Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana_common pokeweed_JM DiTomaso
Photo courtesy Joseph DiTomaso

Synonyms: Phytolacca decandra L. in part.

Common names: common pokeweed; American cancer; American pokeweed; cancer jalap; coakum; garget; inkberry; pigeonberry; poke; poke sallet; pokeberry; pokeweed; red-ink plant; redweed; scoke; Virgina poke

Phytolacca americana (common pokeweed) is a tall perennial forb/herb (family Scrophulariaceae) that invades disturbed sites throughout most of California except the Great Basin and deserts. In the Southern U.S., specially prepared shoots and berries with the seeds removed are used in foods. However, all parts of the plant can be fatally toxic to humans and livestock.

Rating: Limited

Cal-IPC Resources

  • Plant Assessment Form - Information gathered by Cal-IPC on the impacts, rate of spread, and distribution of invasive plants in California. Does not include management information.
  • CalWeedMapper - Statewide maps, climate models, and reports.
  • Cal-IPC News - Our quarterly newsletter. Each issue is available as a pdf.
  • Cal-IPC Symposium Proceedings - Presentations and papers from our annual Symposium.
  • Don't Plant a Pest! - Select your region to find non-invasive alternatives to ornamental species. Also see our statewide brochure on trees.

    Other Resources

    • USDA PLANTS database -
      Federal database with information on identification and distribution, and links to websites in individual states.
    • Jepson Online Interchange for California Flora - Information on taxonomy, biology, and distribution from the UC Berkeley Jepson Herbarium.
    • CalFlora - Distribution information by county based on submitted observations and herbarium specimens.
    • CalPhotos - Images of plants taken mostly in California.

    Symposium Presentations

    • Antonio, C. D. and J. Gerlach (2003). Annual grasses: Status of biology and control. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2003. Kings Beach, CA.
    • Clines, J., J. DiTomaso, et al. (2004). Grasses working group. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2004. Ventura, CA.
    • Corbin, J. D., M. Thomsen, et al. (2004). Out of the frying pan: Invasion of exotic perennial grasses in coastal prairies. California Invasive Plant Council Symposium 2004. Ventura, CA.
    • Stafford, M., S. Farrell, et al. (2006). Control of Phalaris aquatica on lowland coastal terrace prairie in Richmond, CA. Cal-IPC Symposium. Rohnert Park, CA.
    • Thomsen, C. D., W. A. Williams, et al. (1996). Yellow starthistle management with grazing, mowing, and competitive plantings. California Exotic Pest Plant Council Symposium '96. San Diego, CA.

    Cal-IPC News Articles

    • None for this species.