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
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

Smoking mint instead of tobacco from Fairfield CA
March 23, 2013 - I realize this is a stupid question, but i am a little curious about this. Anyway I heard more people are smoking mint leaves to help cure their addiction to tobacco and i was wondering if it is s...
view the full question and answer

How can I eradicate Mexican Petunia from my garden in Vacaville CA?
July 02, 2009 - Can you tell me the best way to eradicate the plant Ruellia, commonly known as Mexican Petunia, from my garden?
view the full question and answer

Eliminating agave roots in Tonto Basin AZ
April 22, 2009 - Greetings Mr. Smarty Plants, from Tonto Basin, AZ! We have numerous mature (huge!) Agave Americana plants here, and have, until recently, enjoyed them. However, we are now ready for a drastic landscap...
view the full question and answer

Invasive native wild onions in East Granby CT
May 17, 2011 - I have wild onions which have become extremely invasive. I have no idea how to get rid of them, and this year they seem to have taken over my entire flower bed. I tried pulling the bulbs out for sever...
view the full question and answer

Why do conifers kill Texas hummingbird sage from Gray GA
April 15, 2014 - Why do conifers kill Texas hummingbird sage?
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