 1 inch. The alternate, simple, entire leaves are oblong. Numerous small white or greenish-white flowers grow during July and August, followed by clusters of round, purple berries which contain a crimson juice.
Family: Phytolaccaceae (Pokeweed family)
Other Names: Coakum, Inkberry, Pidgeonberry, Poke, Pokeroot, Redweed, Scoke, Poleweed root
Flowers: July – August
Parts Used: Roots
Habitat: Open woods, damp thickets, clearings, roadsides. Ontario to southern Quebec, New England, and New York; South to Florida; West to Texas and Mexico; North to Minnesota.
Constituents: Triterpenoid, saponins, phytolaccine, resins, phytolaccic acid, tannin.
Properties: Anodyne, Cathartic
Main Uses: Tonsillitis, swollen glands, mastitis, constipation, pain reliever, rheumatism, inflammation, and arthritis.
Pokeroot has a considerable reputation for stimulating the lymphatic system. Herbalists use it for tonsillitis, swollen glands and mumps. It is also used in rheumatism because it stimulates elimination from the tissues. As a poultice it is used to treat mastitis.
Note: The sprouts of the young plants are sometimes eaten as pot-herbs after being boiled in two changes of water.
CAUTION: The fresh plant or insufficiently cooked plant is poisonous. The seeds in the berries are also poisonous and are particularly hazardous for children.
Preparation And Dosages:
Tincture: Fresh (1:2), 50% alcohol, 2 to 10 drops up to 3 times a day.
Dry (1:5), 50% alcohol, 5 to 15 drops up to 3 times a day.