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In my garden a strange plant is growing at an incredible speed and I can't identify what kind it is. It broke through end of June and within two months it grew about 1.8-2.0m high. It now carries black/blue berries which produces a red juice upon squeezing them.

I assume birds were dropping the seed onto my garden.

I don't have a picture of the root (originally I had two of those plants, but I had to remove one as it was in the way). The root was quite impressive: 20-30cm long and 2-8cm in diameter in a form of a carrot colored in ocher. I think the two roots of the two plants were connected.

I'm located in France, in the Essonne departement (near Paris).

Here are some pictures (click to enlarge). The light green leaves in the first picture do not belong to this plant.

The whole plant                                           Leafs and the flower before flowering

Before flowering                                                                After flowering

Fruits in green                                                   Fruits in black

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Pictures of the whole plant, flowers and root, can be found here:… – DisplayName Jul 15 '14 at 9:48
I got it too. Just popped up. Bird love the berries, but I dare not eat them. – GolezTrol Jul 28 at 22:14

3 Answers 3

up vote 14 down vote accepted

That is Pokeweed.

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Berries produce a strong dye. It's not recommended because the stuff is poisonous, but my southern ancestors would eat the stuff as boiled greens (talk about killing food value, but there's a reason). Don't eat it, the roots are especially dangerous. – Fiasco Labs Jul 15 '14 at 14:23

Pokeweed has a particular place in Southern North American ecology and folklife. To me, the methods to prepare it as food sound like detoxification more than cooking.

In France it is probably best to mulch the plant, taking care to destroy the ripened seeds so they do not perpetuate the problem.

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It is named Phytolacca americana, invasive in Europe from US. Fruits are a bit toxic. To see more about toxicity you can see Wikipedia page.

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Could you include a link to information about toxicity of this plant? Or edibility for that matter? – That Idiot Jul 29 at 15:42

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