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:||Oblong leaves are smooth and grow alternate along 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 grow from the end of its stems. |
In late summer through early fall, its berries hang down in tight bunches. They are dark purple when ripe.
|Bloom Time:||June to July|
- Pokeweed can often be found in yards, pastures, forest edges, and roadsides.
- Seeds are distributed in bird droppings, so it is often found in areas where birds like to roost, 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. They cause 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 in Washington County to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline.
- Always remember to protect yourself from pokeweed by wearing long sleeves, pants, and gloves.
- Digging up the plant and its roots with a shovel is easiest. This is most effective in the spring when pokeweed is beginning to 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.
It is confused with the native red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa). Unlike pokeweed, red elderberry’s leaves are compound and the leaflets have serrated Having a jagged edge. edges. Elderberries tend to grow in round clusters, while pokeberries grow in long cylindrical clusters.
Pokeweed’s leaves look similar to woody knotweed (Polygonum species), 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