Do you know what I am?   Photo by Donna Burrows_May2013
Do you know what I am? Photo by Donna Burrows, May 2013

The plant quiz posted in May included the picture above of the American Pokeweed, Pokeberry  Phytolacca Americana, in its late spring growth.

pokeweed_DBurrows_June2013 Now this native plant should be looking more like the picture above, and may be more recognizable in the summer  blooming form with small white to pink blossoms.   The very distinctive winter look has the black/purple berries on very red stems. This perennial can become quite large, reaching 12 feet and can be considered a weed.  Prior to the berries forming, very young leaves can be carefully cooked and eaten, but otherwise all parts are toxic, including the rootstock.  Early Native Americans had many medicinal uses.

The berries will attract such birds as our Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird and the Gray Catbird and Brown Thrasher.  It is deer resistant. The Giant Leopard Moth, Hypercompe scribonia. will use it for a host plant.