Phytolacca americana Linnaeus, 1753
Common names: (American) Pokeweed, Garnet, Pigeon Berry [En], Raisin d’Amérique, Teinturier [Fr], Westerse karmozijnbes [Nl], Amerikanische Kermesbeere [De], Cremesina uva turca [It], Hierba carmine [Es], Φυτολάκκα η αμερικανική [Gr], Şekerci boyası [Tu]
Livadia, SERRES ● Greece
Description: Herbaceous perennial plant, that is large, growing up to 2 meters in height. One to several branches grow from the crown of a thick, white, fleshy taproot, each a stout, smooth, green to somewhat purplish stem; with simple, entire leaves with long petioles alternately arranged along the stem.
The leaves are entire, alternate, medium green, smooth with coarse texture and moderate porosity.
The flowers develop in elongated clusters termed racemes. The flowers have 5 regular parts with upright stamens and are up to 5 mm wide. They have white petal-like sepals without true petals, on white pedicels and peduncles in an upright or drooping raceme, which darken as the plant fruits.
The fruits are shiny dark purple berries held in racemose clusters on pink pedicels with a pink peduncle. Pedicels without berries have a distinctive rounded five part calyx. Fruits are round with a flat indented top and bottom. Immature berries are green, turning white and then blackish purple.
The root is a thick central taproot which grows deep and spreads horizontally.
which are a food source for songbirds such as gray catbird, northern mockingbird, northern cardinal, and brown thrasher, as well as other birds and some small animals (i.e., to species that are unaffected by its mammalian toxins).
Biology: Pokeweeds reproduce only by their seeds which have a long viability and can germinate after many years in the soil.
Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into early fall. Plant dies back to roots each winter.
Habitat: Damp rich soils in clearings, woodland margins and roadsides, disturbed areas, pastures, clearings, thickets, woodland borders and roadsides from sea level to 1400 metres.
Distribution: Pokeweed is native to eastern North America, the Midwest, and the Gulf Coast, with more scattered populations in the far West. It is naturalized in parts of Europe, Western and Eastern Asia, South Africa and New Zeeland.
Caution: All parts of the plant are toxic and pose risks to human and mammalian health. In summary, the poisonous principles are found in highest concentrations in the rootstock, then in leaves and stems and then in the ripe fruit. The plant generally gets more toxic with maturity, with the exception of the berries (which have significant toxicity even while green). Birds are apparently immune to this poison. The plant is not palatable to animals and is avoided unless little else is available, or if it is in contaminated hay, but horses, sheep and cattle have been poisoned by eating fresh leaves or green fodder, and pigs have been poisoned by eating the roots.
The plant sap can cause dermatitis in sensitive people. It is strongly recommended that the people wear gloves when handling the plant.
Wikipedia, Phytolacca americana
Plants For A Future