Phytolacca americana, American Pokeweed

Historical Uses:

The Cherokee Nation was reported to take infusions of berries to treat arthritis, roots and berries or berry wine were taken for rheumatism, and cooked greens were eaten to build the blood. They were also known to treat eczema and skin sores with poultices and salves. Cold infusions of powdered root were taken for kidney issues. Peeled stalks were also processed by boiling, dipping in egg, rolled in corn meal, and eaten like fish.

The Delaware Nation was reported to roast crushed roots with sarsaparilla and mountain grape barks for rheumatism, to purify the blood, as well as a stimulant. Roasted roots were also used in salves to treat chronic sores and glandular swellings.

The Iroquois Nation also treated rheumatism by cooking and eating the stalks. Leaves were processed and used as a cathartic. Decoctions of stems were used to treat chest colds.

The Kiowa Nation dried fruits and included the resulting dark, dry berries in jewelry.

The Pawnee Nation was reported to make a red stain from the fruit to paint horses and various articles of adornment.

The Seminole Nation was reported to eat the berries as an analgesic and to treat rheumatism.

For a full list of recorded uses, click here



  • Listing ID: 3998
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Soil Moisture: 1-5 (dry to wet): 3-4
  • Stratification: TBD
  • Bloom Time: June-August
  • Family: Phytolaceae
  • Sunlight Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
  • Latin Name: Phytolacca americana
  • Common Name: American Pokweed
  • Eco-Region: 251