Phytolacca americana

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Plant Specifics

Size:6-10 ft tall by 5-8 ft wide
Life Span:Short-lived perennial
Flower Color:White
Fruit Color:Black
Phenology:Winter dormant
Noted for:Showy flowers, Showy fruits


Recommended Uses:Interesting red stems. Makes a good specimen plant in an informal garden. Weedy in appearance if in large numbers.
Considerations:The roots and seeds are poisonous.
Propagation:Once you have one, others will follow from seed. It can also be transplanted from root stock.
Light: Full Sun
Moisture Tolerance:
always floodedextremely dry
 (Somewhat moist, no flooding ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods)
Moisture Tolerance: Somewhat moist, no flooding ----- to ----- Very long very dry periods
Salt Water Flooding Tolerance:Not salt tolerant of inundation by salty or brackish water.
Salt Spray/ Salty Soil Tolerance:Moderate. Tolerant of salty wind and may get some salt spray. Exposure to salt spray would be uncommon (major storms).
Soil or other substrate:Loam, Sand
Soil pH:



Birds eat the berries.


Attracts bees including Augochlora pura, Augochloropsis metallica, A. sumptuosa, Dialictus miniatulus, D. nymphalis, D. placidensis, D. tegularis, Evylaeus pectoralis and Bombus impatiens (Deyrup et al. 2002).

Native Habitats:Flatwoods, disturbed areas.

Distribution and Planting Zones

Natural Range in Florida
USDA Zones

Suitable to grow in:
10A 10B 11 8A 8B 9A 9B 

USDA zones are based on minimum winter temperatures


Ethnobotany:Young foliage is eaten, and some people plant seed just to get the young foliage. But beware, older foliage and the roots and seed are poisonous. Beware, unless boiled with multiple water changes, even the young leaves could be poisonous. These greens have been called poke sallet, an old English term for cooked greens--not "poke salad." Native Americans used the bright crimson juice to stain feathers, arrow shafts, and garments, and to decorate their horses. The United States Declaration of Independence was written in pokeberry juice.
General Comments:Interesting red stems. Makes a good specimen plant in an informal garden. Weedy in appearance if in large numbers and stems tend to split when branches get too heavy or in high winds.