Pat Jacques
Pat Jacques
  • Hometalker
  • Harrison Township, MI
Asked on Aug 13, 2013

Is this a plant or a weed?

Phillip WilliamsTerra GazelleJulie Dever
+40

Answered

A co-worker brought in this picture today to see if we could identify whether this plant is a weed. It's very colorful and unique. Your input is appreciated!
is this a plant or a weed, gardening
33 answers
  • S137
    on Aug 14, 2013

    I'm pretty sure that is pokeweed. There is lots of conflicting information online about it. The berries make good food for birds. Some people eat parts of the plant. Others say is it poisonous. The American Cancer Society has a page on it: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/pokeweed

  • Pat Jacques
    on Aug 14, 2013

    That is it! Thank you for identifying. What an interesting plant.

  • Pokeweed berries will make you very sick! The berries will stain anything that comes in contact. Yes, the birds love them but if the berries fall on the ground they will reseed and you will be hacking and pulling pokeweeds for years. I live in the South and I have seen them almost 9 feet tall! You do not want them anywhere near your yard or gardens~ I have been killing them now for 5 years because seeds can be dormant for years so beware!

  • Pat Jacques
    on Aug 14, 2013

    Thanks, C Renee. I will share your experience with my co-worker.

  • S137
    on Aug 14, 2013

    For what it's worth, my goats do not eat it.

  • Arizona Smith
    on Aug 14, 2013

    It is pokeweed, it is said the American indians used the berries for die.

  • Bev
    on Aug 14, 2013

    It is absolutely pokeweed. It is poisonous to dogs and horses. It is loved by the birds, but reseeds so quickly! I had only one plant three years ago and now I have dozens on my half acre.

  • Vickie Lanham
    on Aug 14, 2013

    My husband's aunt used to eat it . She change the cooking water 4 or 5 times as it cooks,like you do with some greens. I wouldn't eat it .

  • Peg
    on Aug 14, 2013

    Pokeweed is considered a weed and pest. Yes, the birds love to eat the berries, then they drop the seeds all over, hence, new plants pop up all over. You'll find them growing under bigger trees or areas where birds hang out. They do grow fast and big, and once too big, hard to get rid of since it grows a stubborn root. As kids we used the berries as ink along with other plants to "color with nature".

  • Rha208746
    on Aug 14, 2013

    Poke can be eaten, I have made this many times. When it is young, cook it in water and salt and rinse, and repeat, about 4 times,, then we put it in scrambled eggs. My husband loved it

  • Phillip Williams
    on Aug 15, 2013

    Here's a quick clip from an online source: Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed, pokeweed, poke) is used as a folk medicine and as food, although all parts of it must be considered toxic unless, as folk recipes claim, it is "properly prepared". The root is never eaten and cannot be made edible.[13] Poke salad ('poke salat') is considered part of traditional southern U.S. cuisine, where it is cooked three times in three changes of boiling water to remove some of the harmful components.[14] Toxic constituents which have been identified include the alkaloids phytolaccine and phytolaccotoxin, as well as a glycoprotein.[

  • Lynn
    on Aug 15, 2013

    Looks like pokeweed to me. My son in law planted it in a purposely planned garden area and the birds love it. It's only a weed if you don't want it! With water becoming an ever increasingly scarce resource, all of these 'natives' are getting more popular!

  • Carol White
    on Aug 15, 2013

    Definitely Pokeweed. Makes a great fabric dye.

  • Celia Albert
    on Aug 15, 2013

    I grew up out on a lake in N. Alabama, and this grew all up and down the roads. It is pokeweed and I heard that some of the older country people would eat it, although I never have. The berries turn dark purple and I heard the Indians used the juice as a dye.

  • Theresa Morris
    on Aug 15, 2013

    My step dad used to cut the young stalk into small pieces, roll in flour, and fry. Today, I fight to keep it out of my flower beds!

  • Julie Dever
    on Aug 15, 2013

    It attracts birds that also eat tomato hornworms and other insects in the garden....Usually only re-seeds in the same area as the mother plant. Requires little attention.

  • CindyD
    on Aug 15, 2013

    We find them smashed all over the sidewalk, maybe dropped by the birds, and the stain lasts quite a while, especially when you get it on your shoe and track it all over ;-)

  • Catsrule
    on Aug 15, 2013

    Treat it as an invasive weed. The roots are long and thick, make sure you dig it all out.

    • Catsrule
      on Aug 16, 2013

      @Catsrule It may not spread, but like an invasive weed the sooner and smaller you eradicate it the better. I nearly threw out my back digging out one that grew over three feet behind my garage.

  • Annette
    on Aug 15, 2013

    It is Poke. The berries are poisonous. The leaves are very editable. My family has eaten poke since for ever. The stems does get hard if it gets to tall but the leaves are still editable. First boil it. This removes all poisons out of the poke. Now roll it in whipped egg and cornmeal. Next fry it. I like using bacon grease . This is very very good. It is very high in vitamin K . So any on blood thinners will need to watch how much they eat.

    • Alice Ticer
      on Jun 21, 2014

      @Annette I like the song "Polk Salet Annie" by Elvis. People eat this but you need to know how to cook.

  • Laura
    on Aug 15, 2013

    My philosophy is, no matter what it is, if you don't want it where it growing, its a weed.

  • Pat Jacques
    on Aug 15, 2013

    Thanks everyone for your input.

  • Bobbie larsen
    on Aug 16, 2013

    Is this where the song "Poke Salad Annie" came from? LOL

  • Darlene F
    on Aug 17, 2013

    WEED birds eat the berries then poop purple nasty drops on your laundry and car!!!

    • Lgsmith
      on Aug 17, 2013

      @Darlene F True.... Ruins your laundry. @Bobbie yes it is. ELVIS sang it.

  • Kim Truehart
    on Aug 18, 2013

    looks like an elderberry bush to me...,there was 1 rather large one in a garden bed at the house we bought 9 yrs ago.....9 yrs later they are popping up EVERYWHERE...and i DO mean everywhere,several have popped up in the middle of our veggie garden this yr. and all along the edges of our property.The birds do love the berries but end up pooping out the seeds...It doesn't take much for them to take root & create a great thick screen between you & your neighbor.The bushes/trees grow quickly & are quite pretty,small white-ish flowers turn to dark reddish-purple berries that do stain anything they come into contact with. My bf had a white van he parked in the driveway and one day my daughter(,then about 13 yrs old) and a friend decided to have a berry fight,after being told to leave them alone because they stain.....long story short,they ended up washing the van with clorox clean up and rubber gloves to get the stains off. The verries do make a great dye for paper and/or cloth.

    • Dorothy
      on Jun 22, 2014

      @Kim Truehart Nope....not elderberry....elderberry has large flat clusters of tiny white flowers and leaves are in pairs on a central leaf stem. This is pokeweed.

  • Nancy Sauer
    on Aug 18, 2013

    It is Poke salad. It can be cleaned, and prepared by boiling. Try it in an Omelet. It is tasty. The pic shows it in full area of growth. When It comes up in the spring, pick the small leaves for eating. It is found in the woods in Ala. and I was told my many that if you ate it , it was a good thing for health and vigor.

  • Sondra
    on Sep 8, 2013

    I have some growing in a backyard corner. First time I've seen them. Fast growing, too. I like the looks of them so I'll not cut them down. Nor, will I eat any of the Poke.

  • Srogers
    on Jun 13, 2014

    It is poke weed. While all parts of the mature plant are poisonous, the first young shoots that emerge in spring are edible when cooked. My mom ate poke root when she was little (thought it looked like potato) and she almost died. http://extension.psu.edu/pests/weeds/weed-id/pokeweed

  • Srogers
    on Jun 13, 2014

    It is poke weed. While all parts of the mature plant are poisonous, the first young shoots that emerge in spring are edible when cooked. My mom ate poke root when she was little (thought it looked like potato) and she almost died. http://extension.psu.edu/pests/weeds/weed-id/pokeweed

  • Mary
    on Jun 21, 2014

    my folks always cooked: boiled the "Poke Salat " at least 3 times, boil, rinse x3...bitterness ? poisons ?

  • Elizabeth Poteat
    on Jun 21, 2014

    My Mother and my husband thought there was nothing like Polk Salat and ate it with boiled eggs. Thanks but I wouldn't touch it.

  • Julie Dever
    on Jun 23, 2014

    I had it in a yard of a house I lived in.....birds did love the berries. Never cooked it, was not into health in those days....almost impossible to kill.

  • Terra Gazelle
    on Aug 1, 2014

    Phytolacca americana, or common Pokeweed as a kid we would take the berries and mash them with vinegar and make ink...then strain them.

  • Phillip Williams
    on Aug 2, 2014

    Your original question asked if this were a plant or a weed. We have a bit of a joke among gardeners that a weed is any plant that is in the wrong place... (;-)

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