Q: The Yankees in our Sunday School class at First Baptist Church of Buford are not familiar with the Southern plant known as poke salad. Do you know the correct spelling and if there is a scientific name for it?
A: Yankees!? In Georgia!? My heavens, next we’ll have Republicans!! Poke salad (also called poke sallet, pokeberry and pokeweed) is an absolutely and truly Southern plant. Pokeweed is Phytolacca americana. The broad green leaves and violet stem are vaguely tropical looking. The purple berries make excellent food for every bird in the neighborhood and keep car wash emporiums humming each autumn.
You probably know that the leaves can be harvested and cooked when young. The book “Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread, & Scuppernong Wine” by Joe Dabney gives culinary instructions. Bring the class to your home and introduce them to the finer points of Southern cuisine! (Read the article below before you issue invites though.)
Pokeweed can be controlled either by digging out the root or by spraying with glyphosate (click for sources).
See also: Why You Shouldn’t Eat Poke Sallet