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Article: Herbs of the Arkansas Ozarks: Traditional Herbal Medicine: Polk

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Forum: Article: Herbs of the Arkansas Ozarks: Traditional Herbal MedicineReplies: 12, Views: 42
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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

August 5, 2010
7:53 PM

Post #8021567

Growing up I ate polk every spring.

The best meal I ever had was a dinner of fried up polk and some cornbread.
Dinner: A meal in the middle of the day - around noon, not some big meal in the evening - that is called supper.

My grandparents owned a very large egg production farm. We supplied eggs to half of South Eastern Kentucky. One spring after working all morning in the chickens, my grandmother and I were returning home and there was new, young shoots of polk coming up . We picked it as we walked along. Maybe we were hungery, or maybe it was just right and at the very right time, but it was the best meal I every had, and over the years I have had plenty of good meals to compare it to.

A few days later again we were coming home and more new shoots were coming up from the ground. We picked those too, thinking it would be good again. It was not, we were very disappointed. How could only a couple of days make that much difference?

There must be only a small window of time/opportunity when the new polk shoots are good, even if they are new shoots before they start becoming bitter..

An adult polk leaf is poisonous, and I believe that raw young shoots also need to be cooked or they too have a poisnous - but gone when cooked. We always ate it fried. The berries are poisnous too.

Since my family (son, daughter, husband) all have immune problems, I am tempted to give them all a berry, but my parents and grandparents never said anything about such. What they did say was plenty about not eating polk berries or polk when it was older. So I will follow their advice.

I was also attacked by honey bees as a child and had 50 or more stings. I am also tempted to walk my three pass some newly moved hives and see it that would help.

I have never given my family young polk shoots in the spring. So, in only one generation - that tradition was lost. I don't know why, I guess I have always felt that I never got to the young shoots in the spring at the perfect time.
cando1
Ozone, AR
(Zone 6a)

August 5, 2010
9:17 PM

Post #8021692

This old Arkie loves Poke salet too. I parboil it in two waters before i cook it. I've fed it to my kids when they were young. and even yet today.(only the very first leaves in the spring) I've never known anyone to even get sick eating young poke salet.
My great grand father was a doctor in Southern Arkansas in the late 1800,s He died from pnumonia caught when driving a buggy to a patients house in a cold rain. It was said he used a lot of herbal medicines he learned from native americans.
Vickie

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


August 6, 2010
5:28 AM

Post #8022065

I've had polk too (west KY farm roots here) it was always boiled through two changes of waters as well. Fried sounds good...I fry up wild mustard bloom stalks just before they bloom. No flowers, just tight buds. Fry em up till they wilt...ummmm, good!
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

August 6, 2010
2:50 PM

Post #8023353

Boil them change the water, boil them again, and then fry?
Would that make a difference then?
cando1
Ozone, AR
(Zone 6a)

August 7, 2010
2:21 PM

Post #8025333

I would'nt think so. Basicaly thats what i do. And i do want to try it fried.
Vickie
dordee
Silex, MO

August 9, 2010
8:13 PM

Post #8030298

i found out by accident when i left a milk jug of boiled polk berries under the porch over winter, that it makes a great almost black dye for yarn. the effect is like a raven's wing in the sunlight with flashes of red, blue. i had planned to dye some yarn the same week i cooked it, but something came up and it sat under the porch all winter and thawed out so i decided to take a chance and see what i got. glad i did.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

August 9, 2010
9:34 PM

Post #8030417

How long has it been dyed now?
Did you fix it - like with heat - maybe in the drier?

I know that they use to use it for ink. It was not very good ink. It would be on paper for a while and then it would disappear. One famious general in the civil war wrote important things that happened in his diary and it was all lost. So I am very curious if it will fade?

Dordee; That was a pretty description of the polk dye. A raven wing!

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


August 10, 2010
5:45 AM

Post #8030826

A mordant is used to fix natural dyes. Depending on what the dye is made from, one might use vinegar, salt, alum or tannin. Alum is generally the most common. Vinegar and salt change the ph of the liquid but aren't really true mordants.

I'm guessing since the polk juice used as ink faded, that there wasn't anything mixed with it, as this is characteristic of something not fixed with a mordant. Even fixed natural dyes are not completely colorfast and will fade over time.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

August 10, 2010
6:15 AM

Post #8030871

Thankyou for your answer. How much alum do you use?

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


August 10, 2010
6:28 AM

Post #8030881

!0% alum to weight of fiber and 5% tartaric acid per weight (cream of tartar) This is simmered in a pot of water deep enough to cover the fabric or yarn (wool)
Simmer for about an hour. The fibers can then be dyed or dried for dyeing at a later date.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

August 10, 2010
9:05 PM

Post #8032688

melody;
Cream of tartar is some type of magical stuff. I know of a lot of good uses for it: to make the best of biscuits, two to make homemade play doe at bible school every summer not sticky and now this!!!! I did not know this.

Just curious: Okay also impressed too that well--- How did you know this?
Do you grow your own sheep? Cut your own wool? Spin your own wool?

You crochet or knit?

melody

melody
Benton, KY
(Zone 7a)


August 11, 2010
5:43 AM

Post #8033030

I dye fabric.
I've not used the natural dyes, as what I do, the synthetics are better suited, but still know the basics.

I'm not a needlecrafter, but have friends who are. I've got some natural yarn being delivered today in fact. I'll dye it with acid dyes which are well-suited for protein fibers. The image is some silk and wool scarves that I dyed recently for gifts.

Thumbnail by melody
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

August 11, 2010
7:10 PM

Post #8034572

You are very good!!!!

I like the one on the far left. The colors reminds me of my mother's peacocks.

I tried dying, when I was a teenager, I was wore out and the place looked like a tornado hit the house, I had yarn every where strung up.

I did not give up though, I went down to the Smoky mountians to Gatlinburg when I was very young, on my honey moon. On the streets they had all these crafts people. One was doing tie dye. I thought, oh that would be something I would want to do. By the time she got done explaining - my eyes were cross, my brain was spinning, and I was weak in the knees. I had no idea it was that complicated.

So I just purchased a skirt from her. I still have it.
You have my respect - when it comes to this craft.
.

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