Phytolacca americana
American pokeweed

Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana
Phytolacca americana
Wiki Commons, GNU
Britton & Brown
Botanical name: Phytolacca americana
Common name: American pokeweed
Group: dicot
Family: Phytolaccaceae
Growth type: forb/herb
Duration: perennial
Origin: native
Plant height: 4' -10'
Foliage: leaves narrowly oval or oval, 4-12', single, alternate, crinkled edges, point at apex
Flower: greenish-white, in clusters at the ends of the stem (raceme)
Berries: dark purple
Flowering time: May to October; berries form one month after blossoms. Both berries and flowers may appear together at the same time.
Habitat: fields, damp woods
Range in New Jersey: statewide
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc. Young pokeweed leaves are edible if boiled several times to reduce the toxins. However, toxins may still remain and experts suggest it is better left alone. Pokeweed is generally considered very toxic, and improper ingestion can result in seizures, coma and death.

It has also been used as a folk remedy for tonsilitis, swollen glands, etc. Pokeweed berries were traditionally used by Native Americans for dye. Several Lepidoptera species larvae utilize pokeweed for food.