Toxic shrub reported in South West

Staff reportersCountryman
Pokeweed has been located in the South West, near Balingup.
Camera IconPokeweed has been located in the South West, near Balingup. Credit: Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development

An invasive and toxic shrub, harmful to livestock and native to the eastern United States, has been located in the South West.

Pokeweed, also known as Phytolacca americana, is an agricultural and environmental weed which is toxic to livestock and people.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development officials confirmed the weed had been found at several rural properties and along roadsides, near Balingup.

“Department officers are working with landholders to remove this weed and prevent it from establishing in Western Australia,” department invasive species manager Kay Bailey said.

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“Summer is the ideal time for identifying the plant, as it carries distinctive berries and it is important to remove the weed before seed set.

“Everyone can help protect WA from pokeweed, by being alert for the weed and reporting any unusual plants to the department.”

Pokeweed bares similarities to inkweed, a weed found throughout in the South West, but is taller with bigger leaves and with drooping berry stalks.

“It is a large, perennial shrub that grows up to 2.5m tall, with bright green leaves (up to 40cm long) on a smooth purplish stem,” Ms Bailey said.

“White to magenta flowers form in elongated clusters that hang from the branches.

“Deep purple to black berries form in summer and are the most distinctive characteristic of pokeweed.”

Birds can spread the weed by carrying the berries.

Pokeweed is found in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, but is not established in Western Australia.

The department encourages people who suspect they have seen pokeweed to report it.

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