Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pokeweed: Friend or Foe?

Why is this pokeweed in a vase?

Gosh, I hate pokeweed.  Or, perhaps the more accurate word is "hated."  You all know pokeweed:
That large, though somewhat handsome, plant, huge taproot, that sprouts like a hydra if you break it off when removing the plant.  Pokeweed is also poisonous and the berries stain (thanks birds!).
I actually drew it:

Hum, so why draw a plant you "hate?"  OK, OK.....As I said, the plant is handsome, and the green, rose and purple berries are stunning.  And maybe I don't hate it so much, after all, because the berries are favorites of some cool birds, like mourning doves, bluebirds, catbirds and mocking birds (I can listen to mockers sign for a long time, trying to identify their songs).  Indeed, these birds feed heavily on pokeweed berries.

Yes, I know, too much is too much.  How to remove pokeweed?  It is good to wait until after a rain, when the soil is saturated. This helps loosen the roots' grip on the soil.  Young plants can usually be pulled out by hand. Established plants need to be dug out, getting all the taproot.  Quite a chore.  So you might think of letting a few plants stay in a corner of your yard, for the birds!

One more image for you: look at this speckled-leaf cultivar of pokeweed at the Denver Botanic gardens!  Wow!

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