En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - August 20, 2010

From: Shelby, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant identification, possibly Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a patch of plants I can't find what they are, could you help? The plant is a tuber (resembles a carrot when it is small), the stalk is red and fibrous, comes back each year bigger, has green leaves and multiple clusters of black, round berries. I am from the west coast and have never seen it. I don't see it in any of the other yards around our property. It appears to spread. The size of the roots on the older plants are very large. What is it and is it poisonous? Thanks

ANSWER:

This sounds a bit like Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed).  If it is American pokeweed, then yes, it is poisonous in some stages, but it is also can be eaten with care after preparation.  You can read more about its medicinal and toxic properties here.  Below are some photos of it.  If this doesn't appear to be your plant, please send us photos of it and we will do our best to identify it.  Here are the instructions for submitting photos or you can read them on Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page:

1.  Tell us where and when you found the plant and describe the site where it occurred.
2.  If possible, take several high-resolution images including details of leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and the overall plant.
3.  Save images in JPEG format. Do not reduce the resolution of your images. High-resolution images are much easier for us to work with.
4.  Send email with images attached to id@smartyplants.org. Please enter Plant ID Request on the subject line of your email.

 

Photos of American pokeweed from our Image Gallery:


Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana

 

 

More Plant Identification Questions

Ripe fruit of Melothria pendula (Guadaloupe cucumber)
July 22, 2014 - I see the pictures of the guadualupe cucumber plant. The fruit is still green. When it matures does it look like a small tomato? I have noticed the vine when the fruit is ripe. This is in McLennan C...
view the full question and answer

Identity of the mass fields of yellow flowers in North Texas
March 23, 2012 - Are the mass fields of yellow flowers we are seeing in north Texas now likely to be Indian Mustard (brassica juncea) or Charlock (brassica kaber or sinapis arvensis)? We are teaching a wildflower ide...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant in Florida with red fruit like a small tomato
September 03, 2012 - It looks like a small tomato but it isn't. It has a bunch of flakey seeds on the inside, which are a light brown in color. The outside is red, and I think it starts out growing green and also white....
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification from Honolulu HI
April 24, 2014 - We have a ground cover in our Honolulu garden that I have been told is Watermelon Plant. (Not the fruit). We would like more, but cannot find it or the proper name for it. Aprox. 6" round leaf. It...
view the full question and answer

Want to identify thorny vines growing in Charlotte Hall, MD
April 25, 2013 - I have vines with thorns growing in my wood, vining around the trees and killing them. It grows and vines go up trees of any height all the way to the top. It has green pointy leaves. If it doesn't...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center