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Phytolacca americana

Pronunciation: Fy-toh-lak-uh a-mer-ih-kay-na
Family: Phytolaccaceae (pokeweed family)
Common Name: Pokeweed, poke, poke salad, scoke, pigeon berry, inkberry
Plant Type:
  • perennial
Height to: 6'-12'
USDA Hardiness Zones:
  • -50 to -40ºF ZONE 2
  • -30 to -40ºF ZONE 3
  • -20 to -30ºF ZONE 4
  • -10 to -20ºF ZONE 5
  • 0 to -10ºF ZONE 6
  • 10 to 0ºF ZONE 7
  • 20 to 10ºF ZONE 8
  • 30 to 20ºF ZONE 9
  • 40 to 30ºF ZONE 10
  • 50 to 40ºF ZONE 11
Sun Exposure:
  • part sun
  • full sun
Bloom Season:
  • late summer
  • early autumn
Bloom Description: The flowers are borne in 6-10 in (15-25 cm) racemes and are about 0. 25 in (0. 6 cm) across with white petal-like sepals. (there are no true petals. ) the berries are juicy, shiny, dark purplish black, and about a 0. 25 in (0. 6 cm) in diameter. These are supported on stems that are bright red. The berries begin to ripen in early summer in warm climates and in autumn in colder regions.
Propagation: Pokeweed self seeds readily throughout its native range. Selections can be propagated by digging and replanting pieces of root.
Native to: Eastern north america from ontario, quebec and maine, west to minnesota, and south to texas, mexico and florida. It grows in waste places, along roads and fencerows, in abandoned fields, and in open woods. Pokeweed can be a troublesome weed but usually behaves itself.
Notes for Identification: Source: floridata - pokeweed is a rather handsome shrub-like herbaceous perennial that is at home in the naturalized or open woodland garden. Some gardeners use pokeweed in shrub or mixed borders. Others just select a few plants to retain from among the many seedlings that pop up wherever they please each spring. The berries, ripening in autumn and poisonous to humans, are very popular with migrating songbirds, especially robins, towhees, mockingbirds, mourning doves, catbirds, and bluebirds. The birds are very effective at converting the purple berries into purple splotches on the sidewalk. Sometimes the birds get drunk on overly ripe berries and don't seem to care where they leave their purple splotches. warning the roots, berries, seeds, and mature stems and leaves of pokeweed are dangerously poisonous. Only the young shoots and developing leaves (before they take on their reddish hue) can be eaten, and only after boiling for 20-30 minutes in at least two changes of water. Be very careful not to get any of the root when picking the young shoots. Pokeweed should not be cultivated anywhere there is a chance that a person might try to eat the berries.
Located in: Herbs
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