Pokeweed berries. Photo Credit: Robert Vidéki, Doronicum Kft., Bugwood.org
Also known as: American pokeweed, common pokeweed, inkberry, pokeberry, poke
You may have seen it along roadways or in your garden with attractive purple berries drooping down in long bunches. Although the odd-looking pokeweed may seem unthreatening, caution is recommended! All parts of this plant, including its bright berries, are toxic.
|Life Cycle:||Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)|
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||Yes|
|Height:||Up to 9 feet (3 meters)|
|Leaf Description:||The leaves are smooth, lance-shaped, and are alternate on the stem. They are bright green or yellow-green, particularly in sunny locations.|
|Fruit & Flower Description:||The small, white to green flowers form cylindrical clusters that hang from the stems. In late summer through early fall, its berries hang down in tight bunches and are dark purple when ripe.|
|Bloom Time:||June to July|
- Pokeweed can often be found in yards, pastures, forest edges, or disturbed areas like roadsides.
- Seeds are distributed in bird droppings, so it is often found in areas where birds like to rest, like fence lines and under powerlines.
- This hardy species can survive in shade or sun and tolerates many soil types but prefers locations with moisture.
- Pokeweed spreads quickly and easily outcompetes native plants.
- Its poisonous berries pose a threat to livestock, pets, and unsuspecting people looking for a roadside snack. It causes nausea, low blood pressure, and severe stomach issues when eaten by humans.
- Birds are reported to eat the berries without ill-effect and may occasionally become intoxicated after eating many of them.
What you can do about it:
- Please report any pokeweed infestation to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline.
- Wear gloves when handling pokeweed as it can cause skin irritation for some people.
- Digging up the plant and roots with a shovel is easiest. This is most effective in the spring when pokeweed is beginning to re-grow. Take care to remove the entire root system and throw it away in a plastic bag in the trash—not your yard waste bin or home compost.
Pokeweed’s leaves look similar to woody knotweed, but pokeweed produces berry clusters whereas knotweeds do not.
Noxious Weed Listing:
|State of Oregon:||Not Listed|
|State of Washington:||Not Listed|
Download the Pokeweed Best Management Practices Factsheet
- University of California, Weed Research and Information Center: Common pokeweed