pokeweed

Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). Photo: Betty Marose

Updated: March 4, 2021

Pokeweed is a Maryland native plant. The berries and seeds provide food for birds and other native wildlife.

Life cycle: perennial resembling a small tree

Growth habit: grows 3 to 8 ft. high, leaves light green, alternate, smooth, lanceolate to egg-shaped, often reddish on underside; stems reddish

Reproduction: seed or large, red-tinged, fleshy taproot; small, white flowers in long, purple-stemmed, hanging clusters; berries green at first, turning glossy, dark purple, leaving a purple-red stain; poisonous

Conditions that favor growth: grows anywhere seeds are dropped by birds; fields, roadsides, fence rows; thrives in deep, rich, gravelly soils

Cultural control: manually remove plants prior to flower formation and seed production