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Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore also has a glossary of medical terms in his books, and maps in later editions. ) 
#154
Common Name: Pokeweed, Poke Salad, American Pokeweed, Poke Berry
Latin Name:
Phytolacca americana
Family: :Phytolaccaceae
Range:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=pham4
All states east of the Mississippi R. and along the west bank, plus Nebraska south to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Washington and Oregon; In Canada; Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.
Photos: Here
Appearance and Habitat: A tall, large leaved, branching plant with reddish stems and long clusters of white flowers. This is frequently a troublesome weed with poisonous berries and roots, although emerging shoots can be gathered before the pink color appears, cooked, and eaten as greens. The berry juice was used as a dye by the early colonists and to improve cheap wine.(1)    Plants to 3(-7) m. Leaves: petiole 1-6 cm; blade lanceolate to ovate, to 35 × 18 cm, base rounded to cordate, apex acuminate. Racemes open, proximalmost pedicels sometimes bearing 2-few flowers, erect to drooping, 6-30 cm; peduncle to 15 cm; pedicel 3-13 mm. Flowers: sepals 5, white or greenish white to pinkish or purplish, ovate to suborbiculate, equal to subequal, 2.5-3.3 mm; stamens (9-)10(-12) in 1 whorl; carpels 6-12, connate at least in proximal 1/2; ovary 6-12-loculed. Berries purple-black, 6-11 mm diam. Seeds black, lenticular, 3 mm, shiny. Varieties 2 (2 in the flora): North America; introduced in Europe. The infraspecific taxonomy of Phytolacca americana has been disputed since J. K. Small (1905) recognized P. rigida as distinct from P. americana on the basis of its “permanently erect panicles” [sic] and “pedicels…much shorter than the diameter of the berries.” J. W. Hardin (1964b) separated P. rigida from P. americana by the length of the raceme (2-12 cm in P. rigida, 5-30 cm in P. americana) and the thickness and diameter of the xylem center of the peduncle (70% greater thickness in P. rigida, 17% greater diameter in P. americana), but he found no discontinuities in any feature. J. W. Nowicke (1968) and J. D. Sauer (1952), among others, treated P. rigida as a synonym of P. americana. Most recently, D. B. Caulkins and R. Wyatt (1990) recognized P. rigida as a variety of P. americana. The varieties are not always clearly distinct. Some specimens combine the erect inflorescences of var. rigida with the long pedicels of var. americana. Such intermediate plants can be seen as far north as coastal Delaware, sometimes growing with var. americana. Collectors of Phytolacca americana should record carefully whether the inflorescences are erect, drooping, or intermediate between the extremes. The fruits and seeds of Phytolacca americana are eaten and disseminated by birds and, probably, mammals. They are said to be an important source of food for mourning doves (A. C. Martin et al. 1951). Phytolacca americana is well known to herbalists, cell biologists, and toxicologists. According to some accounts, its young leaves, after being boiled in two waters (the first being discarded) to deactivate toxins, are edible, even being available canned (they pose no culinary threat to spinach). Young shoots are eaten as a substitute for asparagus. Ripe berries were used to color wine and are eaten (cooked) in pies. Poke is used as an emetic, a purgative, a suppurative, a spring tonic, and a treatment for various skin maladies, especially hemorrhoids. Pokeweed mitogen is a mixture of glycoprotein lectins that are powerful immune stimulants, promoting T- and B-lymphocyte proliferation and increased immun-oglobulin levels. “Accidental exposure to juices from Phytolacca americana via ingestion, breaks in the skin, and the conjunctiva has brought about hematological changes in numerous people, including researchers studying this species” (G. K. Rogers 1985). Poke antiviral proteins are of great interest for their broad, potent antiviral (including Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and antifungal properties (P. Wang et al. 1998). Saponins found in P. americana and P. dodecandra are lethal to the molluscan intermediate host of schistosomiasis (J. M. Pezzuto et al. 1984). The toxic compounds in P. americana are phytolaccatoxin and related triterpene saponins, the alkaloid phytolaccin, various histamines, and oxalic acid. When ingested, the roots, leaves, and fruits may poison animals, including Homo sapiens. Symptoms of poke poisoning include sweating, burning of the mouth and throat, severe gastritis, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, blurred vision, elevated white-blood-cell counts, unconsciousness, and, rarely, death. “Poke” is thought to come from “pocan” or “puccoon,” probably from the Algonquin term for a plant that contains dye.(2)  Damp rich soils in clearings, woodland margins and roadsides. Disturbed areas, pastures, clearings thickets, woodland borders and roadsides from sea level to 1400 meters n Northern and Central N. America. Occasionally naturalzed in Britain. A perennial growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to November.(3)
Warnings: The leaves are poisonous. They are said to be safe to eat when young, and the toxins developing as the plants grow older. Another report says the seed and root are poisonious. The plant sap can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. The plant contains substances that cause cell division and can damage chromosomes. These substances can be aborbed through any abasions in the skin, potentially causing serious blood aberratins, and so it is strongly recommended that people wear gloves when handling the plant. Avoid during pregnancy. Even children that consume even one berry emergency poison treatment should be instituted. Up to ten berries are considered harmless for adults.(4)
Edible Uses:Leaves – they must be cooked and even then it is best to change the water once. They are used like spinach. Only the young leaves should be used since they become toxic with age. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young shoots – cooked. An asparagus substitute, they are delicious. The shoots are sometimes blanched before using, or forced in cellars to provide an early crop. The tender clear inner portion of the stem can be rolled in cornmeal and fried. Although cultivated on a small scale in N. America for its shoots, caution is advised, see notes above. A nutritional analysis is available. Fruit – cooked and used in pies. Poisonous raw, causing vomiting and diarrhoea. Even the cooked fruits should be viewed with caution. The fruit is a berry about 12mm in diameter. A red dye is obtained from the fruit and used as a food colouring.(5)
Medicinal Uses :Pokeweed has a long history of medicinal use, being employed traditionally in the treatment of diseases related to a compromised immune system. The plant has an interesting chemistry and it is currently (1995) being investigated as a potential anti-AIDS drug. It contains potent anti-inflammatory agents, antiviral proteins and substances that affect cell division. These compounds are toxic to many disease-causing organisms, including the water snails that cause schistosomiasis. All parts of the plant are toxic, an excess causing diarrhoea and vomiting. This remedy should be used with caution and preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. The root is alterative, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, cathartic, expectorant, hypnotic, narcotic and purgative. The dried root is used as an anodyne and anti-inflammatory. The root is taken internally in the treatment of auto-immune diseases (especially rheumatoid arthritis), tonsillitis, mumps, glandular fever and other complaints involving swollen glands, chronic catarrh, bronchitis etc. The fresh root is used as a poultice on bruises, rheumatic pains etc, whilst a wash made from the roots is applied to swellings and sprains. The root is best harvested in the autumn and can be dried for later use. The fruit has a similar but milder action to the roots.The juice is used in the treatment of cancer, haemorrhoids and tremors. A poultice made from the fruit is applied to sore breasts. A tea made from the fruit is used in the treatment of rheumatism, dysentery etc. The plant has an unusually high potassium content and the ashes, which contain over 45% caustic potash, have been used as a salve for ulcers and cancerous growths. The leaves are cathartic, emetic and expectorant. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root. Its main action is on the throat, breast, muscular tissues and the joints.(6)
Foot Notes: (1)http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=PHAM4
Foot Notes: (2)http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=220010427
Foot Notes: ( 3, 4, 5, 6 )http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Phytolacca+americana
Other Links: http://www.all4naturalhealth.com/herbs-for-cancer.html  http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail407.php********************************************
#155
Common Name: Ground Ivy, Alehoof, Creeping Charlie, Cat’s Foot,
Latin Name:
Glechoma hederacea
Family: Lamiaceae
Range:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=glhe2
All States except Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Hawaii; In Canada; All Provinces except Nunavut, Northwest Territory and Yukon.

Photos: Here
Appearance and Habitat: General: Fibrous-rooted perennial herb with slender stolons, the stem lax, 1-4 dm. tall, scabrous to nearly glabrous, with long, soft hairs at the nodes.  Leaves opposite, cauline, all alike, petiolate, the blades glabrous or stiff-hairy, rotund-cordate to cordate-reniform, with rounded teeth, 1-3 cm. long. Flowers in few-flowered verticels in the leaf axils, with short pedicels; calyx oblique at the mouth, narrow, 5-6 mm. long, 5-toothed, the upper teeth longer; corolla blue-violet with purple spots, 13-23 mm. long, two-lipped, the upper lip 2-lobed, the lower lip spreading with the central lobe much larger than the lateral lobes; stamens 4, the upper pair longer, ascending under the upper lip; style slender, 2-parted; ovary superior, 2-celled. Introduced from Eurasia, blooms April through June. Habitat: Moist woods and thickets, disturbed ground.(1)  Damp waste ground, hedgerows and woodland margins. Most of Europe, including Britain, northern and western Asia to Japan. A perennial growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Mar to May.(2)
Warnings: A report in the medicinal uses says the plant should be used with caution, no reason is given. Another report says that the plant maybe toxic to horses. Avoid if pregnant as abortifacient. Contraindicated in epilepsy. Avoid if kidney disease.(3)
Edible Uses:Young leaves – raw or cooked. The leaves have a bitter flavour, they can be mixed into salads to add a slight aromatic tang. They can also be cooked like spinach, added to soups etc or used as a flavouring. Available very early in the year. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. It is often used mixed with verbena leaves. The herb has been added to beer in much the same way as hops in order to clear it and also to improve its flavour and keeping qualities. This species was the most common flavouring in beer prior to the use of hops from the 16th century onwards.(4)
Medicinal Uses :Ground ivy is a safe and effective herb that is used to treat many problems involving the mucous membranes of the ear, nose, throat and digestive system. A well-tolerated treatment it can be given to children to clear lingering catarrh and to treat chronic conditions such as glue ear and sinusitis. Throat and chest problems, especially those due to excess catarrh, also benefit from this remedy. The leaves and flowering stems are anodyne, antiphlogistic, appetizer, astringent, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, pectoral, gently stimulant, tonic and vermifuge. They are best harvested in May whilst still fresh, and are dried for later use. The leaves are used in the treatment of hypersensitivity in children and are useful in the treatment of kidney diseases and indigestion. Applied externally, the expressed juice speeds the healing of bruises and black eyes.(5)
Foot Notes: (1) http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=Glechoma&Species=hederacea
Foot Notes: (2, 3, 4, 5 ) http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Glechoma+hederacea

Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
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