Description: This plant may grow as high as 3 meters (9 feet). Its leaves are elliptic and up to 1 meter (3 feet) in length. It produces many large clusters of purple fruits in late spring.
Habitat and Distribution: Look for this plant in open, sunny areas in forest clearings, in fields, and along roadsides in eastern North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Edible Parts: The young leaves and stems are edible cooked. Boil them twice, discarding the water from the first boiling. The berries are considered poisonous, even if cooked.
All parts of this plant are poisonous if eaten raw. Never eat the underground portions of the plant as these contain the highest concentrations of the poisons. Do not eat any plant over 25 centimeters (10 inches) tall or when red is showing in the plant.
Other Uses: Use the juice of fresh berries as a dye.
All text and images from the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.70: Survival.
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