Species Detail

Phytolacca americana L.

Scientific Name:  
Phytolacca americana L.
Common Name:  
Myaamia Name:  
Food, Medicinal, Technology
Harvest Seasons:  
Summer, Spring
Geboe Property, Liebert Property, Grant Property
Growth Forms:  
Herb, Vine

Myaamia Archival Sources  
Phytolacca americana L.
Reference Source Reference Type Archival Data Comments
Dunn, J.P. Circa 1900 Use - Food  shoots eaten as greens.
Dunn, J.P. Circa 1900 Use - Medicinal  berries soaked in whiskey used to treat rheumatism; and pulverized root used as a poultice.
Dunn, J.P. Circa 1900 Use - Technology  berries used for paint.
Rafert, S. 1978, August 10 Use - Food  eaten as greens.
Rafert, S. 1989, August 24-25 Use - Food  eaten as greens;
Dunn, J.P. 1919 Use - Food  eaten as greens.
McCord, P. (Geboe) 2004, June 5 Use - Food  Mable Olds Leonard picked poke and wild onions to cook with
Tyner, J.W. 1968, September 9 Use - Food  shoots gathered and eaten.
English, P. 2004, June 2 Use - Food  young leaves gathered and cooked as greens.
No Reference Specified Use - Food  eaten as greens
Olds, Julie, Olds, Dustin and Dani Tippman 1999 Use - Food  greens gathered
Report made by the Peoria, Eastern Shawnee, Wyandotte, Seneca-Cayuga, Miami and Ottawa Tribes. 2003, September 2 Use - Food 
Gatschet, A.S. ca. 1895 Use - Unknown  young shoots eaten; mature berries used as temporary; nonwashable; paint; dried berries used to deworm dogs
Tippman, M. 2005, February 27 Use - Food/Medicinal/Technolog 
Rafert, S. 1989, August 24-25 Horticultural Info  Barbara Mullin and her mother; Julia Gamble Lankford would go out in late March and early April with brown bags and fill them with poke they found in uncultivated areas.
N/A 1998-2006 Horticultural Info  Pokeweed greens were eaten by Lamoine Marks. Prepared almost identical to asparagus or milkweed and tasted like them. Mostly just used the stem. Only the very smallest of the leaves would be used. Considered a tonic like all greens; Lamoine says; a spring tonic that could be a purgative
Botanical Sources  
Phytolacca americana L.
Reference Source Notes Data Comments
Gleason, H.A. & Cronquist, A. 1991   Occurs in fields; fencerows and damp woods
Related Sources  
Phytolacca americana L.
Reference Source Notes Data Comments
Bush, L. L 1996   Dunn documented Gabriel Godfroy saying that poke; mushrooms or wild lettuce wre not used by the Miami until the whites taught them how to use them. Dunn comments that
Dunn, J.P. Circa 1900   The leaves of this plant are safe to eat if you boil and decant three times to remove the saponins. The spinach-like result is a good side dish, but don’t eat a lot of it per helping—about 5 tablespoonsful. Eat too much, and you could get mild diarrhea. I used to eat the young roots boiled with no effect, but some years later things seemed to go “gray.” Maybe I didn’t realize that I ought to decant three times or maybe I did but it was not enough. I eat only the leaves now. The word “poke” in pokeweed is from Virginian Algonquian pak ‘blood’ (from its dye), like Nanticoke pakahk ‘blood’ (Proto-Eastern Algonquian *pakaxkanwi ‘blood, red dye’, F. Siebert 1975).
Rafert, S. 1989, August 24-25   Barabara Mulllins recipe for poke
N/A 1998-2006   Daryl Baldwin found a reference to use of Phytolacca decandrea; older nomeclature for Phytolacca americana; which used to be cooked on the fireplace
Baldwin, D 2003-2005   Due to lead; cadmium and zinc contamination in the Tar Creek Superfund Sites watershed; around Miami; Oklahoma and the Miami Tribe of Oklahomas headquarters; Miami and other local tribal members worry that traditional gathering of food; medicine and CUSTOMS items may be contaminated. Fish; wild blackberries; sassafras; pokeweed; basket-making supplies and wild onions could have high concentrations of lead; as do the waters of nearby lakes; and it is not always successful keeping tribal members out of these areas. The Seneca-Cayugas berry dance could not be held; if all the wild blackberries and strawberries in the area are found to be contaminated
No Reference Specified   Human-charred pokeweed material was recoverd from an early 19th century Miami village site at the forks of the Wabash River (Ft Wayne), 1795-1812 (Ehler Site).