Clasping Twisted Stalk, Photo By Bud Logan
The clasping twisted stalk was used as a food plant by the first peoples of the Pacific Northwest and as a medicine. The tender young shoots of this plant were eaten by the first peoples as a salad green. The entire plant is sweet with a cucumber-like flavor. The berries are juicy and sweet. The plant was referred to by early settlers of the Pacific Northwest coast as the wild cucumber and as scoot berries for the mildly laxative effects of the plants’ berries if they are eaten in excessive quantities. As a boy, l would pick a stalk and chew on it just for the flavor. It tasted like water melon, we called it the water melon plant.
The juice of the berries was used as a soothing treatment for burns by both settlers and the first peoples. Just pick and squeeze directly on a wound.
It has a superficial resemblance to false Solomon’s seal, however, clasping twisted stalk produces auxiliary flowers and fruits along the stem, where the false Solomon’s seal produces a terminal inflorescence. Also, the false Solomon’s seal is always a single stem, while the clasping twisted stalk can be branched at the bottom.
It is easily identified by its large, juicy red berries which grow from each leaf axil and boldly contrast the surrounding foliage, and the berries are highly visible, even in the thickest undergrowth.