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South West residents urged to be on the lookout for the invasive plant pokeweed to protect agriculture

Claudette RizziSouth Western Times
Pokeweed is known for its distinctive purple-black berries.
Camera IconPokeweed is known for its distinctive purple-black berries. Credit: Supplied

With summer well on its way, South West residents are being asked to be on the lookout for the invasive plant pokeweed.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will begin a surveillance program on 27 November, which is set to continue until at least late January.

DPIRD biosecurity officer Zara Matthews said the department is leading the search for pokeweed on public and private properties in and around Balingup and Mullalyup in the State’s South West, and are also targeting some areas of Bridgetown and Pemberton to control the spread.

“Now is an ideal time to identify the poisonous plant as it will be in flower and showing its distinctive purple-black berries,” she said.

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The plant’s toxic leaves and berries can harm humans and animals, and can also affect agricultural land by contaminating produce.

It should not be eaten or handled.

Pokeweed has bright green leaves that grow up to 40cm long on a purplish stem.

Flowers are white to magenta coloured and form long hanging clusters.

Pokeweed looks similar to Inkweed, which is common in the South West, but grows taller and has bigger leaves with drooping berry stalks.

Those who suspect they have seen the plant are encouraged to report it to the department and not collect the seeds, berries or leaves.

For more information, contact the Pest and Disease Information Service on 9368 3080 or padis@dpird.wa.gov.au.

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