Pokeweed

Phytolacca americana

Alice B. Russell

Pokeweed is a common plant with large leaves, growing up to 10 feet tall.

The leaves, which can be 12 inches long are dark green.

This plant has thick stems which turn reddish-purple as they get older.

The flowers come in clusters up to 10 inches long. Each flower in the cluster is small (1/4 inch wide) and white. Pokeweed blooms from July to September.

The fruit of Pokeweed is a dark purple berry. The berries also grow in clusters on bright red stems. Each berry is about 1/4 inch across. As the berries ripen, the clusters droop from the weight.

Pokeweed is a perennial plant, which means the stems, leaves, and flowers die each year, but the roots (and therefore the plant) stay alive through the winter. In Spring, each plant will send up new stems and leaves.

Pokeweed is found in woods, fields, roadsides, gardens, and waste places.

Alice B. Russell

Peter Sforza

Pokeweed berries are an important food source for wild life. American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Red Fox, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, and White-footed Mouse all eat the berries.

These animals help spread Pokeweed by pooping out the seeds in new places.

Hugh Wilson

staff CDFA, California Department of Food & Agriculture, Botany Laboratory

Relationships in Nature:

Animals Using as Food Source

Animals Using as Shelter

Associations With Other Plants

OTHER

American Robin

Eastern Cottontail

Common Milkweed

American Robin D

Gray Catbird

Eastern Gray Squirrel

Smooth Crabgrass

Gray Catbird D

Red Fox

Eastern Chipmunk

Red Clover

Red Fox D

White-footed Mouse

White-footed Mouse

Smooth Sumac

White-footed Mouse D

Mourning Dove

Chinese Mantid

Devil's Beggar-tick

Mourning Dove D

Northern Mockingbird

Striped Skunk

Lamb's Quarters

Northern Mockingbird D

Eastern Kingbird

Black and Yellow Argiope

Common Ragweed

Eastern Kingbird D

Raccoon

Green Stinkbug

Jimsonweed

Raccoon D

Northern Cardinal

Eastern Mole

Black-eyed Susan

Northern Cardinal D

Eastern Bluebird

Woodchuck

Bushy Aster

Eastern Bluebird D

Eastern Phoebe

Harvestman

Wild Strawberry

Eastern Phoebe D

Great Crested Flycatcher

Northern Bobwhite

Great Crested Flycatcher D

Cedar Waxwing

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Cedar Waxwing D

Virginia Opossum

Chigger

Virginia Opossum D

Green Stinkbug

European Starling

Relationship to Humans:

Nearly all parts of this plant, including berries, seeds, leaves, and stems, are poisonous to humans. Pokeweed is also an annoying weed in gardens, where it grows quickly. It is valuable as an attractor of wildlife.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Plant
DIVISION
Magnoliophyta
CLASS
Magnoliopsida
ORDER
Caryophyllales
FAMILY
Phytolaccaceae
GENUS
Phytolacca
SPECIES
Phytolacca americana

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