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Phytolacca americana L.
PIGEON BERRY
Pokeweed; Inkberry; Pigeonberry; Pokeberry; Phytolacca decandra L; American pokeweed

Life   Plantae   Dicotyledoneae   Phytolaccaceae   Phytolacca

Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed flowers, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman ---.
© Copyright source/photographer · 5
Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed flowers, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman ---.

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Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed flowers, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman ---.
© Copyright source/photographer · 5
Phytolacca americana, Pokeweed flowers, Howard County, MD, Helen Lowe Metzman ---.
Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana
Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana
Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana
Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana
© Copyright Bobby Hattaway 2011 · 5
Phytolacca americana
Phytolacca americana, whole plant - in flower - general view
© Copyright Steve Baskauf, 2002-2011 · 4
Phytolacca americana, whole plant - in flower - general view

Phytolacca americana, inflorescence - whole - unspecified
© Copyright Steve Baskauf, 2002-2011 · 4
Phytolacca americana, inflorescence - whole - unspecified
Phytolacca americana, inflorescence - frontal view of flower
© Copyright Steve Baskauf, 2002-2011 · 4
Phytolacca americana, inflorescence - frontal view of flower

Phytolacca americana, stem - showing leaf bases
© Copyright Steve Baskauf, 2002-2011 · 4
Phytolacca americana, stem - showing leaf bases
Phytolacca americana, whole plant - in flower - general view
© Copyright Steve Baskauf, 2002-2011 · 4
Phytolacca americana, whole plant - in flower - general view

Hosts · map
FamilyScientific name @ source (records)
_  2007-09-29 16 @ (1)

phytolacca americana @ I_EHLK (3)

Associates · map
FamilyScientific name @ source (records)
Aphididae  Prociphilus ( @ NCSU (1)
Apidae  Apis mellifera @ PN- (3)

Ceratina dupla @ UCMS_ENT (1)
Diaporthaceae  Diaporthe aculeata @ BPI (1)

Diaporthe arctii @ BPI (1)

Phomopsis @ BPI (1)
Halictidae  Lasioglossum ephialtum @ UCMS_ENT (1)

Lasioglossum oceanicum @ UCMS_ENT (1)

Lasioglossum pilosum @ UCMS_ENT (1)
Mycosphaerellaceae  Cercospora flagellaris @ BPI (12)

Septoria phytolaccae @ BPI (2)
Phyllachoraceae  Phyllachora @ BPI (1)
Phytolaccaceae  Phytolacca americana @ I_EHLK (3)
Pleosporaceae  Alternaria concentrica @ BPI (1)
_  Cicadellidae @ PN- (2)

Gn_ms_flectotheca sp_wa0909msp100 @ AMNH_PBI (1)

Vespidae @ PN- (1)

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Delaware Wildflowers  •  Scientific names

Phytolacca americana L. Pokeweed
Phytolaccaceae — Pokeweed family
Native
Phytolacca americana
The front yard
July 2001 Phytolacca americana
White Clay Creek State Park -- Creek Road
September 2010 Phytolacca americana
Paper Mill Park
September 2014

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Photos copyright David G. Smith

Delaware Wildflowers main page

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Phytolacca americana L.
American pokeweed

Image of Phytolacca americana

General Information
Symbol: PHAM4
Group: Dicot
Family: Phytolaccaceae
Duration: Perennial
Growth Habit : Forb/herb
Native Status : CAN   N
L48   N
Characteristics
Data Source and Documentation
About our new maps
Plants-NRCS Logos
green round image for nativity Native blue round image for introduced Introduced ocre round image for introduced and nativity Both white round image for no status Absent/Unreported
image for native, but no county data Native, No County Data image for introduced, but no county data Introduced, No County Data both introduced and native, but no county data Both, No County Data
Native Status:
lower 48 status L48    Alaska status AK    Hawaii status HI    Puerto Rico status PR    Virgin Islands status VI    Navassa Island NAV    Canada status CAN    Greenland status GL    Saint Pierre and Michelon status SPM    North America NA   

Images

click on a thumbnail to view an image, or see all the Phytolacca thumbnails at the Plants Gallery

Robert H. Mohlenbrock. USDA NRCS. 1995. Northeast wetland flora: Field office guide to plant species . Northeast National Technical Center, Chester. Provided by USDA NRCS Wetland Science Institute (WSI). Usage Requirements .

©Thomas G. Barnes. Barnes, T.G., and S.W. Francis. 2004. Wildflowers and ferns of Kentucky . University Press of Kentucky. Usage Requirements .

Steve Hurst. Provided by ARS Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory . Turkey, Trabzon. Usage Requirements .

©Ted Bodner. James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller. 2005. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. University of Georgia Press., Athens. Provided by University of Georgia Press . Scanned by Forestry Images . Usage Requirements .

©Ted Bodner. James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller. 2005. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. University of Georgia Press., Athens. Provided by University of Georgia Press . Scanned by Forestry Images . Usage Requirements .

©Ted Bodner. James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller. 2005. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses. University of Georgia Press., Athens. Provided by University of Georgia Press . Scanned by Forestry Images . Usage Requirements .

©Elaine Haug. Provided by Smithsonian Institution, Department of Botany . United States, VA, Woodbridge, Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge. Usage Requirements .

©Jeff McMillian. Provided by Almost Eden . United States, LA. Usage Requirements .

Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 26. Provided by Kentucky Native Plant Society . Scanned by Omnitek Inc . Usage Requirements .

USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Provided by NRCS National Wetland Team . Usage Requirements .

slideshow

Synonyms

Classification

Click on a scientific name below to expand it in the PLANTS Classification Report.
Rank Scientific Name and Common Name
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Caryophyllidae
Order Caryophyllales
Family Phytolaccaceae – Pokeweed family
Genus Phytolacca L. – pokeweed
Species Phytolacca americana L. – American pokeweed

Subordinate Taxa

The Plants Database includes the following 2 subspecies of Phytolacca americana . Click below on a thumbnail map or name for subspecies profiles. Plant is native (blue) Native Plant is introduced Introduced Plant is introduced Native and Introduced Related taxa legend Distribution of <i>
Phytolacca americana</i>
L. var. <i>
americana </i>
Phytolacca americana var. americana
American pokeweed Distribution of <i>
Phytolacca americana</i>
L. var. <i>
rigida</i>
(Small) Caulkins & Wyatt
Phytolacca americana var. rigida
American pokeweed

Legal Status

U.S. Weed Information
Phytolacca americana American pokeweed common pokeweed inkberry pigeonberry pokeberry pokeweed This plant can be weedy or invasive according to the authoritative sources noted below.This plant may be known by one or more common names in different places, and some are listed above. Click on an acronym to view each weed list, or click here for a composite list of Weeds of the U.S.
KY Haragan, P.D.. 1991. Weeds of Kentucky and adjacent states: a field guide . The University Press of Kentucky. Lexington, Kentucky.
N'EAST Uva, R.H., J.C. Neal,and J.M. DiTomaso. 1997. Weeds of the Northeast . Cornell University Press. Ithaca, New York.
NE&GP Stubbendieck, J., G.Y. Friisoe,and M.R. Bolick. 1994. Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains . Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry. Lincoln, Nebraska.
SWSS Southern Weed Science Society. 1998. Weeds of the United States and Canada. CD-ROM . Southern Weed Science Society. Champaign, Illinois.

Wetland Status

Interpreting Wetland Status

North America
Arid West FAC
Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain FACU
Eastern Mountains and Piedmont FACU
Great Plains FACU
Midwest FACU
Northcentral & Northeast FACU
Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast FACU

Related Links

More Accounts and Images
ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (PHAM4)
CalPhotos (PHAM4)
Flora of North America (PHAM4)
Integrated Taxonomic Information System (PHAM4)
Jepson Interchange (University of California - Berkeley) (PHAM4)
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Information Network (PHAM4)
Native American Ethnobotany (University of Michigan - Dearborn) (PHAM4)
USF Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants (PHAM4)
University of Tennessee Herbarium (Distribution) (PHAM4)
Related Websites
HI-Plants of Hawaii (HEAR) (PHAM4)
Henriette's Herbal Homepage (PHAM4)
IL-Veterinary Medicine Library (PHAM4)
KS-Kansas Wildflowers and Grasses (PHAM4)
MO-Missouri Plants (PHAM4)
NC-Plant Fact Sheets (NCSU) (PHAM4)
NY-Cornell University: Poisonous Plant Databases (images) (PHAM4)
Pokeweed Antiviral Protein (PHAM4)
Purdue University, Botany Department: no-till abstract & images (PHAM4)
UK-Plants For A Future (PHAM4)
VA-Weed Identification Guide (PHAM4)
Wildflowers of the Southeastern U.S. (PHAM4)

Wildlife

Food

Source Large Mammals Small Mammals Water Birds Terrestrial Birds
Martin Minor Minor
Miller Low Low Moderate
Yarrow Low Low Low

Cover

Source Large Mammals Small Mammals Water Birds Terrestrial Birds
Martin
Miller
Yarrow

Sources

Martin, A.C., H.S. Zim, and A.L. Nelson. 1951. American wildlife and plants: A guide to wildlife food habits . Dover Publications. New York.
Miller, J.H., and K.V. Miller. 1999. Forest plants of the southeast and their wildlife uses . Southern Weed Science Society.
Yarrow, G.K., and D.T. Yarrow. 1999. Managing wildlife . Sweet Water Press. Birmingham.

Description of Values

Value Class Food Cover
High Average 25-50% of diet Regular source of cover
Low 5-10% of diet Infrequently used as cover
Minor 2-5% of diet Sparsely used as cover
Moderate Average 10-25% of diet Occasional source of cover


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Following modified from Flora of North America
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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | Phytolaccaceae | Phytolacca

2. Phytolacca americana Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 441. 1753.

Pokeweed, poke, pokeberry

Plants to 3(-7) m. Leaves: petiole 1-6 cm; blade lanceolate to ovate, to 35 × 18 cm, base rounded to cordate, apex acuminate. Racemes open, proximalmost pedicels sometimes bearing 2-few flowers, erect to drooping, 6-30 cm; peduncle to 15 cm; pedicel 3-13 mm. Flowers: sepals 5, white or greenish white to pinkish or purplish, ovate to suborbiculate, equal to subequal, 2.5-3.3 mm; stamens (9-)10(-12) in 1 whorl; carpels 6-12, connate at least in proximal 1 /2; ovary 6-12-loculed. Berries purple-black, 6-11 mm diam. Seeds black, lenticular, 3 mm, shiny. 2 n = 36.

Varieties 2 (2 in the flora): North America; introduced in Europe.

The infraspecific taxonomy of Phytolacca americana has been disputed since J. K. Small (1905) recognized P. rigida as distinct from P. americana on the basis of its "permanently erect panicles" [sic] and "pedicels...much shorter than the diameter of the berries." J. W. Hardin (1964b) separated P. rigida from P. americana by the length of the raceme (2-12 cm in P. rigida , 5-30 cm in P. americana ) and the thickness and diameter of the xylem center of the peduncle (70% greater thickness in P. rigida , 17% greater diameter in P. americana ), but he found no discontinuities in any feature. J. W. Nowicke (1968) and J. D. Sauer (1952), among others, treated P. rigida as a synonym of P. americana . Most recently, D. B. Caulkins and R. Wyatt (1990) recognized P. rigida as a variety of P. americana .

The varieties are not always clearly distinct. Some specimens combine the erect inflorescences of var. rigida with the long pedicels of var. americana . Such intermediate plants can be seen as far north as coastal Delaware, sometimes growing with var. americana .

Collectors of Phytolacca americana should record carefully whether the inflorescences are erect, drooping, or intermediate between the extremes.

The fruits and seeds of Phytolacca americana are eaten and disseminated by birds and, probably, mammals. They are said to be an important source of food for mourning doves (A. C. Martin et al. 1951).

Phytolacca americana is well known to herbalists, cell biologists, and toxicologists. According to some accounts, its young leaves, after being boiled in two waters (the first being discarded) to deactivate toxins, are edible, even being available canned (they pose no culinary threat to spinach). Young shoots are eaten as a substitute for asparagus. Ripe berries were used to color wine and are eaten (cooked) in pies. Poke is used as an emetic, a purgative, a suppurative, a spring tonic, and a treatment for various skin maladies, especially hemorrhoids.

Pokeweed mitogen is a mixture of glycoprotein lectins that are powerful immune stimulants, promoting T- and B-lymphocyte proliferation and increased immun-oglobulin levels. "Accidental exposure to juices from Phytolacca americana via ingestion, breaks in the skin, and the conjunctiva has brought about hematological changes in numerous people, including researchers studying this species" (G. K. Rogers 1985). Poke antiviral proteins are of great interest for their broad, potent antiviral (including Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and antifungal properties (P. Wang et al. 1998). Saponins found in P. americana and P. dodecandra are lethal to the molluscan intermediate host of schistosomiasis (J. M. Pezzuto et al. 1984). The toxic compounds in P. americana are phytolaccatoxin and related triterpene saponins, the alkaloid phytolaccin, various histamines, and oxalic acid. When ingested, the roots, leaves, and fruits may poison animals, including Homo sapiens . Symptoms of poke poisoning include sweating, burning of the mouth and throat, severe gastritis, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, blurred vision, elevated white-blood-cell counts, unconsciousness, and, rarely, death.

"Poke" is thought to come from "pocan" or "puccoon," probably from the Algonquin term for a plant that contains dye.

SELECTED REFERENCES

Armesto, J. J., G. P. Cheplick, and M. J. McDonnell. 1983. Observations of the reproductive biology of Phytolacca americana (Phytolaccaceae). Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 110: 380-383. Caulkins, D. B. and R. Wyatt. 1990. Variation and taxonomy of Phytolacca americana and P. rigida in the southeastern United States. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 117: 357-367. Davis, J. I. 1985. Introgression in Central American Phytolacca (Phytolaccaceae). Amer. J. Bot. 72: 1944-1953. Hardin, J. W. 1964b. A comparison of Phytolacca americana and P. rigida . Castanea 29: 155-164. Sauer, J. D. 1950. Pokeweed, an old American herb. Missouri Bot. Gard. Bull. 38: 82-88. Sauer, J. D. 1951. Studies of variation in the weed genus Phytolacca . II. Latitudinally adapted variants within a North American species. Evolution 5: 273-279. Sauer, J. D. 1952. A geography of pokeweed. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 39: 113-125.

Updated: 2020-08-05 05:31:23 gmt
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