Polk Weed Phytolacca americana L.
I saw this plant while chasing butterflies, so I grabbed a few quick photos and ran off after a butterfly. I posted a thumbnail with no ID, and Tony O was kind enough to email me:

"This looks like Polk weed to me. We cook it for greens here every spring. The ripe Polk berries (Seeds) sometimes called ink berries, turn purple when ripe. Birds love them, but don't eat them, as they are poison to people. They were used as ink to write with years ago. The native American Indians used them as one of the things to color their clothes, tents etc. with. I hope this helped some.

I have a friend in N.J. that has variegated Polk plants. Do butterflies have any use for that plant?"

Pokeweed Berries
No Tony, I haven't seen a butterfly use it, but this plant isn't in my yard so I don't see it often. In fact, after you identified it as Polk Weed, I went back to take more pictures but the Brazilian Pepper had grown out over where it was, and the Rosary Pea had grown so much I had to pull it off the Polk Weed to photograph it. I'll keep an eye on it to see if any butterfly uses it, but nothing yet...
I looked up Polk Weed after your email because I'm curious about local edible plants, but this one is a bit too scary for me to try. Apparently you have to prepare it VERY carefully, and only eat the small young leaves, or you poison yourself.
Polk Weed, Phytolacca americana
Pokeweed berries
I've seen this plant called Pokeweed & Polk Weed. When I looked it up I came up with Phytolacca americana L. and Phytolacca decandra, so I went to the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants to try to figure out which one I had. They list several names, including decandra, as synonyms of americana.

On the bright side, they list it as a Florida Native plant. So many of the neat plants that I find aren't that it's refreshing to find one that is. I considered bringing seeds home, but first I want to find out what's chewing it up; the leaves look like Swiss cheese.

Pokeweed, Phytolacca decandra
Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana
Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana
Pokeweed, Phytolacca decandra
Site Map:
Diving, Wading & Wetland Birds
Warblers & Little Birds
More Birds
Snakes, Lizards, and Slithery Critters
Squishy Bugs
Crunchy Bugs
More Creatures
Butterfly Nectar Plants
Butterfly & Moth Host Plants
Wetland plants
Lawn Weeds
Other Plants & Fungi
Shrub, Bush & Tree Sized Plants
Paper Folding: Origami Bird, Egg, and Nest
Paper Quilling: Snowflake Ornaments
Cut Paper Snowflakes
Butterfly Garden Basics
My Email, Image Use Information, Credits & Disclaimer
Index of everything that didn't fit on one of the other main pages
Privacy Policy