Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

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 Vines Questions

Fence Vines for Austin, TX
August 31, 2013 - Hi, What are the best high density vine plants for coverage on chain link fence in Austin, TX? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Difference between invasive Chinese and Japanese wisterias and native wisteria
September 12, 2014 - Dear Mr or Ms Smarty Plants, Is there any way I can tell for sure if my wisteria is native? I bought it at a place when it was in bloom that sold a lot of native plants. I Would like to know for sure...
view the full question and answer

Is Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) known to cause skin irritation
July 23, 2013 - Is Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata L.) known to cause a rash? We are trying to identify the source of a rash-after-gardening, and have not seen any of the big three (poison ivy, poison oak, poison suma...
view the full question and answer

Native vine to cover chain link fence in Massachusetts
March 21, 2008 - I have a chain link fence I don't want to bother taking down, any suggestions on a clinging vine that will rapidly attach itself to the links and eventually cover it with a green "blanket"? thanks
view the full question and answer

Purple Passionflower as a native in Charlottesville VA
September 18, 2013 - Is it possible to grow purple passion flower as a perennial in zone 7? I am looking for hummers and butterflies to be attracted by the plant. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

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