American pokeweed Facts

American pokeweed Facts
American pokeweed is herbaceous plant that belongs to the pokeweed family. It originates from North America. American pokeweed grows in the wastelands, near the roads and old fields, on moderately moist soil, exposed to direct sun or in the partial shade. American pokeweed easily occupies new areas and prevents growth of native plant species (it is classified as invasive in some areas). People cultivate American pokeweed in ornamental purposes and use it as a source of food, medicine and dyes.
Interesting American pokeweed Facts:
American pokeweed has erect, smooth, green or purplish-colored stem with numerous branches. It can reach 4 to 6 feet in height (up to 10 feet under the optimal conditions).
American pokeweed has large taproot that is beige on the surface and white-colored in the middle. Taproot grows deep into the ground and spreads horizontally to ensure support and stability for the multi-branched, tall stem.
American pokeweed has simple, elliptic leaves with smooth margins. Leaves are large (up to 16 inches in length), green and have coarse texture. They are alternately arranged on the branches.
American pokeweed develops small, greenish-white flowers arranged in pyramid-shaped clusters (raceme). Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (bisexual).
American pokeweed blooms from summer to early autumn and attracts insects responsible for the pollination.
Fruit of American pokeweed are purple-black, flattened berries gathered in drooping clusters on pinkish-red peduncles (fruit-bearing stems).
Berries of American pokeweed are important source of food for the various types of songbirds. They eliminate undigested seed via feces and facilitate dispersal of seed.
Root, seed, mature stem and leaves of American pokeweed contain alkaloids, resins, saponins and lectins that are poisonous for humans and livestock (all parts of the plant that are tinged with red should be avoided).
Young shoots and leaves of American pokeweed (harvested in the spring) can be boiled and consumed as leafy vegetables. Canned leaves of American pokeweed were available under trade name "poke sallet greens" in the past.
American pokeweed is good source of proteins, vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3 and B6 and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron.
Berries of American pokeweed were used for the preparation of pies and jellies in the past. Raw berries are toxic. They have to be exposed to high temperatures (properly cooked) to ensure destruction of all harmful compounds.
Juice obtained from the berries of American pokeweed was used to intensify the color of pale-colored varieties of wines.
Juice from the berries of American pokeweed was used as red ink and dye in the past. That's how American pokeweed earned a nickname inkberry.
Native Americans used American pokeweed as laxative, to induce vomiting (and cleansing of the body) and to treat cancer and itch.
American pokeweed is perennial plant (lifespan: over 2 years).

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