Skip to Content
Weed control, management, ecology, and minutia
by John Roncoroni
on December 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM
Got some pictures of Pokeweed growing in the shadow of the Coliseum in Rome
by Mona Harte
on May 5, 2012 at 10:58 AM
THANK YOU! For the past two summers I have had a plant or two near the orange tree. I let them grow as the feral cats like sleeping under their shade during the heat of a hot Sacramento day. This spring they are trying to take over the backyard - so most are going out today,
by sheila marchus
on August 31, 2013 at 4:52 PM
Well, now I know that the strange plant that popped up in the yard is Pokeweed. Will consider how to deal with it. It was so unusual I let it mature.  
I have not seen this before in Amador County, Ca.
by Loree Morin
on October 24, 2013 at 3:11 PM
Me and my friends have seen the plant around the school ,when it pops up we use the berries to make ink for my quil pen and use the dead stalks sort of like a papyrus ,I'm glad I finally know what it is
by Anarka Olsen
on August 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM
I don't know how it arrived in Vermont but it's been here 3 years now and growing stronger ! The stalks are 8-10 feet high and spreading.I was warned not to let it touch me as I chopped it down.A small part brushed my heel and ankle as I tried to free it and I'm itching fiercly.So I feel it IS toxic even when not eating it..Does burning the chopped down stalks and leaves kill the berries which I assume are seeds?
by Julie Cade
on September 1, 2014 at 1:22 PM
Growing now, about 5' tall and 4' wide, shaped as a tree, in an ornamental garden at a winery in Glen Ellen; we have been admiring it and wondering where we can buy one, only to do the research and find it is an undesirable. I'll pass along the information to the owners; I have seen some others sprouting up.
by Audrey Leff
on September 17, 2014 at 1:06 PM
A plant fitting the description of Pokweed has been growing in my atrium here in Yuba City this summer. It was about 6 inches tall when I first noticed it among the begonias and cyclamen I had planted in the spring. I have lived here 20 years and had not seen such a plant before especially growing my atrium. I was curious to see what it would become so now it is about 3 ft tall w dark red berries. Now that I know it is toxic, I will remove it.
by Donna
on September 5, 2015 at 3:52 PM
First time this has been in my yard. I had no idea what it was...but it was healthy and thriving. I looked up "purple berry producing weed. Bingo!!! Thank you, from lower Michigan.
by Quicksilver
on September 15, 2015 at 11:46 AM
I was told it was a weed in is normally seen in Louisiana. I had never seen them come up before that was near a cut tree so they grew the summer long, being nearly 10 feet high although a very dry and excessively hot this summer. Thanks for the heads up!
by Coleen
on September 26, 2015 at 2:16 PM
We have it here in KS also. There were several "trees" of it when I moved into my rental house and I cut them down... of course they came back. The next year I dug them up, but a few smaller ones still came up here and there.
by Laura
on September 30, 2015 at 4:55 PM
I have multiple plants growing at the edge of my back yard. :(. I don't want to touch it now.
by Heather
on October 11, 2015 at 8:09 AM
I'm so glad I found this blog. We have a nice healthy one by our garden gate, about 5 feet all. It seems to have appeared after I put a nursery plant of some kind in the ground, which didn't make it (maybe came in with that plant?). We thought it was unusual, and let it grow. I will admit to liking the look of it, but if it is toxic and as invasive as it is, I will be removing all traces.
by Rick Bubert
on October 18, 2016 at 7:37 AM
I have seen a lot of these plants in southwestern Virginia. I was thinking that the locals called it by a different name. Do you know if this is true, and if so, do you know this other name?
Reply by Brad Hanson
on October 18, 2016 at 9:30 AM
Hi Rick,  
Plants, and especially weeds, can have lots of different common names in different areas of the country and world.  
According to the reference "Weeds of California and other Western States", what this article called common pokeweed (Latin name: Phytolacca americana L.) is also known as: American cancer, American pokeweed, cancer jalap, coakum, garget, inkberry, pigeonberry, poke, poke sallet, pokeberry, pokeweed,red-ink plant, redweed, scoke, and Virgina poke. And that's just in the U.S.!  
Take care.  
by Nancy Stell
on November 2, 2016 at 2:22 PM
Its grows here in middle TN, and every year I dutifully remove it, but it comes back everyyear. It is rather colorful and distinctive.
by Ernie
on November 5, 2016 at 8:55 AM
The last few years we have seen the spread of this plant in northern Michigan (45th parallel)it's very hardy!
by Markus
on January 21, 2017 at 10:37 PM
My grandparents cook it and eat it. I never been brave enough to try it, but they seem to love it toxic or not.
by Jennifer Eslick
on June 12, 2017 at 12:16 PM
Thank you for posting this! We live in the eastern side of the San Francisco bay. These things have aggressively come back under the fence for the last 15 years. Now that I know it is not an endangered plant, and is truly an undesirable weed, I'll try with renewed vigor to destroy it.
by Lynn
on June 20, 2017 at 8:13 AM
I have a pokeweed plant growing in my raised vegetable garden. I didn't know what it was until now and let it grow because I was curious. Now I'm worried about the other veggies that are growing with it. Will they be safe to eat? I am going to remove the pokeweed. Thanks!
Reply by Brad Hanson
on June 20, 2017 at 8:37 AM
Lynn, the toxic compounds in pokeweed are in the tissues - highest in the fruits but present in all plant parts. But, should not affect nearby plants (other than being a giant competitor for light and other resources). In the southern US, pokeweed greens are eaten after proper preparation (look up poke salad, or poke sallet). Brad
Reply by Guy B Kyser
on June 20, 2017 at 8:39 AM
Go ahead and pull the pokeweed, but don't worry about the other plants - they won't be affected just by growing next to it. Wash your veggies anyway because of bugs & birds. Cheers!
by Marty Thompson
on July 24, 2017 at 9:52 AM
Is tarping the affected area effective? I have a stand of pokeweed in my backyard in any area where I used to have variegated weigela, but this and an invasive vine that also produces berries caused me to Hagee to take the weigela down.  
I would now like to permanently remove these invasive weeds so that i can plant something desirable. What would be the best way to go about this?
by Guy B Kyser
on July 24, 2017 at 11:04 AM
I haven't heard of tarping for pokeweed. In general, it's hard to control perennial weeds like this by tarping - they have a lot of underground energy reserves and they find a way to grow around or through the tarp.  
If you want to use organic methods, the best thing to do is keep pulling the plants, trying to get as much of the roots as possible, and put 'em in the trash or lay them out on tarmac (or a tarp) to dry completely. It may take a couple of seasons to get all the stragglers.  
If you are comfortable using herbicides, you can cut the plants and paint the cut stems with concentrated glyphosate (eg Roundup) or triclopyr (eg Garlon). The nice thing about this application method is that the chemical only goes where you put it.
by Lori Trew
on July 30, 2017 at 4:33 PM
Small plant in a half-barrel last summer, and this summer it's 6 or 7 feet tall! I've been giving it plenty of water, responding to it's enthusiasm and not knowing what it was. Just had it identified by taking a sprig to the nursery her in Willits, CA (Mendocino County). Not sure what I'm going to do - I'll just keep an eye on it. It's not bothering anything else right now, and it's nice to have something that's not languishing in the summer heat.
by John Veverka
on August 8, 2017 at 9:23 AM
I have one growing in my garden too - didn't know what it was. Now its about 5' tall. So I just left it alone as something (Aug) interesting. Thanks for the info.
by Julia Daily
on August 13, 2017 at 11:50 AM
This was the first article to appear when I searched for "weed tall purple stalk purple berries". I live in western Missouri, and I'm seeing this start to grow in my yard more frequently over the last couple of years. I saw some very tall plants near some hiking trails in eastern Kansas wooded areas. Thanks for providing this information.
by Rachel
on August 15, 2017 at 5:20 PM
I am glad I finally found out what this is! It grows right next to my hibiscus plant and I have been letting it grow to see what it was. Thanks for the info :)
by Elisa
on August 17, 2017 at 5:06 PM
I wanted to add that this plant is a good source of food for a variety of birds. You mentioned "birds can eat the berries but sometimes act funny afterwards" but I've found several sources that state it is a useful food especially for migrating birds. The patch in my backyard attracts lots of birds and so far I haven't observed any acting strangely. Here's one reliable link that explains it in an easy to read manner.
by greg
on September 9, 2017 at 9:53 PM
this plant, get rid of it ASAP if its in your yard, it is not something u want to keep as an ornament or whatever, and most likely it will come back anyway if you try to get rid of it, and spread out of control. I have this in my backyard, its taken over a lot of space. It's roots are deep and hard to get rid of. Comes back after winter.
by greg
on September 9, 2017 at 9:55 PM
this plant will become your worste nightmare in your yard or garden. Get rid of it asap, root and all.  
It looks cool until you realize its spreading everywhere and its roots go deep.
by frank
on September 14, 2017 at 7:43 AM
We have three of these robustly growing plants in our backyard in Michigan. I ended up taking a picture and using an app to identify as pokeweed. After reading some of the comments I think I'll go pull them out after work.
by Laura Federico
on September 18, 2017 at 3:08 PM
I stumble across this plant just today. I didn't know what it was. I thought it was black current. Boy was I wrong. I wad wondering if the beautifully fusia colored berries could be used as a dye?
by Joyce weber
on September 24, 2017 at 8:29 AM
It is now growing here in Ontario, Canada also
by Grant Dawson
on September 26, 2017 at 10:06 AM
Well hallelujah. I recently renovated a beautiful old garden space on Chicago's North Shore. I dug at least a dozen of the tubers/bulbs up but there were clearly a couple left behind that have come back. Both client and I were fascinated by them, saw them beginning to flower and thought...what the heck?! Well, experiment over. Thanks much!
by Frances
on October 7, 2017 at 4:10 PM
They're showing up in Sonoma & Marin Counties (California) now, too. I found three in backyard of a family property, they're ten feet tall and a bit wider than that at the crown. Pretty, but I don't want the entire area filled with them. I noticed two adjoining yards have them, too, on the other side of the fence corner. Thanks for posting what they are, how they grow and that some care should be taken when dealing with them!
by Teresa
on October 12, 2017 at 7:15 AM
This plant started growing out of our fire pit we have in our yard. (In Texas) Ive let it grow because I thought it was very unusual and kind of pretty. There is piles of leaves branches that we have put in the fire pit and it's growing right up through them.
by JR Lambert
on October 28, 2017 at 9:15 AM
This plant is everywhere in the Midwest. It grows so large and quickly that its appearance is often quite intimidating. The one growing outside my bedroom window can be seen moving or possibly growing at night. Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night it's gone but always returns by sun-up. It's moving now. These plants are evil...
by Eileen
on November 5, 2017 at 5:16 AM
Thank you so much! This weed is taking over my yard in central Connecticut! It loves to grow under my small trees and strangles them. I will cut them down and paint the roots! I live in a farm fied so it may be impossible to get rid of them!
on February 7, 2018 at 5:59 PM
You all are silly. I come from South Carolina and live in Florida now for the last 20 years. I have eaten Phytolacca Americana all my life and continue to grow and cook it for food to this very day. You simply have to prepare it properly. It is good and healthy for the body. Thank God for Pokeweed, Poke Salad, Poke Salat. It is a wonderful and beautiful plant. The berries were used to make ink to write both the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution for the united States of America. Kudzu is edible also, and plentiful. At any rate, if you prefer to rely upon the corporate grocery chains for all your nutritional needs at a high cost, be my guest avoid all natural foods that nature provides us at no cost.
by M. Bradley
on February 12, 2018 at 9:23 AM
I love my Poke Sallet plant in San Francisco. It popped up in a corner of my garden that has always needed just the right plant and this is it! I prune it about twice a week as it is very prolific. It was supposed to die back in December, but I believe becasue of our temperate climate it didn't. Haven't eaten the leaves, yet. I have been trying to find out if you can harvest new leaves from an established plant or only when it first pops from the ground. Info would be appreciated!
by Guy B Kyser
on February 12, 2018 at 10:48 AM
I agree with eating weeds & wild plants (make sure they haven't been sprayed), and I also think Pokeweed is a nice-looking plant. Problem is, sometimes it wants to be the only plant in the garden...  
Some references suggest that pokeweed leaves should only be harvested when they first come out of the ground - later on, the plant is too toxic - and like Ed says, it has to be prepared properly.
by K Keller
on June 14, 2018 at 3:07 PM
Growing up we had a huge pokeweed at the edge of our woods. (Now there are several). As a kid I would make ink from the berries and use a homemade dip pen made from an ostrich feather to write and draw with. I had no idea what it was until now. - glad I was a smart kid and didn’t try to taste them since I didn’t know what it was!
by Joseph Connell
on June 25, 2018 at 9:41 AM
Hi Brad,  
We have pokeweed growing along riparian areas in Chico, CA and occasionally in irrigated gardens in the city. One popped up as a seedling in my backyard and I let it grow because it reminded me of my grandfathers woods in Pennsylvania where it's native. As a boy, I enjoyed chopping them down with a pocket knife as I roamed through the woods (kind of like a light saber, but way before that concept existed!). I let the plant in my yard grow and bloom because of the interesting leaves, stems, and branching pattern but I snip off the immature berry clusters to keep it from seeding and spreading. Others come up in my yard below trees where birds drop seeds but I just weed them out when they're small seedlings. After several years I got tired of it and just dug out the main roots. Problem solved but enjoyable memories.
by Anne
on August 27, 2018 at 8:11 AM
I have a large pokeweed plant in my dog yard and want to safely remove it without dropping seeds or doing anything else to help it spread. Can I safely cut stalks to get to root without worrying about toxic sap dripping on ground. I am a worrywort as you can tell and three time cancer survivor. Any help would be appreciated greatly.
Reply by Guy B Kyser
on August 27, 2018 at 9:31 AM
This isn't a super-toxic plant like poison hemlock, and I assume that soil microbes will break down any sap that lands on the ground. I don't think the plant has a smell that would attract dog interest. (Though I am sometimes amazed at what dogs will eat.)
by KC knebel
on September 26, 2018 at 4:21 PM
Is this dangerous to dogs. my dog went outside and rolled in it I wiped off his coat but he now has purple stains. I am worried now. If he picks it will be get sick.
by Allen Lee
on December 12, 2018 at 8:34 PM
Pretty common here in central NJ. Pop up in areas under large shrubs and border trees. I usually dig up the tubers after frost has killed back the foliage in late fall. Just dug up half dozen today.Dispose of with fall leaves.
by CHerm
on June 17, 2019 at 7:21 AM
Pokeweed is highly invasive. Each plant produces berries which, when eaten by birds, propagate the plant even further. This “native” crowds out other native species. Dig up the roots as much as you can; this isn’t hard, but it is vital to controlling the growth. Many times, the seeds to this plant lay dormant, and they are viable for up to forty years. Often, it they begin to resurface in recently disturbed ground (such as a construction site), and can seem to appear out of nowhere. Really, it could have been birds from four decades ago that did you the favor of dropping the seeds of this entiende plant for you to find when you make your own garden, move into a home, or just have the plain bad luck of being somewhere the plant has already taken over. If you like it, just be aware that your one plant can produce thousands of other seeds.
by Tonie
on July 25, 2019 at 8:26 AM
I found a new plant in my garden with huge and very beautiful leaves that I thought was pretty until I knew it was poisonous.  
thank you for the information
by Shirrley
on July 29, 2019 at 12:43 PM
I eat poke salad all summer. Cooked correct it is better than spinich.
by Estel
on August 18, 2019 at 6:40 PM
I hadn't been In my backyard for 2wks then I seen these everywhere..they were cute so I left it..not sure how long it was but these flowers were everywhere taller than me, and growing these now I find out that these berries I adore is a weed!! Now the name I came up with for this weed really fits..I'd ask friends if anyone liked berries they say what kind of berries ...I'd say DINGLE BERRIES...makes me laugh now...why are there so many cute weeds now..grass I've been trying to grow just found out it's a weed I'll be removing toxic plant though..thanks everyone..
by Joe Monte
on October 22, 2019 at 10:07 AM
Is it safe to burn Pokeweed after it dries out somewhat?Q
Reply by Guy B Kyser
on October 22, 2019 at 4:10 PM
The info on this is mixed. I wouldn't burn a huge pile of pokeweed & stand in the smoke... but a few pieces tossed into a burn should be OK.
by Beanie
on July 28, 2021 at 11:21 AM
Now I know what Elvis was singing about! “Poke Salad Annie, Gator ate your granny”  
I have one of these growing in my front flower bed amongst my cone flowers. I sprayed it with weed killer and now will dig up that monstrous root to prevent reemergence!! Thanks for the post!!
Leave a Reply:

You are currently not signed in. If you have an account, then sign in now!
Anonymous users messages may be delayed.

Security Code: