Don’t Get Poked By Pokeweed

Plant Expert Gives Information About Avoiding Perennial


Pokeweed is a poisonous perennial plant that grows in Wisconsin and a native plant expert warns people to steer clear.

Pokeweed has green leaves, a purple stem, green to white flowers, purple to black berries and a large white taproot. Susan Carpenter, a native plant gardener at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, said that Wisconsinites should know a little more about this potentially dangerous plan.

“It has a very attractive-looking purple berries and each stalk of berries is about 6 inches long and there are many of them over the plant as those berries mature, or they turn a dark purple,” she said. “And people often think that they would be a good berry to eat or make jam. And the answer to that is absolutely not.”

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Here’s what you need to know:

  • All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the root.
  • It’s particularly unsafe to eat, but you should also use protective gloves when handling because chemicals can pass through the skin and affect the blood.
  • It’s also poisonous to cats and dogs. If ingested, common signs to watch for are drooling, vomiting, lack of appetite and diarrhea.
Pokeweed plant up close with white/green flowers
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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