A poisonous perennial herb used as a supplement, pokeweed typically grows wild and is a favourite food of birds. Pokeweed grows up to 10 feet high and features a purplish stem and dark purplish-red berries. Every part of the pokeweed is poisonous and can be fatal if consumed. However, when prepared properly, pokeweed is used to treat a variety of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Even though pokeweed is typically a wild plant, you can harvest the seeds and grow the plant yourself.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Paper towels
- Sulphuric acid
- Seed-starting containers
- Potting soil
Locate a pokeweed plant and pull several berries off the plant gently.
Find a container large enough to hold the berries, and fill it with water. Pour the berries inside the container and crush them with your hands to reveal the seeds. Let the seeds soak for two to three days.
Remove the seeds that have settled to the bottom of the container. These seeds have a higher rate of germinating than seeds that float on the water.
Lay several paper towels on a flat surface, in a cool and dry location. Spread the seeds in a single layer on the paper towels. Let the seeds dry completely for 24 to 48 hours.
Fill a container with sulphuric acid. Pour the seeds gently into the acid and let them soak for five minutes. The sulphuric acid breaks the seeds' dormancy and starts germination.
Remove the seeds from the sulphuric acid and rinse them under cool running water for several minutes. Place the seeds on top of paper towels in a single layer to air dry.
Fill seed-starting containers two-thirds full with damp potting mix, then tap the bottom of the containers gently. After the potting mix is settled, place the seeds in the containers and cover them lightly with the potting mix.
Place the seed-starting containers on a flat surface that receives full sun to partial shade. Water the seeds when the soil feels dry. Add just enough water to dampen the soil.
Transplant the germinated seeds outside after the last frost. Plant them 3 feet apart in a hole big enough to hold the root ball. Cover the roots and one-third of the stem with soil.
Tips and warnings
- Wear rubber gloves when handling the berries to prevent the berries' juice from staining your skin.
- Do not consume any part of the pokeweed.
- Wear rubber gloves and safety goggles when handling sulphuric acid.
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