American Pokeweed, Inkberry, Pokeberry, Poke, Polk Salad, Pigeonberry
(Phytolacca americana var. americana)
Synonyms of Phytolacca americana: (3) (Updated on 5-21-21 from Plants of the World Online): Phytolacca americana var. lancifolia H.Walter, Phytolacca decandra L., Phytolacca vulgaris Crantz
Phytolacca americana L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species. It was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. Phytolacca americana var. rigida (Small) D.B.Caulkins & R.E.Wyatt is the only accepted infraspecific name.
The genus, Phytolacca Tourn. ex L., was described by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. Supposedly, the genus was first named and described by Joseph Pitton de Tournefort but I didn’t see him mentioned in Mr. Linnaeus’s description (HERE).
Plants of the World Online lists 25 species in the Phytolacca genus (as of 5-21-21 when I last updated this page). It is a member of the plant family Phytolaccaceae with a total of 5 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
The above distribution map for Phytolacca americana is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada is similar and also includes the state of Washington.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I think everyone I know has probably experienced this plant in one way or another. It is unmistakable mainly because of its purple berries that leave a stain on fingers and clothing. When I see one growing I normally leave it alone because I think they are impressive plants. Even though they produce a large number of berries, they don’t become invasive. I have had one growing along the fence in the garden for many years and there is always just one or two plants. The plant in the photo at the top of the page was growing along the lagoon in 2019 and it was HUGE. Probably the biggest I have ever seen. The one in the above photo came up next to a pile of posts and another one was along the fence about 12 feet away.
I apologize for not writing descriptions at the moment, but I have A LOT of wildflower pages to make and publish before I start getting too busy. I update this site and add new pages over the winter but I didn’t get finished. SO, I decided to just make the page with photos and links to other sites for better plant ID. I will be taking more photos over the summer and posting but I will also be working on these pages as I have time.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
USDA FOREST SERVICE
UC WEED SCIENCE
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂