Phytolacca americana or American Pokeweed is known by many names, Phytolacca decandra, American Nightshade, Skoke, Virginian Pokeweed, Garget, Inkberry, Pokeberry, Poke Salad, Pokeweed, CoakumRed Weed, Virginian Poke, Red Ink Plant, Polk Salad, Poke Root, Pigeon Berry, Dyer’s Grapes, Crowberry, Crimson Berry Plant, Cokan, Cancer Jalap, or Chon Grass.
It is poisonous. It is a herbaceous perennial. It is native to North America. It belongs to the Phytolaccaeae family of plants. It is an upright plant. It grows to 2.5m or 8ft. It has oval-shaped medium green leaves that turn a tinge of reddish-purple in autumn. The stems could be green or reddish-purple.
The flowers are creamy-white with a slight hint of green. The flowers grow as racemes. Phytolacca americana flowering season is in mid-summer to autumn. It produces purplish-black berries after flowers are gone. Birds love the berries, such mockingbird or cardinal among others.
Though Phytolacca americana is poisonous to humans and pets and livestock. Some of the young shoots in spring are edible. They boil it. It turns poisonous as it matures. The young shoots were used in Appalachian food. Berries are toxic whether they are ripe or not.
Plant Phytolacca americana in moist and fertile soil. Grow it in the sun or partial shade. Propagate by seed in spring. It is generally pest-free. But it is prone to viruses. Phytolacca americana is used in Chinese medicine and it is called chuíxù shānglù 垂序商陸.
Also read about Phytolacca rugosa