Plant of Week 18: Pokeweed

Pokeweed, also called pokeberry or inkberry, is a hardy perennial that can grow up to 10 feet tall! It has red, woody stems, and dark red or purple berries. Though these berries might look tempting, keep your distance. All parts of the pokeweed plant are poisonous and will cause a dangerous bad reaction if eaten. While toxic to humans, pokeweed berries are a food source to over 30 different types of birds. You can also use the berries to make a beautiful pink dye to color wool and cloth.

Species: Phytolacca americana

HABITAT: Pokeweed is often found near the edges of forest, fields, and pastures where birds are nesting. It grows in most parts of the US and Canada.

IS IT EDIBLE?: Native Americans traditionally used pokeberry in medicine and food, but this must be done carefully to avoid reactions to the toxic berries. We do not recommend ingesting pokeweed.

IS IT MEDICINAL?: Though pokeweed is known to be poisonous, it has traditionally been used in natural medicine to treat skin diseases and joint pain. We do not recommend attempting to use pokeweed medicinally.

Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.