Also Known As: Pokeroot, Pokeweed, Pokebush, Pokeberry, Poke sallet
Phytolacca is a genus of perennial plants native to North America, South America, East Asia and New Zealand. Some members of the genus are known as pokeweeds or similar names such as pokebush, pokeberry, pokeroot or poke sallet. Other names for species of Phytolacca include inkberry and ombÃº. The generic name is derived from the Greek word ÏÏ ÏÏÎ½ (phyton), meaning "plant," and the Latin word lacca, a red dye.Phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin are present in many species which are poisonous to mammals. However, the berries are eaten by birds, which are not affected by the toxin because the small seeds with very hard outer shells remain intact in the digestive system and are eliminated whole.
The genus comprises about 25 species of perennial herbs, shrubs, and trees growing from 1 to 25 m (3.3 to 82 ft) tall. They have alternate simple leaves, pointed at the end, with entire or crinkled margins; the leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen. The stems are green, pink or red. The flowers are greenish-white to pink, produced in long racemes at the ends of the stems. They develop into globose berries 4â12 mm diameter, green at first, ripening dark purple to black.