About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bright purple cluster of pokeweed berries on a pink stem

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a native Michigan perennial also found throughout the Northeast. I’ve always called the plant “pokeberry” because of the late summer cluster of pretty, purple berries it produces.

The berries are full of a bright red staining liquid. The name comes from an Indian word "pokan" which means any plant used to produce a red or yellow dye.

Not normally sold in greenhouses, pokeweed is usually spread when a bird eats the berries and poops the seeds. The seeds are toxic to humans but it attracts many songbirds, woodpeckers, waxwings, cardinals, bluebirds, robins, doves and more.

Scientists are also looking at the pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) immunotoxin, a natural product in the pokeweed plant, as a cure for childhood leukemia.


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