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So, Pokeweed dilema...

Posted by CaraRose 5b Chicago (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 9, 13 at 21:51

I know this isn't an ID request, but since Pokeweed comes up so much here and there's people here who have strong opinions...

To lead in here, I live in Chicago. I have lived here my whole life. I have never seen pokeweed nor had heard about it till I started hanging around this forum. I know it's native to Illinois, but I've never come across it ever.

So I'm walking down the alley with my dogs today, and out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of this small plant-- green leaves, reddish stem. Turn to get a clear look and there is a tiny pokeweed (6" tall at best) growing through a crack in the concrete in the alley. It had one flower spike at the top, no doubt at all what it is. I've seen enough photos of it here. I don't know where it came from.

Here's the thing... it's not on my property, but technically, it's also not on anyone's property. It's in a city alley. So I'm thinking maybe next time I'm going down that alley I might just bring a scissors and at least snip that sucker so it doesn't flower and put out any seeds.

I know it's native but I'm thinking the last thing we want is that seeding all over the neighborhood. Maybe it's too late and it's all over someone's yard. I'm going to be keeping a careful eye out for it in mine from now on.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

I'm sure there are plenty of downstate back roads where pokeweed flourishes along the fences. No need for a guilty conscience.

[Let me guess: that crack in the concrete is under a wire, or the edge of a garage roof, or perhaps a fence: something suitable for a bird to perch on while he digested the purple berries he ate for dessert....]


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

PW is really not that terrifying, don't believe all of the hype. You have to NOT pull sprouts for a while (months) before they are difficult to pull. If you happen to let one grow for so long that you can't dig it out, just pour boiling water on the root. You check your yard more often than that, don't you? This isn't a vine that creeps around under ground to come up 20 feet away, it's a tap-root plant.

"I don't know where it came from." Bird poo...


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

imho.. too many peeps equate native.. with good ...

i have a lot of extremely horrible weeds in my yard.. that are probably native.. but that does not make them an asset to my garden ...

kill it ....

ken


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

imho.. too many peeps equate native.. with good ...

Only the birds and insects that evolved with them and therefore rely on them for nourishment ....

Ken, we can't populate all of the US landscapes with exotic plants, some of these natives have to stay around if you like birds and butterflies!


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

It may not be appropriate in a neighborhood, but spotting one plant does not indicate there's an impending invasion. If you see a sprout, just pull it. Letting a bunch of them grow to the point where they are hard to get rid of does not mean this is a such a scary weed. It only means someone's not patrolling/pulling regularly, and/or counting on a periodic squirt of some chemical to 'control things.'

If one didn't spend so much time typing unpleasant things to new people on garden forums, there might be more time to monitor and pull weeds while they are still small enough to do so.

Many people fill their yards with plants specifically for their contribution to the indigenous critters. We are told which plants are weeds by forces with ulterior motives. Gather info and think for yourself. Anyone who watches 'name that plant' regularly knows almost everyone thinks their plant 'looks cool' or is 'striking' until they are told it's a weed.

Below pic is passion vine (Passiflora) planted specifically so gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillars can eat it. Like many other butterflies, this kind can only eat one genus of plant. All plants have a purpose, some of which we don't understand, and some of which are simply at odds with our specific goals.


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

And I always thought that people loved pokeweed. When harvested young they make what is called poke salad. It does not taste like a greens. I took this off the web for those interested;
Polk salad is only safe for human consumption when the plant is young, no more than 18 inches tall, with leaves no more than 6 inches long. Beyond that size, the polk salad plant becomes poisonous to human and live stock. Why would anyone want to hunt for, harvest and eat a wild, poisonous plant? It's just the way it is in the south, if it grows, we eat it.
If left alone, the poke salad plant will grow to about 10 feet tall and produce very dark purple poke berries. The poke berries are poisonous to humans and animals, except for the birds. Birds love poke berries and southerners always know when the poke salad season has passed by the deep purple color of the bird droppings on the windshields of our vehicles.
Here's a couple of recipes for safe preparation of poke salad greens and stalks. For the greens, pick the leaves off of the stalk and pinch off the leaf stem. Inspect and wash the leaves thoroughly under cold running water, then par boil the poke salad leaves for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the leaves, discard the water, wash the cooking pot, then boil the poke salad leaves again until tender. Use enough water to completely cover the polk salad leaves when boiling, salt and pepper to taste.
You can eat the poke salad leaves like that, or drain and toss in a skillet with a couple of teaspoons of bacon drippings and stir fry them for about one minute. Some folks like to beat a raw egg and add to the mixture while it's in the skillet as well.
The poke salad stalks are prepared just like okra. Wash thoroughly, slice about one half inch thick, roll in cornmeal and fry in a quarter inch of grease until golden brown.


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

Esh & Purpleinopp- well said!! Amen!!!


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

I have and like natives. I planted swamp milkweed in my bog along with cardinal flower and great blue lobelia, marsh marigolds and obedient plant. I leave goldenrod alone when it springs up. I leave fleabanes when they pop up and just dead head them to keep them from seeding all over.

But I have to say, from everything I've heard, pokeweed scares me. How many times has someone posted asking what it is and calling it a weed from hell? Clearly, it's causing a lot of grief for a lot of people.

And for the love of all things... I just read that a pokeweed seed can remain viable for up to 40 years?? Holy moly...


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

Oh, and MissingTheObvious, you're absolutely right, there's utility lines down that side of the alley.

I'm still not sure where the bird got it from, unless he'd been traveling a good distance.


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

That pokeweed will develop a large root if it can. I think you will be doing the concrete a favor by removing it.


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

Pokeweed is not scary at all. Easy to recognize when young and pull up. I pull it up all the time in my yard, in my pots. No need to be scared of it.


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RE: So, Pokeweed dilema...

Poke Sallet is actually quite lovely and almost fake looking fast growing plant. The plant is opportunistic but not hard to control at all in my opinion. It is nothing like battling Trumpet Vines or bamboo shoots - those are absolutely horrible! The Poke Sallet young shoots double boiled, and sauteed with a bit of bacon - so delicious! I just as some last night and I look forward to getting more shoots soon.


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