- A large, smooth, branching herb from a large, perennial
rootstock, and with green, red, or purple stems; leaves alternate and simple;
flowers white, on a long stem, more or less erect; fruit a dark purple
berry composed of 5-12 segments fused in a ring, the stem drooping. P.
rigida differs by having shorter, erect fruiting stems.
- USA, NC.
- Throughout, P. rigida is found only along the
- Forest or natural areas, weedy in disturbed areas, in
fields, fence rows, low grounds, clearings, waste places, roadsides.
- All parts, mainly the roots; shoots, leaves, and berries
when fresh and in quantity.
- Burning of mouth and throat, salivation, severe stomach
irritation, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, spasms, convulsions; can be fatal.
- EDIBLE PARTS: Young tender leaves eaten only as thoroughly
cooked greens (in two waters). Cooked berries are safe for making pies.
CAUTION: Berries, roots and mature plants are poisonous, therefore, only
use as new, young growth. Also any red-tinged plant material should be
discarded. To avoid possibly collecting part of the toxic root, do not
cut below ground level. HARVEST: Only collect young shoots from areas you
know have NOT been treated with pesticides. Collect in early spring. SAFE
HANDLING PROCEDURES: Wash young shoots thoroughly with warm water. Do not
use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. These products can leave a
residue. Peel and parboil tender young shoots (less than eight inches)
in two changes of water several minutes each. Boil in a third water until
tender and serve like asparagus. Young stalks less than one foot tall,
with leaves removed, and before red tinged, can be cut and rolled in corn
meal and fried like okra. They can also be pickled. Young leaves taken
from stalks less than one foot tall can be parboiled in two changes of
water for several minutes each and boiled in a third water until tender.
To freeze, parboil leaves twice, cook, pat dry and place them in plastic
bags. SOURCE: Larson, Ken. 1995. God's Free Harvest, Rhema Publishing,
Inc., Suwanee, GA. 231 pp.
- Phytolaccatoxin and related triterpene saponins, an alkaloid
(phytolaccin), and histamines.
- HIGHLY TOXIC, MAY BE FATAL IF EATEN!