Plant Base Online (beta)
common name: Pokeweed, Coakum, Pigeon Berry, Pocan Bush
synonyms: Phytolacca decandra
red & green
poisonous or irritant
full sun, part shade
dry soil, moist soil, clay soil, sandy soil
preferred soil pH: any
minimum temp: -25°C
USDA zone: 4 to 11
Large fast growing perennial, sometimes becoming almost shrub-like. Large, smooth, alternate, lanceolate leaves up to 30cm long. Strongly tinted stems, especially towards the end of the season. Spikes of small white flowers, followed by drooping clusters of black-purple berries.
Adaptable to a range of conditions, but prefers moist, well drained reasonably fertile soil. Will survive in poor, dry sandy soils. Grows much faster in warm temperatures. Young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts.
From seed. Division is also possible by cutting through the rootstock.
Unusual, fast growing plant for mixed borders.
Used as a medicinal herb by the Native North Americans, particularly to treat mumps, tonsillitis and swollen glands. Young shoots are also apparently edible when cooked.
The berries have been used to make a red dye.
Native to much of North America and naturalized in other regions, such as the south-west coast of France and occasionally in Britain.
All parts are dangerously toxic and my cause skin irritation.
pronounced: fy-toh-LAK-uh a-mer-ih-KAH-na