University of Maryland Extension

Indian Poke

Author: 
Carolyn Puckett

 USDA Plant Database

What is “Indian poke”?

Indian Poke

If you are wandering near to wet areas in the spring, you may chance upon a native perennial that looks vaguely familiar. Not terribly well known, Veratrum viride, with common names Indian poke, false hellebore or corn lily, is conspicuous in the spring but withers away when hot weather arrives. It can be identified by the heavily ribbed or pleated leaves. The stemless leaves are 6 to 12 inches long, ovate with a sharp point, and are arranged spirally on the stalks. The underside of the leaf is hairy. The central flower stalk, sporting racemes of yellowish green flowers, can shoot up to six feet high.

All parts of the plant are poisonous and can be toxic if eaten in volume. However, the burning in your mouth would probably warn you not to munch!

Loughmiller, Campbell and Lynn

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