• AGM plants

    AGM plants have been through a rigorous trial and assessment programme. They are:

    • Excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
    • Available to buy
    • Of good constitution
    • Essentially stable in form & colour
    • Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases

Phytolacca americana

American pokeweed

  • Other common names American pokeweed
    American nightshade

    cancer jalap
    chon grass
    crimson-berry plant
    dyer's grapes
    pigeon berry
    poke root
    poke salad
    red ink plant
    red weed
    Virginian poke
    Virginian pokeweed

    see more
  • Synonyms Phytolacca decandra

  • Family Phytolaccaceae

  • Genus Phytolacca are herbaceous perennials, shrubs or trees, with simple leaves, small flowers in erect or drooping spike-like racemes are followed by glossy, fleshy fruits

  • Details P. americana is an upright herbaceous perennial with oval or lance-shaped mid-green leaves, tinged with purple in autumn. White-pink flowers appear in racemes from mid-summer to early autumn, followed by crimson-black berries in autumn

  • Plant range USA


  • Foliage Deciduous

  • Habit Columnar/Upright

  • Toxicity Contact with the sap may irritate skin, all parts may cause a severe reaction if ingested, and the fruit is highly toxic. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling

  • Hardiness

    Hardiness ratings

    All ratings refer to the UK growing conditions unless otherwise stated. Minimum temperature ranges (in degrees C) are shown in brackets

    • H1a - Under glass all year (>15C)
    • H1b - Can be grown outside in the summer (10 - 15)
    • H1c - Can be grown outside in the summer (5 - 10)
    • H2 - Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen (1 to 5)
    • H3 - Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK (-5 to 1)
    • H4 - Hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5)
    • H5 - Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters (-15 to -10)
    • H6 - Hardy in all of UK and northern Europe (-20 to -15)
    • H7 - Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20)




  • Full Sun

  • Partial Shade

  • Aspect South-facing or West-facing or East-facing

  • Exposure Sheltered


  • Clay


  • Loam


  • MoistureMoist but well-drained

  • SoilClay, Loam

  • pHAcid, Alkaline, Neutral


  • Ultimate height 2.5-4 metres

  • Ultimate spread 1-1.5 metres

  • Time to ultimate height 2-5 years

How to grow

Cultivation Grow in any fertile moist soil in sun or partial shade

Propagation Propagate by seed in early spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types Cottage & Informal Garden

How to care

Pruning No pruning required

Pests Generally pest-free

Diseases May be prone to virus diseases

Did you find the information you were looking for?

RHS members can get exclusive individual advice from the RHS Gardening Advice team.

Join the RHS now

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.