One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Here’s a little plant coming up around the neighborhood.

It’s so plain I’m showing close-ups of the leaves and stem as well.

Give me a guess in the comments and I’ll check back for your answers.

~~~

No guesses today? This is a fairly common native plant that most of you humans probably recognize after it’s all grown up–and got it’s roots–or should we say taproot!–in your garden!

Any guesses now?

It’s Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, sprout in spring, monster by summer, sometimes growing to 8 feet tall. And it will return year after year because it’s almost impossible to get that taproot out after it’s grown for a season.

And don’t forget the possibility of reseeding–lots of berries in the fall, that are actually poisonous. They are eaten by a few birds–catbird, cardinal, mockingbird–but for the rest of us, these berries are a no-no.

 Some humans advocate removing pokeweed from populated areas like our suburban yards. If you look for the smooth-edged leaves and red stems, it’s easy to spot pokeweed and remove the entire root when the plants are small.

Yep, when it’s small.

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Pokeweed, leave it or weed it?

American Pokeweed

The berries of American Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, are poisonous. And oh-so tempting to you humans, especially when they are in full ripeness –and at their most toxic!–this time of year.

Pokeweed in late summer

The plant is big and weedy and produces many berries. No wonder it can take over a farmer’s field!

Yet there are birds who will eat them with no harmful effects, like the Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Gray catbird and Brown Thrasher.