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Perennial herb that sends up a woody, much branched stalk 4-9 ft. The smooth bark is bright red to purple. Simple, alternate leaves that are broadly lanceolate with entire margins. Small white fliwers appear in large raceme from summer to fall. Drooping berry clusters form in late summer and fall.
This one is growing in full sun in a dry area.
Useful but dangerous. Poke has been used both medicinally and as a pot herb. Young shoots and leafy tips are edible if boiled in at least two changes of water, but great care must be taken in proper preparation, for the raw plant and berries, and especially the roots, contain toxins that can be deadly poison. American Indians and early settlers used poke decoctions for a variety of illnesses. In pioneer days the purple berries were used for ink, so it came to be known as Inkweed. The berries also make a good dye. Recent research indicates a number of potentially valuable uses for poke in modern medicine.