Pokeberry. Phytolacca americana L.

Figure 86.—Pokeberry (Phytolacca americana)

Synonym

Phytolacca decandra L.

Other Common Names

Poke, pigeon berry, garget, scoke, pocan, coakum, Virginia poke, inkberry, red inkberry, American nightshade, cancer jalap.

Habitat And Range

Pokeweed, a common, familiar, native weed, is found in rich, moist soil along fence rows, fields, and uncultivated land from the New England States to Minnesota and south to Florida and Texas.

Description

The stout, smooth stems of this plant, arising from a very large root, reach a height of from 3 to 9 feet, and are erect and branched, green at first, then reddish. The smooth leaves are borne on short stems and are about 5 inches long and 2 to 3 inches wide. The long-stalked clusters of whitish flowers, which appear from July to September, are from 3 to 4 inches in length, and the flowers are numerous and borne on reddish stems. The berries which follow and mature in about two months have a rich dark-purple color, are roundish with flattened ends, and contain shiny black seeds embedded in a rich crimson juice. Pokeweed has a very thick, long, fleshy, conical, branching root which is poisonous

Part Used

The root, collected in late autumn, is sliced and dried; also, but to a less extent, the ripe berries.