Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - October 02, 2013

From: Bonne Terre, MO
Region: Midwest
Topic: Problem Plants, Vines
Title: How to get rid of Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty-Pants, I have pokeweed growing all over my backyard. I know this plant is poisonous, how do I get rid of it for good? Also, a broad leaf vine that is swallowing my trees whole.

ANSWER:

Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed) is poisonous; but, amazingly, some parts at some stages are edible.  Plus, the birds really like the ripe berries and, of course, that's why you have so many plants—thanks to the birds.  The plant isn't, however, endangered so it is not a problem to try and get rid of it.  You can pull them up or dig them up.   Discard them carefully out of reach of children that might be tempted to eat the berries.  You could also cut them off very near the ground and then paint the cut surface on the stem still in the ground with an appropriate herbicide (ask your local nursery which herbicide would be best).   Use a cheap foam brush and paint the surface immediately after cutting.  Many plants rapidly seal cells at the cite of an injury to protect themselves and the sealing would inhibit the uptake of the herbicide.  Please read and follow the safety precautions that are given on the herbicide to protect yourself and the environment.

For the vine follow the same strategy of cutting the stem near the ground and painting the cut base of the vine with the herbicide.

 

From the Image Gallery


American pokeweed
Phytolacca americana

More Problem Plants Questions

Getting rid of poison ivy
May 08, 2009 - Dear Mr Smarty Plants, Likewise I also have a shady area in my yard with overgrowth of poison ivy. It borders a small duck pond and we have a Golden Retriever. I too would like to plant soon afterward...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of skunk cabbage in Hopedale OH
April 22, 2010 - How can someone get rid of skunk cabbage?
view the full question and answer

Frost protection for non-native citrus trees from Austin
November 24, 2013 - With ice predicted, should I pick citrus, lemons, limes, satsumas that are not quite ready?
view the full question and answer

Eliminating non-native invasive bermuda grass in Morgan's Point TX
April 25, 2010 - We are trying to establish a wildflower meadow, but are having trouble with the neighbor's invasive bermudagrass taking over..what can be done to eliminate the bermuda?
view the full question and answer

Identification of vine with hair-like prickles
January 04, 2013 - Trying to find out what kind of vine I ran into yesterday while climbing a deer stand. While pushing limbs and vines down from around me, I noticed hair-like thorns stuck in my sleeves and hands. This...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.