American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Gallery:

Common names:

pokeweed, common pokeweed, inkberry, pigeonberry, pokeberry, poke

Scientific Name:

Phytolacca americana

Description:

Pokeweed is an herbaceous perennial in the Phytolaccaceae (pokeweed) family. It has creamy-white flowers that turn to dark purple hanging clusters of berries. The leaves are smooth and spade shaped, and the stems are often pinkish or red. It has a large, fleshy taproot that it re-sprouts from every spring. It spreads mostly by berries that are eaten by birds.

Life cycle:

Perennial

Height of mature plants

up to 10 feet tall, though usually closer to 4-6 feet tall.

Flower color:

Creamy white

Bloom time:

June – July

Look-a-likes:

Pokeweed looks a bit like knotweed species, although the clusters of purple berries are very distinctive of pokeweed

Habitat:

Pokeweed can often be found in yards, pastures, forest openings or disturbed sites, and often in areas like fence lines or underneath power lines (where birds like to rest).

Impacts:

While native to the southeastern United States, pokeweed is not native to Oregon and can form dense patches that crowd out native plants. The plant is also toxic to people, livestock, and pets (although properly prepared, it can be edible). It can spread into natural areas when birds eat the berries and carry the seeds to new places. It is also difficult to control as the taproot can grow very large, up to the size of a bowling ball.

Noxious Weed Listing:

Origin:

Southeastern United States

Links:

4-County CWMA invasive plant fact sheet
East Multnomah SWCD weed profile
City of Portland BES watch species profile
Invasive.org profile

 

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