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Phytolacca americana

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
fy-toh-LAK-uh a-mer-ih-KAY-nah
This plant has medium severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Pokeweed is a native herbaceous perennial in the Phytolaccaceae family that may grow 6 to 10 feet high. The leaves are bright green, fragrant when crushed and the stems are attractive reddish-purple color. The leaves are alternate with a smooth margin. White blooms first mature in early summer and continue into early fall. Can be weedy because it naturalizes in the landscape and self-seeds easily. Has a thick fleshy taproot.   Dark blue-black, purple berries mature in the late summer to fall and attract birds. Tolerates rabbits.  

Fire Risk: This plant has a medium flammability rating. 

Seasons of Interest:

     Bloom: Summer, fall; Fruit/Seed/Nut: Late summer, fall

Insects, Diseases or Other Plant Problems:  Susceptible to mosaic virus. No known insect or disease problems.

Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#showy flowers#birds#songbirds#poisonous#drought tolerant#perennial#herbs#weed#wildlife plant#wildflowers#weedy#fragrant leaves#rabbit resistant#showy stems#showy fruits#mammals#small mammals#food source#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#racoons#deer resistant#black berries#native garden#purple berries#unplesant fragrance#native wildflower#fall food source#food source summer#food source fall#perennial weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#showy flowers#birds#songbirds#poisonous#drought tolerant#perennial#herbs#weed#wildlife plant#wildflowers#weedy#fragrant leaves#rabbit resistant#showy stems#showy fruits#mammals#small mammals#food source#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#racoons#deer resistant#black berries#native garden#purple berries#unplesant fragrance#native wildflower#fall food source#food source summer#food source fall#perennial weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Phytolacca
    Species:
    americana
    Family:
    Phytolaccaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits are eaten by songbirds, like robins, cedar-waxwings, and warblers, small mammals, raccoons, opossums, foxes, and black bears. Songbirds, mourning doves, and small mammals eat the seeds.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Polkweed is moderately deer resistant.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 2 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Weed
    Wildflower
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Description:
    Drooping cluster of green fruit ripens to glossy dark purple-black
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Racemes of small, white flowers; 5 greenish white sepals look like petals July to September;
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    12" long 4"-7" broad, lance to elliptic shaped bright green leaves tapers at both ends; strong unpleasant odor when crushed
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Purple stout (up to 2" in diameter) smooth
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Insect Pests
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Historically it was a popular green served in the south. Some nurseries refuse to sell this plant because of its toxic properties.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    All parts of the plant are poisonous. Only the young spring leaves and stems can be eaten after two changes of water.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems