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American pokeweed
Phytolacca americana

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

General Landscape Uses: Can be used in natural landscapes and for habitat restorations but can be very weedy and difficult to control.

Ecological Restoration Notes: Although short-lived and somewhat untidy, pokeweed can be useful as temporary canopy in hammock restoration projects.

Availability: Grown by enthusiasts.

Description: Medium to large shrub-like herb with purplish red stems.

Dimensions: About 4-8 feet in height or sometimes more. Often as broad as tall.

Growth Rate: Fast.

Range: Widespread in North America (including Mexico) south to the Monroe County Keys; introduced and escaped elsewhere. Very rare in the Monroe County Keys and perhaps absent south of Key Largo.

Plant Map Map of select IRC data from peninsular Florida.

Habitats: Forests and disturbed sites.

Soils: Moist, well-drained sandy or limestone soils, with humusy top layer.

Nutritional Requirements: Moderate; can grow in nutrient poor soils, but needs some organic content to thrive.

Salt Water Tolerance: Low; does not tolerate long-term flooding by salt or brackish water.

Salt Wind Tolerance: High; can tolerate moderate amounts of salt wind without significant injury.

Drought Tolerance: High; does not require any supplemental water once established.

Light Requirements: Full sun.

Flower Color: Pink to white with a green center.

Flower Characteristics: Semi-showy racemes.

Flowering Season: All year.

Fruit: Juicy purple berry.

Wildlife and Ecology: A major colonizer of disturbed sites and tree fall gaps. Provides food for birds.

Horticultural Notes: Can be grwon from de-pulped seed.

References: Hammer 2004

Comments: It recruits readily from seed in the garden. The young shoots are edible when properly cooked, but otherwise the plant can be deadly if eaten.

Copyright by: Roger L. Hammer

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Shirley Denton

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Copyright by: Keith A. Bradley

Other data on Phytolacca americana available from:

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