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Pokeweed

By: Garden Gate staff
You can identify this perennial weed by its coarse, purplish stems and large, glossy leaves with maroon veins on the undersides.

Pokeweed

pest watch

Pokeweed Phytolacca americana

IDENTIFICATION — You can identify this perennial weed by its coarse, purplish stems and large, glossy leaves with maroon veins on the undersides. Pokeweed grows 4 to 10 ft. tall with drooping, grapelike clusters of tiny white flowers starting in midsummer. They’re followed by dark-purple berries, each one containing about 10 seeds that can remain viable for 40 years.

FAVORITE CONDITIONS – Look for pokeweed growing along fences or the edge of woodlands. You’ll rarely find it in newly tilled gardens.

CONTROL – Pokeweed’s roots, stems and leaves are poisonous to humans.Contact with this plant’s sap can cause dermatitis, so always wear gloves when handling any part of it. Because it’s perennial, chopping off the main stem at ground level won’t kill this pest, but it will prevent seed formation. It’s better to dig the taproot and let it dry in the sun to make sure it’s completely dead. Glyphosate herbicides are most effective on pokeweed because they’ll kill the top and roots completely.

Published: Aug. 7, 2007
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