This plant shows up every year with purple berries. I hope you can help identify it for me.
Based on your photograph, it appears that this mystery plant is common pokeweed ( Phytolacca americana), says UC master gardener Rachel Tooker.
Also called “poke salad,” this robust perennial has long, tropical-looking leaves. From August through October, pokeweed produces floppy racemes with small white flowers that develop into glossy purple-black berries.
Pokeweed can grow to 10 feet tall. It dies back in winter and then reemerges from the ground in spring, growing from a fleshy storage root. The leaves are large, 3 inches to a foot long and 1 to 5 inches wide, often with reddish stalks and lower veins.
Be careful around pokeweed. All plant parts, especially the root, contain saponins and oxalates and can be fatally toxic to humans and livestock when eaten raw or with improper preparation. They can cause severe digestive tract irritation. Birds occasionally become intoxicated after eating the berries.
Remove the pokeweed as it appears to keep it from spreading further. This can be accomplished simply by hoeing it up or digging it out.
According to UC master gardener June Bleile, many of the major seed companies carry Ambrosia melon seeds. “In addition to seeds, I did see seedlings at nurseries here in town recently,” she said.
Have you checked the seed racks at other local nurseries or garden centers? There also are many online sources.
For information on growing melons in the Sacramento area, send a self-addressed, business-size stamped envelope to: UC Cooperative Extension, EHN 99, 4145 Branch Center Road, Sacramento, CA 95827.