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

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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

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