Pokeweed is a member of the Phytolaccaceae, or broader pokeweed family, and is a native herbaceous perennial plant that is large, growing up to 8 feet (2 meters) in height. One to several branches grow from the crown of a thick, white, fleshy taproot, each a "stout, smooth, green to somewhat purplish stem;" with simple, entire leaves with long petioles alternately arranged along the stem.
Pokeweeds reproduce only by its seeds (large glossy black, and lens-shaped), contained in a fleshy, 10-celled, purple-to-near-black berry with crimson juice. The flowers are perfect, radially symmetric, white or green, with 4-5 sepals and no petals. The flowers develop in elongated clusters termed racemes. The seeds have a long viability and can germinate after many years in the soil.
Birds are unaffected by the natural chemicals contained in the berries and eat them, dispersing the seeds. Seed are also found in commercial seed (e.g., vegetable seed packets). The berries are reported to be a good food source for songbirds and other bird species and small animals unaffected by its toxins] Distribution via birds is thought to account for the appearance of "single, isolated plants" in areas that had otherwise not been populated by pokeweed.