A weird Iowa weed
September 29, 2008 8:13 PM   Subscribe

What is this weird plant?

Flower closeup, here's another shot.

More details: growing wild (I'm pretty sure it is a weed of some sort) in a back yard in central Iowa. Quite prolific -- they seem to be popping up all over the yard. They can get quite huge, with some of them growing 4-5 feet tall with the main stalk being several inches thick. The "berries" seem to bloom into weird flowers.

What is this backyard oddity? Is it dangerous? Should we try to get rid of it?

posted by sararah to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I haven't done an exact comparison but it looks a lot like the pokeweed we had on our old acreage in Oklahoma.
posted by crapmatic at 8:19 PM on September 29, 2008

Response by poster: That does not sound delicious at all. any tips for controlling it or getting rid of it?
posted by sararah at 8:24 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: My parents used to struggle with this one. They grow so fast! To get rid of one you have to get the whole root system otherwise they just grow back. One year my parents were able to totally eradicate them, but the berries had left seeds that came up the next year. That year my dad harvested the berries and we had a tie-dye party with the juice. The shirts faded to brown, but my parents just made peace with the plant and leave it alone now.
posted by abirae at 8:56 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Absolutely, positively pokeweed.

Looks delicious. The whole plant, but especially the berries & roots, contain a mutagenic poison. As nasty as the word sounds.

The Spring shoots do not contain the poison, and it constituted an important part of the diet of earlier Americans (since it is high in C, and IIRC, A). Therefore, there are "Poke Festivals" and recipes for poke shoots - do not ever eat anything but the early, pre-reddened shoots!

... or just avoid altogether.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:57 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Definitely polk salad.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:17 AM on September 30, 2008

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