Or a Redbud tree showing off!
But if you venture a little farther into the woods, you will find even more treasures!
Anti-AIDS drug? In recent times, poke has been found helpful in the treatment of diseases related to a compromised immune system. Even more amazing, new research has revealed that it contains a possible cure for Pediatric Leukemia. The Pokeweed Antiviral Protein, properly administered, kills leukemia cells! In one study, 15 out of 18 participating children attained remission. Studies continue.
Poke comes from the Algonquian Indian word "pakon" or "puccoon," referring to a dye plant used for staining.
Poke is sometimes spelled polk. The leaves were reportedly worn by enthusiastic supporters during the campaign of James K. Polk, 11th president of the United States.
Poke contains vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and phosphorus.
Poke contains steroids that resemble cortisone, making it a helpful treatment for skin conditions like psoriases, acne, and fungal infections.
The song Polk Salad Annie by Tony Joe White was later covered by Elvis Presley.
During the War Between the States, soldiers fashioned quills from feathers and used ripe pokeberry juice for ink. Some of these letters can be found in museums today, as legible as they were on the day Sherman burned Atlanta.
I'm including a recipe for Poke Salat (Salad), a springtime dish served in the Ozarks. My parents knew just where the plants grew on the farm and would gather up a "mess" to have with fried fish. There are warnings to take into account if you are going to cook the greens fresh. Consumed raw, poke salad will make you sick as a dog. The stuff that makes you sick is concentrated in the root, stems, and the veins of larger leaves. Mom would only pick the small leaves from a plant no more than knee high. So how does it taste? Some people compare it to asparagus. It's more like spinach I think, but it's a "acquired taste"
Traditional Southern Recipe
· Begin with a “mess” of poke salad: enough leaves to fill a plastic grocery bag.
· Wash and rinse the leaves.
· Add to cook pot and bring to boil. As soon as it’s boiling, drain and refill with water. Do this two more times.
· After boiling and draining three times, squeeze out the excess water.
· Add bacon grease to a skillet on medium heat. Saute in pan just to heat through.
· Salt to taste.
· Optional: cook with a half cup of chopped onions and bacon or country ham.