Saturday, August 14, 2010

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Phytolacca americana is known by the many common names: American Pokeweed, Pokeweed, American Niightshade, Poke, Cancer Jalap, Coakum, Garget, Inkberry, Pigeon Berry, Pocan Bush, Poke Root, Redweed, Scoke, and Red Ink Plant. It grows widely in this area. The Wikipedia article provides a lot of information about this plant – toxicity, edibility etc. When we moved here, I was warned not to get juice from the plants in any open cut. I’ve always treated the plant with respect.

A young plant is upright with large, alternate leaves.

A flowering plant which has started to grow ‘rangy’. Mature plants may grow to 10 feed; some along our fence line grow this tall. Others are 5 to 6 feet tall. This plant is about 7 feet tall.

A flower head just starting to develop.

The developing flower head, a little further along.

A close up of the developing flowerlets.

A little further along…

Flowerlets at the base are starting to open; those at the top are still developing

The flower head with opened flowerlets. The flowerlets are quite beautiful.

The berries are developing

Ripe berries.

Phytolacca Americana (American Pokeweed) is native to the United States and Canada and grows in most states except the Rocky Mountain states.
Click on an image to view a larger image

Distribution Map:

- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Database: Phytolacca americana (American Pokeweed)

- University of North Carolina Herbarium: Phytolacca americana

Identification resources:
- Southeastern Flora: American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

- Natural and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Phytolacca americana

Missouri Plants: Phytolacca Americana
- Wikipedia: Phytolacca americana

Related posts:

- 2010: Year Of The Wildflower – Wildflower Index


Anonymous said...

I had these in my backyard habitat in Virginia, and the birds love them. Unfortunately, most people consider them unsightly and invasive weeds.

JSK said...

The Wikipedia article noted that the berries were a source of food for Northern Cardinals, Brown Thrashers and Northern Mockingbirds. I haven't seen birds here eating them but the plants are distributed widely at our place and well away from the house where we wouldn't see.
I can appreciate why people consider them undesirable and they may pose some danger for small children who might eat the berries. The plants need space; we let them grow only because we are trying to maintain as natural an ecosystem as possible