Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Poke, Poisonous Poke

In his latest post, Thunder has a great picture of a northern mockingbird (Mimus dorsalis) perched on a pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) bush. Pokeweed is an interesting plant, it is toxic to mammals, but nevertheless, it is commonly eaten in certain parts of the country. This just goes to show you the ends to which poor people will go in order to survive. I'm an avid forager, but I tend to leave pokeweed alone. That being said, even the humble red kidney (Phaseolus vulgaris) bean contains dangerous toxins which must be destroyed by cooking... always boil your beans, folks, don't just throw them in a slow-cooker. Some of my favorite wild food plants (I'm looking at YOU, wood sorrel) contain oxalic acid and should be eaten sparingly. One of these days, I just might overcome my poke hesitancy, but I'll be sure to keep in mind the adage 'the dose makes the poison' if I do so.

In the meantime, I've gone over the archives and noticed a glaring omission... the only time I've ever mentioned the great song 'Polk Salad Annie', by Tony Joe White, was in a post about the late, great Dr Nazar Sayegh, who was a family practitioner by day and an Elvis impersonator by night. The last time I saw the good doctor alive, he performed a version of the song. The song has been performed by Elvis Presley:





Tony Joe White has performed it with Johnny Cash:





And with the Foo Fighters:





I prefer the original, with it's sparer arrangement:





I love the blackly comic nature of the song, especially the bit about Annie's "wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin' woman" of a mother. Now, that's the kind of individual who could thrive on a poisonous weed!

EDIT: Finally fixed those embeds... maybe I shouldn't smoke pokeweed before posting!

7 comments:

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Man, I seem to have muffed those embeds... I'll have to do some serious editing later today...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Plant toxins from Phytolacca are being explored as a means to control zebra mussels.

/ learn something new every day!
~

Robert Mcneilly said...

i eat poke
pick it young
scrape off skin
boil
tastes really good
haven't died yet

Robert Mcneilly said...

letters written with poke berry juice survive from the civil war

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

/ learn something new every day!

That is interesting.


i eat poke
pick it young
scrape off skin
boil
tastes really good
haven't died yet


You sold me on poke, Robert. I think I'll have to try it next spring... or maybe just cut back older plants. Thanks for giving me the impetus to try it.

letters written with poke berry juice survive from the civil war

Oh, yeah, I remember reading that I even found a recipe for fermented pokeberry ink.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I'm too lazy to risk it with pokeberries.
~

chrome agnomen said...

late to this, but sheee-it, ain't nothin' better'n poke salad in the spring.

/redneck