On Monday I wrote:
Here's an easy one, at least the first half of the mystery.
Saw this along Franklin Turnpike near the Celery Farm. What is it?
What birds go crazy for it?
Why was it important back in the day?
Diane Louie answered correctly and concisely:
"Pokeweed. Songbirds like Mockingbird, Catbird and Cardinal like the berries, but all parts of the mature plant are poisonous to humans. If carefully cooked, the plant can be eaten. The berries were used to make dye and ink." (Thanks, Diane!)
Incidentally, I had heard a couple of times that pokeweed ink was used for the Declaration on Independence.
Not so, says the Brooklyn Botanical Garden:
"Native to the East Coast, pokeweed is one of the few urban weedy plants that was not brought here from Europe or Asia. The name “poke” most likely comes from the Algonquian word pokan, meaning bloody.
"The dark magenta juice from the berries has proven to be an effective writing ink as well as fabric dye. Some sources claim that pokeweed ink was used to write for the Declaration of Independence, but according to the National Archives, it was actually written with iron gall ink."
A recipe for pokeweed ink is here: