WSU Clark County Extension

PNW Plants Searchable, categorized images


Scientific name: Phytolacca americana

Type:Herbaceous perennials
Plant Requirements
Zone:2 to 11
Sun:Full to partial sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:10 ft
Width:3 ft
Bloom:Summer flowers
Bloom Time:June to July
Bloom Color:Green
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Pokeweed, also known as poke,is a handsome shrub-like herbaceous perennial that is at home in the naturalized or open woodland garden. If allowed to escape, gardeners may also consider this species a weed.

Pokeweed can grow quickly to a height of up to 10’ in one year, and spread to 3’. The central stem bears egg-shaped leaves (classified as lanceolate to ovate) which can range from 6”-12” in length. Leaves are arranged alternately, and feature pointed ends and crinkled edges. The stems of pokeweed are reddish in color. In the fall the entire plant dies back to the ground-line. The root system resembles a carrot-like taproot.

Pokeweed blooms during the summer, sending out greenish-white flowers set on long clusters (racemes). By late summer berries have begun to form. At first these are green but with time change to the easliy indentifiable purplish-black color. The quarter-inch berries, which ripen in the autumn, are very popular with migrating songbirds such as robins, doves and towhees. The berries and the roots of pokeweed are highly poisonous to humans. Native Americans on the east coast of the United States used a dye from the berries as a red ink.

The species does well in either full sun or partial shade. It can be grown on wide range of soil types. While it can survive without water, it does best when irrigated during the summer.

People have been know to consume the young shoots of developing pokeweed in the spring when they are 6”-8” tall and are still green. These shoots can be eaten like spinach only if they been boiled for 20-30 minutes in two or more changes of water.

None reported.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234