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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Friday - July 10, 2009

From: Peoria, IL
Region: Midwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Plant identification from Peoria IL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I removed a plant from our workplace that employees were afraid was hallucinogenic seeds. Central Illinois. Very purple stem. Purple flowers. Black seeds. Any ideas?


Usually, it is a difficult (if not impossible) task to identify a plant by description alone, but Mr. Smarty Plants is pretty sure you are describing Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed).  it is a pretty distinctive plant and certainly gets your attention with its red stem and large bunches of berries.  Birds love the berries, by the way.  If it turns out that this isn't your plant, please send us photos and we will do our best to identify it.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page for instructions on submitting photos.

POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, mainly the roots; shoots, leaves, and berries when fresh and in quantity. Highly toxic, may be fatal if eaten. Toxic Principle: Phytolaccatoxin and related triterpene saponins, an alkaloid (phytolaccin), and histamines.

Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana




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