Plant DetailShow Menu

Poke Phytolacca americana

Other plants called Poke:

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

Phytoclacca americana, or Pokeweed, is a native herbaceous perennial in the Phytolaccaceae family that may grow 6 to 10 feet high. It is an aggressive plant that self-seeds easily and can become weedy. The plant grows easily in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It prefers consistently moist soils, but will tolerate short periods of drought.

The leaves are bright green, give off an unpleasant aroma when crushed and the stems are attractive reddish-purple color. White blooms first mature in early summer and continue into early fall. The plant has a thick fleshy taproot, up to 12 inches long and 4 inches thick. Dark blue-black, purple berries mature in the late summer to fall and attract birds.

Despite its moderately attractive ornamental features, Phytolacca americana is generally considered an invasive weed in most settings. All parts of this plant are poisonous to humans, except by boiling young leaves only in at least two changes of water.

Insects, Diseases or Other Plant Problems: 

Susceptible to mosaic virus.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Phytolacca americana var. 'rigida'
Tags:
#bees#white#showy flowers#poisonous#drought tolerant#perennial#weed#wildlife plant#weedy#fragrant leaves#rabbit resistant#showy stems#showy fruits#small mammals#herb garden#food source#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#racoons#deer resistant#black berries#native garden#purple berries#native wildflower#wildflower garden#food source summer#food source fall#malodorus#perennial weed#food source nectar#food source pollen#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#pollinators#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Phytolacca americana var. 'rigida'
Tags:
#bees#white#showy flowers#poisonous#drought tolerant#perennial#weed#wildlife plant#weedy#fragrant leaves#rabbit resistant#showy stems#showy fruits#small mammals#herb garden#food source#fire#medium flammability#NC native#foxes#black bears#racoons#deer resistant#black berries#native garden#purple berries#native wildflower#wildflower garden#food source summer#food source fall#malodorus#perennial weed#food source nectar#food source pollen#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#pollinators#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Phytolacca
    Species:
    americana
    Family:
    Phytolaccaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern United States
    Distribution:
    Northern and Central North America.
    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: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Poisonous
    Weed
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    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, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • 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 that attract birds and small mammals. Displays from June to November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Description:
    Racemes of small, white flowers in bloom July through September. Produces flowers that may be up to ¾ of an inch wide along 8” racemes. The flower has five petal-like greenish to white sepals.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant 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
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The large green leaves (12 inches long up to 7 inches wide) and give off an unpleasant aroma when crushed or bruised. Leaves taper at both ends.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Showy purple stems, stout (up to 2 inches in diameter), smooth.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Insect Pests
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Poisonous to Humans
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Medium
    Poison Symptoms:
    Causes diarrhea and vomiting. The plant contains substances that cause cell division and can damage chromosomes. These substances can be absorbed through any abrasions in the skin, potentially causing serious blood aberrations, and so it is strongly recommended that the people wear gloves when handling the plant.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    All parts of the plant are poisonous.
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Roots
    Seeds
    Stems