How To Get Rid Of Pokeweed In 6 Simple Steps

How To Get Rid Of Pokeweed In 6 Simple Steps

Pokeweed can be found throughout North America, but is most commonly seen in the Midwest. It has a long taproot that grows up to 30 inches deep.

This makes it easy for the plant to spread its roots around your lawn or garden by underground rhizomes.

The seeds from this plant are also very prolific. They can produce over 50,000 seeds per year. If you have an area where these plants are growing, they will easily take over your yard.You can remove them using herbicides.

However, many people don’t want to use chemicals on their property because they believe it may harm the environment.

In some cases, the only solution is to dig up the entire plant. You can then burn the root, which kills the plant. Unfortunately, if you wait too long, the whole thing could come back.

Weed control specialists recommend digging up all pokeweed before spring thaws begin.If you’re looking for more information about weed removal, click here!

If you have a pokeweed problem that you would like to get rid of, you’re in the right place! Here, we will be going through how you can get rid of this plant.

Before that, though, we will need to learn a little about it! Once we understand this plant and how it works, we can start looking at how to rid ourselves of the issue. Ready to get into it?

What Is Pokeweed?

Pokeweed is one of the biggest weeds in North America. It is a perennial plant that spreads via underground stems called rhizomes.

Like many plants, pokeweed have rhizomes that stay beneath the soil. These underground stems grow strong enough to allow the plant to survive even when there isn’t much sunlight.

Pokeweed is native to the United States. In fact, it was first discovered in Pennsylvania. Today, however, it has been spotted as far north as Minnesota and Canada.

This plant produces thousands of seeds each year. The plant will produce small white flowers that will become purple fruits. These fruits are actually berries with multiple seeds inside. When the seeds germinate, they become new plants.

Why Is Pokeweed Such A Problem?

Because pokeweed can grow so quickly, it can overtake a lot of land. It takes over fields and pastures. It can even take over grassy areas near roads. Not only does it cover up nice green spaces, but it can cause problems with farming.

The seeds from the plant are extremely hardy. They can survive harsh weather, such as icy conditions and drought. In fact, they can withstand temperatures down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit.

Their ability to survive such harsh conditions makes them incredibly difficult to kill off.


Pokeweed is considered to be a poisonous plant. Because of this, it’s not recommended to eat any part of the plant. There is a risk that eating it could make you sick.

Even worse, children younger than 5 years old should not play in areas where the plant is present. Even touching pokeweed is not recommended as it can cause rashes.

While pokeweed doesn’t look dangerous, it can still pose a threat to pets. Dogs especially love to chew on things. As such, they might find themselves chewing on pokeweed.

Although dogs won’t necessarily ingest it, they could accidentally swallow it. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.

Pets aren’t the only ones who can be affected by pokeweed. If an animal eats it, it can also lead to death.

Horses can experience similar symptoms after consuming pokeweed. While this may seem strange, horses do sometimes eat pokeweed because it looks tasty.

Side Effects

The side effects of pokeweed include:

  • Skin irritation
  • An upset stomach
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe headache

If you or your pet experiences any of these symptoms, then contact a doctor or vet immediately. You don’t want to wait too long before seeking medical help.

There are some ways that you can prevent pokeweed from taking over your property. First, you should try to keep it away from your home garden. Pokeweed tends to thrive in moist environments.

However, if you use mulch around your house, then you’ll reduce the amount of moisture available to the plant. If you already have pokeweed in the area, you should consider finding a way to get rid of it.

We will be going through two methods you can use to get rid of pokeweed farther down.


Despite its hazard, pokeweed does have some uses. It has been used as red food coloring and even for wine coloring. Sometimes this plant is even used to create dye and ink.

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Moreover, it’s even thought to have some medicinal properties when used correctly.

Pokeweed has been used to treat achy joints and muscles, swelling, skin infections, tenderness, and a number of other conditions. However, it should be noted that there is actually no good evidence to support this.

Rather, this plant has been used in cases that have not been properly studied. Because of this, it is never recommended to try to use this plant for medical purposes. Trying to use this plant would likely do more harm than good.

Getting Rid Of Pokeweed

Getting Rid of Pokeweed

If you’ve found pokeweed in your yard or around your property, there’s a very good chance that you will want to get rid of it.

Unfortunately, though, if you try to remove it yourself, then it’s possible that you’ll just end up spreading it further. You might want to call in a professional if you do not think you are equipped to deal with the issue.

There are several ways to get rid of pokeweed effectively. Most of these methods involve using herbicides. Herbicides work by killing unwanted plants, including pokeweed.

Therefore, before you start using one of these products, know what kind of results you’re looking at. Also, you should consider if you want to use herbicides at all.

There are other ways of removing this problem plant, but they require some elbow grease. 

Equipment Needed

 Below is a list of things you may need if you are planning on getting rid of the pokeweed on your property. There will be two separate lists for the two methods you can use on this plant.

Equipment list to get rid of pokeweed by hand:

  • Protective gloves
  • Garden rake
  • Garden cart
  • Garden fork
  • Soil screen
  • Tarp sheet
  • Garden shovel

Equipment list to get rid of pokeweed via use of herbicide:

  • Protective gloves
  • Herbicide of choice

Method 1 – By Hand

The hand method is not a quick fix, and it can be hard work. This is the method we would recommend if you are able to do it, since it doesn’t involve the use of herbicides. We will go through what you will need to do below:

First Step

You will first need to get your protective gloves and get them on. Once they are on, you will need to start pulling out the smaller shoots situated around the base of the main plant.

These are the shoots that will eventually become new plants. When you pull these off, make sure to put them into a bag or container.

Second Step

Next, you will need to begin digging up the entire root system of the plant. The reason this step needs to be done is that once you dig it up, you will never be able to grow another plant from the same roots.

This means that any future plants that come up along the same line as the original plant will also die. Make sure that when you dig up the roots, you don’t damage the roots from nearby plants.

Make sure that you get all the roots from the pokeweed, or else it will regrow from the rhizomes.

Third Step

After you have dug up the whole root system, you will have to cut the dead wood from each stump.

It is important to keep track of how many stumps you have removed because this will determine how much time you will spend doing the rest of the job.

Place the pieces of pokeweed on the tarp to allow them to dry out. Only when the plant has dried out completely and looks withered, can you dispose of it.

You will need to be very careful not to leave any seeds or berries behind, or else new plants will grow.

Fourth Step

You will next use a rototiller to loosen all the soil around the pokeweed. Use a screen to make sure that every inch of root has been removed, along with any seeds and berries. 

Fifth Step

Once you have removed all the roots, seeds, and berries, and they are in your wheelbarrow, place the screen over it. You can now shovel the soil onto the screen so that it filters through.

The screen will pick up any of the remaining roots, seeds, and berries. When it’s clear, this soil can be used again.


Return the cleared soil to the area where the pokeweed used to be, and rake it flat. You can now use this spot to plant whatever you like. However, you should check back here often to ensure that there’s no pokeweed growing.

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It’s very easy to accidentally miss a root section or seeds. If you return and notice pokeweed growing, you will need to repeat the process.

Unfortunately, this process is not an easy one, but it’s very rewarding! Removing pokeweed by hand is beneficial to everyone, including the environment. A little hard work never killed anybody, right? Except the pokeweed…

Method 2 – Weedkiller

Method 2 – Weedkiller

The second option is, of course, herbicides. Herbicides such as triclopyr or glyphosate are very effective at killing pokeweed.

They simply kill everything else, too, so you need to be very careful where you spray it. The easy nature of this method makes it ideal for someone who doesn’t want to spend too much time getting rid of this plant.

There are two different ways that you can go about using weed killers:

1. Spraying

This is the most common way to use a weedkiller. Simply spray the weedkiller wherever you see pokeweed. Keep in mind that if you’re spraying something that contains chemicals, then you may need to wear protective clothing.

2. Dipping

This method requires you to dip the stalks into a bucket filled with weed killer solution. While this sounds simple enough, it can actually be quite difficult.

This is due to the fact that you may end up having to dip multiple stalks into the bucket. Be careful not to spill the weedkiller, or else you will be killing other plants in the area. 

The Disadvantage Of Using Herbicides / Weed Killers

Using a herbicide to kill pokeweed is not ideal because it involves using unnatural chemicals. These chemicals could potentially harm you, surrounding animals, and even your pets.

Some of these chemicals could even cause cancer. In addition, not everyone is aware of how dangerous these substances really are.

For instance, most people don’t realize that weed killers contain carcinogens like dioxins and acetaldehyde.

Furthermore, some of these chemicals can remain in the environment long after they were applied. The best way to avoid this is to use the hand method.

Although many herbicides nowadays have come a long way, they may not be as safe as they seem. For example, some herbicides can also damage nearby plants.

If you don’t see any damage happening, you still shouldn’t assume that everything is fine. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when dealing with toxic chemicals.

Pokeweed Control

In order to control pokeweed, you first must determine where the plant grows. Once you find it, you should make sure to keep it away from your home.

Pokeweed seeds tend to spread quickly, which makes them extremely difficult to eradicate. As such, having an area free of the plant is necessary.

If you choose to go the manual route, you will need to dig out the entire root system of the plant. Pokeweed has a taproot that allows it to survive under the ground.

Thus, digging it out will ensure that it cannot return. After you have removed the taproot, you will need to dispose of it properly. You will then need to replant the soil around the roots.

If you decide to spray the plant, you will need to apply a herbicide solution directly to its leaves. Spray the herbicide onto the leaves until there are no more visible signs of the plant. Then wait 48 hours before spraying again. Repeat this process every 7-10 days until the plant dies off completely.

What To Do With The Pokeweed

Unless you plan on creating a dangerous concoction (which we definitely do not recommend), you shouldn’t use the pokeweed for anything.

Simply allow it to sit on the tarp and dry out. Do not try to dispose of it before it’s dried out, or else it will simply regrow.

There are several methods to deal with pokeweed that won’t involve utilizing harmful chemicals. One option is to let the plant rot naturally. Another option is to burn the plant.

However, this should only be used as a last resort. After you’ve decided what to do with the plant, you’ll want to be careful about disposing of it. Carefully dispose of it when it’s dead.

Something To Remember 

Firstly, pokeweed will easily regrow if you leave any rhizomes, seeds, or berries in the ground when you dig it up. This means that if you haven’t killed all the plants yet, you’ll have to repeat the entire process over again.

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Use a screen to thoroughly check all the soil you dig up. You might just want to get the job over and done with, but if you rush, there’s a good chance you’ll miss something.

If that happens, you’ll need to redo all your hard work. And no one wants to do that.

Second, be very careful before disposing of pokeweed. You should leave it out on the tarp to dry out and die before even thinking of disposing of it. If you dispose of it too early, it will continue to grow and continue to be a problem.

Third, some people will have more severe reactions to pokeweed than others. Whether you will have a serious or minor one, it’s best to avoid a reaction altogether. Always remember to wear your protective gloves.

Wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, and anything else to prevent your skin from coming into contact with this plant is best. Even minor reactions are unpleasant, and why deal with it if you can simply prevent it in the first place?

Final Thoughts

Pokeweed is a very unpleasant plant to have around. It causes unpleasant and dangerous reactions in many people who come into contact with it.

So, unless you have an excellent reason to keep it, don’t bother keeping it at all. The best thing you can do is get rid of the plant completely, and ensure that it doesn’t grow back.

Everyone will thank you for getting rid of this menace to society.

Hopefully this article was helpful to you! Now you should know how to get rid of pokeweed, either by hand using six simple steps, or by using a herbicide.

Whichever you choose, it’s best to deal with this problem plant efficiently, before someone gets hurt. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Get A Rash From Touching Pokeweed?

Yes. Your body has natural antifungal properties, so if you touch pokeweed, you could develop a fungal infection. This would most likely occur within 48 hours.

Is It Safe To Eat Pokeweed?

No. There have been cases where people ate pokeweed because they thought it was edible. They found out later that they had developed a serious allergic reaction.

Is It legal To Kill Pokeweed?

Yes. Pokeweed is considered a noxious weed. In fact, it’s illegal in many states to destroy them without a permit.

Is Pokeweed A Problem Plant?

Yes. Pokeweed is considered to be a concern plant because it is poisonous and is generally unwanted. It also spreads quickly through underground roots. 

Does Pokeweed Irritate The Skin?

Yes. People may experience irritation after being exposed to pokeweed.

What Are The Symptoms Of Pokeweed Poisoning?

People who ingest pokeweed may experience nausea and diarrhea. Some people may feel dizzy and weak. Others may experience abdominal pain, vomiting, and bleeding.

How Does Pokeweed Spread?

It spreads mainly by rhizomes. These are rootstocks that contain the seeds and buds. When these are cut off, new shoots sprout and the plant continues to grow.

How Do I Get Rid Of Pokeweed?

If you want to remove pokeweed yourself, there are several ways to go about doing it. First, you can dig up the entire plant, or you can use a herbicide. Getting rid of pokeweed by hand is always recommended as chemicals can harm the environment.

Is Pokeweed Poisonous?

Yes. It contains phytolaccine which can cause liver damage and other health problems.

What Happens If You Ingest Pokeweed?

Consuming pokeweed can be deadly. If you consume enough pokeweed, it can lead to death. Symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.

Can I Touch Pokeweed?

Yes, but only if you wear gloves. Otherwise, your hands can become irritated.

What Is Pokeweed Used For?

Pokeweed can be used to create dye and ink. It has also been used to color wine and as a food coloring.

Is Pokeweed Poisonous To Humans?

Yes. You can die from consuming too much pokeweed.

What Part Of Pokeweed Is Poisonous?

The whole plant is toxic, but the root is the most toxic part of the plant.

Is Pokeweed Poisonous To Animals?

Yes. Animals can easily be poisoned by eating pokeweed.

Does Pokeweed Produce Berries?

Yes, pokeweed does produce berries. The berries come from small white or pink flowers.

Can You Eat Pokeweed Berries?

No, you should not eat pokeweed berries.