En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Friday - September 10, 2010

From: Greensburg, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: How to Remove Pokeweed in Greenburg, Pennsylvania
Answered by: Marilyn Kircus

QUESTION:

Last year I purchased a home with 3 acres of land and it is infested with pokeweeds,Phytolacca americana! I have small children and know this is a poisonous plant. Could you please tell me a way to get rid of these? There are over 30 around the property. The owner before was an herbalist and grew them for consumption but I do not want to risk it.

ANSWER:

Phytolacca americana L. (American Pokeweed) berries are an important food source for wild life. American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Red Fox, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, and White-footed Mouse all eat the berries.

These animals help spread Pokeweed by pooping the seeds in new places.

So you will probably never be without pokeweed any more than you will probably never be without poison ivy.  The seedlings and small plants can be pulled by hand but you have to dig out the entire huge taproot of the larger plants as pieces will regenerate.  The plants are not poisonous unless ingested, so handling them is not dangerous.

Your children will be mainly attracted to the berries. Some people cut them off which, over time, will help prevent more plants from growing.  However my daughter has a few pokeweeds on her property and we have never been concerned that my now five year old grandson will eat them. He has been gardening with me since he was two and we always talk about only eating plants that an adult says are safe to eat.  And the berries are the main part of the plant that wildlife uses.

And remember, the Declaration of Independence was signed with pokeweed berry ink so you are hosting a plant has an interesting history as well as one that important to the lives of many animals.


Phytolacca americana

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
July 28, 2013 - HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it lo...
view the full question and answer

Vines for fence, safe for horses in California
December 12, 2013 - I live in a fire prone part of Orange County, CA named Silverado and own horses. Am interested in fast growing vines to cover a fenced area which are horse safe. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Toxicity of catalpa wood?
June 05, 2012 - Is the sawdust from cutting up a catalpa tree or the smoke from burning the wood toxic? Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Wintering over an Angel Trumpet in Kentucky
September 20, 2008 - I have an Angel Trumpet on my deck in LaGrange,Ky -Can I plant it out in the yard now or do I have to take it in the house for the winter- It is 5 feet tall and I have no room in the house! Help!-Than...
view the full question and answer

Drought-tolerant plants that are non-toxic to dogs
May 10, 2010 - I am looking for drought-tolerant native plants non-poisonious to dogs. We are putting gardens in an area the dog has access to, and she likes to sample the darndest things. South side of the house,...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center