Phytolacca americana var. americana
Family: Phytolaccaceae
Phytolacca americana var. americana image
Racemes divergent or usually drooping, (10-)12-30 cm (ex-cluding peduncles). Pedicels longer than 6 mm in fruit, longer than berries. Flowering year-round south-ward, spring-fall northward. Disturbed areas, pastures, clearings, thickets, woodland borders, roadsides; 0-1400 m; N.B., Ont., Que.; Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.; introduced in Europe.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
This plant is found throughout the state in almost all kinds of soils and habitats. Its abundance is due to birds that scatter the seed everywhere, to its ability to adapt itself to all kinds of soils, and to the fact that grazing animals do not molest it. I have seen it only a few times in a thick stand over any considerable area. I once found a sandy, white oak clearing of about ten acres which had grown up thickly with this species after it had been grazed by hogs until the mineral soil had been exposed all over the area. In old orchards and forest plantings that have been heavily grazed by hogs, it is usually a common weed. It prefers a rich, moist soil. The largest specimens I ever saw were in a muck soil in a marsh that had just passed into the soft maple stage. The plants grew here 6-8 feet high and were wide spreading and I estimated that a single plant would produce not less than a gallon of berries. I mention this fact because I believe that in due time the fruit of this species will be of horticultural importance. Although the berries have an objectionable bitter flavor, they are not poisonous as some people think. The root, however, is poisonous. All my life I have been tasting the berries to find one that lacked the characteristic flavor, but without success. About 60 years ago I recall that a hotel keeper came to our woods to gather pokeberries and elderberries which he canned and used about half and half for making pies. If the pokeberries alone are used, some vinegar should be added. They make a very rich looking and palatable pastry. I recall eating them in pies when I was a boy. The dried berries macerated with whiskey were formerly used for rheumatism.


Indiana Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 0

Wetland Indicator Status: FACU