American nightshade poisoning; Inkberry poisoning; Pigeon Berry poisoning; Pokeberry poisoning; Scoke poisoning; Virginia poke poisoning; Poke salad poisoning
Pokeweed is a flowering plant. Pokeweed poisoning occurs when someone eats pieces of this plant.
This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call the local emergency number (such as 911), or the local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.
Poisonous ingredients include:
The highest amounts of poison are found in the roots, leaves, and stems. Small amounts are in the fruit.
Cooked berries and leaves (cooked twice in separate water) can technically be eaten. However, this is not recommended because there is no guarantee that they are safe. The roots should never be eaten.
Symptoms most often appear within 6 hours of ingestion.
Symptoms may include:
Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care provider.
Get the following information:
Your local poison control center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.
This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does not need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The provider will measure and monitor person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:
How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.
Deaths have been reported. Improper cooking of leaves or eating some of the roots with the leaves can cause serious poisoning. Eating more than 10 uncooked berries can cause serious problems in children.
DO NOT touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.
Aronson JK. Phytolaccaceae. In: Aronson JK, ed. Meyler's Side Effects of Drugs. 16th ed. Waltham, MA: Elsevier B.V.; 2016:758-758.
Auerbach PS. Wild plant and mushroom poisoning. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Medicine for the Outdoors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:374-404.
Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, Cushing TA, Harris NS, eds. Auerbach's Wilderness Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 65.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/13/2021
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Health Content Provider
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2022 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.