Wildflower ID: Red stalk, large avocado type leaves

ncsteele(Zone 5 Iowa)September 8, 2005

In the wooded ravine behind my house, I have come across a wildflower that I cannot find in my field guide. It is about 3 ft tall, has a deep red stalk and ~6 inch leaves that look much like an avocado leaf. The plant flowered a few weeks ago, and now has dark purple fruit clusters much like grapes, but about the size of a pea. (I do not remember the color of the flowers)

I have a photo of the plant, but don't know how to add images to a post.

Any ideas on the ID of this plant?

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rootwad(z5 Ozarks)

Sounds like American Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 1:27PM
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Sounds like Phytolacca americana to me, too. A common weed in open disturbed areas; in woods I've only seen it fairly sparsely in ravines...

Patrick Alexander

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 3:01PM
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i third that vote.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 8:13PM
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garden4wildlife(z8 GA)

And I'll fourth it. It's extremely common here anywhere birds perch...because birds love the berries and the seeds go right through birds' digestive tracts. Leave the pokeweed in your yard and the birds will love you! Dozens of species of birds relish the berries. Pokeweed is also a host plant for some interesting-looking caterpillars. And personally, I think it's a rather pretty plant over all, with the little white flowers followed by dark, glossy berries, the bright red stems, the large leaves, and the umbrella-like shape it takes as it gets larger. It's really a great wildlife plant all around, but most people don't let it stay in their yards because it's poisonous and the berries provide the birds with purple "ammunition." I leave it in my yard when it comes up because it's such a great wildlife plant and attracts so many birds, but I only leave it for one year. It can get huge if you let it come back year after year, so I pull it at the end of its first year (it's extremely easy to pull, even when it gets three or four feet tall); the birds will inevitably plant more for the next year. I'm providing a link to a page about pokeweed written by The Hilton Pond Center, which has a lot of info about plants and animals found in the Piedmont region of the southeast.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pokeweed

    Bookmark   September 9, 2005 at 2:41PM
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ncsteele(Zone 5 Iowa)

That is exactly what I have. Thank you to all who responded. It was such an unusual plant with its red stalk and berries. The few that I have in my yard grow on the edge of the ravine which has western exposure.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2005 at 10:34PM
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