Pokeroot, pokeweed, pokeberry, red ink plant, You’ve seen it around. Especially if you’re from North Western Pennsylvania like me.  It’s a fruit-bearing plant with deep Merlot colored berries & vineyard style blossoms.  The plant has a large white taproot, green or red stems, and large, simple leaves. White flowers are followed by purple to almost blackberries, which are a good food source for songbirds.  The poisonous principles are found in highest concentrations in the rootstock, leaves, and stems. In this use of the pokeweed– we just need to extract the pigment from the berries, which is easier than it sounds!

Gather the berries off of the stems at their ripest. Wear some gloves to save yourself stained fingers!

Lay your harvest out on the center of a sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half. Roll a marble pestle (or rolling pin) over the mass. Then, scrape the crushed berries into a mason jar.

I choose to cut my mixture with some red wine I had on hand for the day of crafting! Wine will tone down the intensity of the watercolor. If you do not add the wine, go on to the next step and strain out the contents of the jar. I ran mine through a metal mesh filter.  You can use a coffee filter or a tea strainer.

Pour the mixture back into a mason jar and save it for weeks to come! Use it on watercolor paper, or some of my radical recycled paper.  The rich magenta shade is stunning– and best yet it’s natural!  Enjoy this homemade harvest.