Pokeweed, September aspect

Pokeweed—color of war (Phytolacca americana). Pokeweed is a beautiful and common
native of Northeast America. The deep purple berries (poisonous) slowly descend on
their red stalk as they mature during the latter months of summer, changing from horizontal
to vertical (as shown above). During the 19th century, Pokeberry juice was collected
and used as both a dye and writing ink. Civil war soldiers are said to haver written their
letters home using a quill pen with the striking color of pokeberry ink. Walt Whitman,
who towards the end of the war served as a nurse and helped wounded soldiers
of both sides of the conflict compose their letters, must surely have been familiar
with this plant and the ink made from it. Something to ponder on paths and trails as
late summer gives way to the chill of fall.

(Photograph made during the second week of September, 1999.
Can be found along paths and sandy waste places)

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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2001 picture-poems.com