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Can You Burn Pokeweed? Dangers, Facts, & FAQ

pokeweed plant

There are several different kinds of plants, flowers, and even weeds that can appear in your yard throughout the year. One such plant is pokeweed. Also known as pokeberries, pokeweed is a dangerous plant that can present itself in most parts of the United States. While pokeweed resembles grapes, it is poisonous to people and animals, leaving its removal a necessity.

When it comes to removing pokeweed, many people ask if you can burn it. Is it safe? While it’s possible to burn pokeweed, like most plants, the safety concerns involved with this poisonous plant make burning it a bad idea. Instead, following recommended removal methods set forth by professionals is the best course of action to take.

For those of you that have pokeweed in your yard or have seen it growing in your area, we’ll learn a bit more about this plant and how you can safely remove it from your property.

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What Is Pokeweed?

close up of a pokeweed fruit
Image By: GoranH, Pixabay

Phytolacca americana, or pokeweed, is a perennial weed that is native to the southern US but has made its way into other regions. This weed is considered a nuisance and dangerous due to its roots, stems, and berries being poisonous. Pokeweed can grow up to 8 feet high, with some people claiming they have seen plants as big as 10 feet. The leaves of this plant are narrow with rippled edges. It also has green or white leaves and clusters of berries that are often confused with grapes.

Is Pokeweed Dangerous?

When it comes to skin contact, pokeweed isn’t as poisonous as other plants like poison ivy or poison oaks. Don’t let that fool you, however. It is still possible to get a rash from touching pokeweed. This is thanks to the phytolaccatoxin found in all parts of the pokeweed plant. For some people, direct contact with this plant can result in a painful rash or blisters so it is best to avoid contact with your skin.

The real danger of pokeweed comes in regards to the berries. While all parts of the plant are poisonous, the berries are often confused with other types of berries, such as blackberries. This is where people who aren’t familiar with pokeweed, especially children, can ingest the berries and leave themselves suffering from the mistake. Here are a few of the symptoms associated with pokeweed poisoning that may start to appear within 6 hours of ingesting the berries:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsing
  • Stomach pains

In severe cases, the poisoning that results from eating pokeweed can be fatal. If you or someone you know accidentally eats pokeberry, get to the hospital immediately and explain your situation.

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Can I Burn Pokeweed?

a pokeweed plant
Image Credit: GoranH, Pixabay

While it may be tempting to gather any pokeweed on your property and toss it in the fire, this isn’t a good idea. As we’ve mentioned, every part of the pokeweed plant is poisonous. When you toss a plant, especially a green plant that is full of sap, onto a fire, the poison inside the sap is released into the air. This makes the situation dangerous to anyone in the area who may breathe in the fumes. If an allergic reaction to pokeweed takes place in your lungs, breathing troubles, fever, and a rash around your lips and nose may appear. This is why we don’t recommend burning pokeweed you may find in your yard.

How Do I Remove Pokeweed Safely?

With burning pokeweed being out of the question, properly disposing of this weed must be addressed. Yes, there are weed killers out there that can kill pokeweed, but we all know the dangers involved with using these chemicals. The best way to remove pokeweed, and ensure it stays gone, is to do it the old-fashioned way and dig it up.

Before you start the process of removing pokeweed from your yard, it’s important to wear protective clothing. You’ll need trusted gloves and coverings to ensure none of the poison from this plant gets on your skin or clothing. Once you’re suited up, use your shovel and dig the plant up. Make sure to get the entire root. That is the best way to ensure the weed doesn’t return. Then simply toss the pokeweed into a garbage bag and secure it. This will allow you to dispose of it without worries about yourself or others coming into contact with it.

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Final Thoughts

As you can see, burning pokeweed can be quite dangerous. To avoid any potential allergic reactions to this poisonous plant, it’s best to remove pokeweed using protective gear, a shovel, and trash bags. This will keep pokeweed’s toxins from being released into the air where they can make you and the people around you sick.

Featured Image Credit: GoranH, Pixabay


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