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Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest

Pokeweed

  • Phytolacca americana
  • Poke, Poke salad

Forb

Summer coverBrood coverFood
Robust stem and spreading canopy

Plants are tall (more than 5 feet) with a robust stem and spreading canopy.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation


 

Dark purple berries

Each plant may produce hundreds of succulent, dark purple berries, relished by birds but poisonous to humans.


Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation

Reddish-purple stems and rather large leaves

The dense shade and open understory produced by pokeweed provide ideal summer thermal cover for bobwhites. Reddish-purple stems and rather large leaves are good identifiers of pokeweed before seed formation.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation

Description

Pokeweed is common throughout the Midwest, and its size and fruit draw attention. This plant of disturbed areas, fallow fields and woodland edges may grow 6-8 feet tall. Leaves are smooth, oblong and usually 6 to 8 inches in length, though they may grow up to 12 inches. Stems turn bright purple as the plant matures. Clusters of succulent, shiny purple berries, about 1/4 inch in diameter, occur at the tops of the plants.

Caution
The berries of this plant are poisonous to humans, as are the roots, stems and uncooked leaves.

Bloom period

May to October

Use by bobwhites

Like many other birds, bobwhites are fond of pokeweed berries. Maturing in the summer, they may feed juvenile quail as well as adults. Where several plants grow in a cluster, the shade produces summer thermal cover for quail.


 

 

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MP903 Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest | Page 41 | University of Missouri Extension