Anybody know what this is?

ptaps(5)August 3, 2013

We just moved to central Indiana and I found this bush in my yard. It was a small white flower before it changed to fruit. I have no idea what this is, help please!!!

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Pokeweed. Poisonous.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 9:43PM
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Ewww ok thanks!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 10:26PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Get rid of it. But know that you may have quite a bit of work to dig it out.
Also watch for seedlings, then remove them as soon as you see them.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 11:39PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

People do eat it.... If you remember the song Polk salad Annie that is the plant it is referring to. Some people call it poke sallet. It is poisonous though if cooked improperly. The young shoots are boiled with a few water changes to get rid of the (I think) oxalic acid. I have had not bad at all. I know the berries are used to make pies though have never had that and I don't know how they are prepared to deal with the toxic acid.

The chickens sure like the berries and it does not hurt birds at all but there are many things that would harm us that are harmless to birds.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 9:52AM
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Best not to eat it. Not oxalic acid, but 3 other types of toxins that aren't completely removed by cooking/changing the water. Why risk it? I'd remove it from the yard, esp. if you have young children. We have it growing wild out back, DH tries to keep up with it but my kids know not to even taste anything unless they check with me first.

Here is a link that might be useful: AL Cooperative Ext article

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 10:23AM
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So do I take it out next spring or do I try to tackle it now?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 11:02AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

It isn't tough to kill....cut it off at ground level and hit the open broken top with roundup and it is done.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 11:18AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

It's easy to kill and not a very invasive plant. Just pull it up and if it sprouts again, pull it up again. I have a little growing in the mulch near my blueberries I need to pull up.

Don't be too afraid of it. When I lived in AR, people around there knew how to prepare it and would hunt it up to eat it. They liked their poke greens.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 12:41PM
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I know dozens of country people that have eaten poke (the greens and young shoots) for decades, probably generations. I and my family only just started eating it this spring. I followed the standard cooking precautions, but a lot of people I know that have eaten it for decades don't (with no ill effects.) In fact, I haven't been able to find and no one has ever been able to point me to a single incident of someone suffering any negative health effects from poke anything remotely like it's traditionally eaten. It's one of the easiest, nicest greens for early in the season before most cultivated cooking greens are ready. Regarding the toxic scares, lots of conventional plants are toxic if not eaten or prepared right: tomato leaves are poisonous; Irish potatoes develop poisons as they turn green; most purchased grain products contain mycotoxins at levels deemed acceptable; most health officials highly advise against consuming milk or other dairy without heat treatment; poultry is extremely risky if not cooked properly; wasn't it just discovered that most American rice contains arsenic? I read another story recently about traces of lead in hot sauces. Alcohol is a toxin, right? I bet most foods contain trace substances that are "poisonous" but will never have any poisonous effect prepared the way people normally prepare them and eaten in the kind of quantities people eat them in. If you're going to eat it, learn those basic details, just like you would with any other food that's new to you. Of course, there are plenty of risks with supermarket food, too. Cyclospora is the latest headline cause of hospitalizations from conventional food. Furthermore it's not as if the conventional American food system is feeding a population that's generally a picture of health. To the question why "risk" eating poke, I say given a choice why "risk" eating supermarket food (and why burn fossil fuels growing and transporting food from Mexico to replace the poke already volunteering in your backyard, and why foster a system that runs on immigrant underclasses when you could simply take care of yourself, and why enslave yourself further/longer to the office job to buy food you could otherwise harvest for free, and you're probably not eating nearly the share of greens that would be healthiest for you anyway, especially coming out of a long Midwestern winter when fresh poke emerges...) Of course, poke grows wild and is sometimes going to come up in places where it's a weed problem, but it's not a bad weed, not hard to control. I say learn how to prepare and enjoy it if you want to. Mow it or weed it or just leave it be if you don't want to eat it. But it's nothing more to be afraid of or categorize as "poisonous" than a volunteer tomato plant.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 11:23PM
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Except that kids have died from eating as few as 10 raw poke berries, which are very attractive (and less toxic than the roots, shoots and leaves). I don't know of anyone who has died from eating tomato leaves, but kids aren't as tempted by leafy greens as berries.

Your choice - I eat dandelion greens and wild violets, of course wild raspberries, blueberries, blackcaps and blackberries, wild strawberries, even tried elderberry (not worth it IMO, too much trouble to pick/sort and make into jelly, flavor is "acquired taste" I guess) but pokeweed I leave alone. Chokecherry too.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 7:50AM
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I'd be curious to learn any details about any children that have actually died from eating poke berries. As a study on pokeberry toxicity done by the school of pharmacy at Southwestern State College quoted another source by way of introduction: "...compilers dealing with poisonous plants have often felt an obligation to carry a plant into newer literature even though uncertain of the original authority. This...may perpetuate error, and may appear to validate what was established on tenuous evidence." That particular study was conducted on mice and found that: "If human beings are equally sensitive (or resistant) to Poke berry poisoning as were the mice used, it would take about 45 pounds of fresh berries to kill an average adult male."

In any case, poke isn't going to produce berries until it reaches what the OP called a "bush," and it's common enough that I wouldn't see any need to purposefully allow it grow in any given place even if I did want to eat it.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 12:04PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


When you say you leave chokecherry alone, do you mean the berries? I have grown up with chokecherry jam and IMHO it is the best jam I've had. We have had no ill effects from the berries in decades.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 1:25PM
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