In the Grow

Pokeweed is on the low end of the toxicity scale

November 4, 2020

Q: I have a lot of these plants growing in the field near my home. Can you identify this plant for me?  And is it poisonous? I have horses and am concerned that this could make them sick.

close up on leaves and fruit of pokeweed

A: This is a very common weed called pokeweed. It is native to much of Eastern North America, including Indiana. All parts of the pokeweed plant are poisonous, especially roots and seeds, but its toxicity is generally considered to be low.

Pokeweed can reach up to 10 feet tall and has distinctly red stems and berries that change from green to dark purple when ripe. It is perennial from a large tap root, dying back to the ground each year. Birds love the fruit and then spread the seed everywhere in their droppings. So pokeweed can show up in many new places each year.

For more information on pokeweed and its toxicity, see Purdue Extension’s Guide to Toxic Plants in Forages.