Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Guiding communities and regions toward vibrant and sustainable futures.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not promote, support
or recommend plants featured in "Plant of the Week." Please consult your local Extension
office for plants suitable for your region.
In April 2000, a rural tradition slipped quietly into the past with few noticing and
still fewer caring. Allen Canning Company of Siloam Springs canned its last batch
of poke sallet greens. From now on you will have to gather your own if the craving
for poke greens overtakes you as the brown beans simmer in the pot.
Pokeberry or pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, is a ubiquitous weed from Maine to Miami to Mexico, so not surprising our forefathers
found a use for it, in fact several uses. It is a stout herbaceous perennial that,
in good soil, can form a thigh-size taproot. The taproot is poisonous and there are
reports of careless gardeners mistaking poke roots for horseradish roots with dire
consequences. Native Americans used poke roots as a laxative and an emetic.
From the crown of the plant emerge leafy, asparagus-like shoots that are edible during
the first days of spring. If these smooth, purple-tinged shoots are allowed to grow
they can reach six to 10-feet tall with a comparable spread.
By midsummer, plants begin producing six-inch long racemes of greenish white apetalous
flowers. The flowers give rise to juicy, pea-size berries that transition from green
to pink to dark purple. Flowering continues until frost with plants having flowers
and berries at the same time. The berries are a favorite food for berry-eating songbirds.
Poke gets its name from an Indian word "pokan" which means any plant used to produce a red or yellow dye. It even has a political
connection. Leaves of pokeberry were worn on the lapels of supporters of the first
dark-horse candidate for president, James Polk who served from 1845 to 1849 and for
whom Polk County is named.
Pokeweed enjoyed a good reputation across the south as a spring green because it was
one of the first edible herbs to appear, giving a much-needed break from the beans,
cornbread and salt pork diet of winter. As Arkansas hill folk gave up the land during
the Depression and moved away, they took with them the taste for pokeweed.
Arkansas processors have canned poke commercially since at least the middle years
of the last century. It has always been wild-harvested even though Dr. John Bowers,
a former colleague in the horticulture department, made efforts in the 1950’s to turn
pokeweed into a legitimate vegetable. As late as 1990 at least two processing plants
continued the tradition, Bush Brothers of Tennessee and Allen of Siloam Springs.
Surprisingly, one of the best markets for canned poke sallet was California. Delbert
Allen speculated in a 1989 article that the California market is an echo from past
Dust Bowl and Depression era emigrants attempting to reconnect with their roots. But,
times change. People get old and die.
John Williams, the canning supervisor at Allen Canning, says "The decision to stop
processing poke was primarily because of the difficulty of finding people interested
in picking poke and bring it to our buying locations." Also, poke processing was never
a significant item in their multimillion-dollar enterprise, so it just became more
bother than it was worth.
Poke is primarily eaten in the same way as other spring greens, but some peel and
fry the stalks much as done with okra pods. A good poke green recipe calls for a large
batch of green leaves to be parboiled for three minutes then drained, parboiled a
second time and then drained again and cooked until tender. Fry three strips of bacon,
a chopped green onion and then add the drained greens. Get this hot and then add four
eggs for scrambling.
The leaves are collected early in the spring and they are cooked and the liquor poured
off of the leaves. This process in repeated three times at least. This will remove
most of the toxin although the salad (sallet in Arkansas) was considered a spring
tonic to clean out all the bad stuff accumulated in the body over the winter even
after the processing. No one should ever eat the berries or unprocessed leaves. The leaves must be processed before cooking and the leaves must be collected only early in the year
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists
of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery
or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing