En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Poison ivy? vine in NJ
July 30, 2012 - I have a vine growing among some vegetation in my backyard. It has a leaf with 3 "points" with ridges along its edges. The smaller leaves are reddish which is why I thought poison ivy but definite...
view the full question and answer

Plants causing skin irritation in West Bend WI
May 26, 2011 - Is there a list of plants that cause blistering in this area? I have a friend who gets it bad every year-I find no evidence of cow parsnip or poison ivy---thanks.
view the full question and answer

Horse-friendly plants for Powell OH
September 24, 2010 - I am looking for horse friendly plants, i.e., shrubs, trees, bushes, etc. that can be planted in wet area in Ohio. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen trees for California that are non-toxic for dogs
February 19, 2014 - Hi, we live in California, San Bernardino County and would like to know what evergreen trees are safe to plant in our backyard with 2 little dogs being around. I did quite some search online but ever...
view the full question and answer

Is Texas mountain laurel honey toxic?
May 25, 2015 - I have been told that honey produced from the flowers of my Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora) would not be safe to consume. Is this correct? The only information I have been able to find is...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center