Unearthed a THING in my backyard

ladychroe(z6 NJ)May 17, 2005


Last year, there was this large plant with black berries on it growing in my backyard. It was uninvited, so when I saw a spout coming up in the same spot this year, I tried to pull it out. It wouldn't come out, so I got a shovel and started digging.

A half hour later, I had unearthed a huge...THING... weighed several pounds, it looks like a twisty potato that's a foot and a half long and four inches thick! I'm assuming it's a corm or something. Does anyone know what kind of plant this is?

The plant had red stems, maybe 4 feet high, and there were 4-inch cylinder-shaped black berry clusters at the end of each branch.

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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

What you have me lady is Pokeberry, deposited by one of the local birds and which will come up each year unless you extricate that sweet potato on steroids tuber root.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 4:00PM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

I have recently assaulted a great number of pokeberry plants with the weedkiller, roundup. But, in years past, and for one meal this spring (before using any spray)we have picked the shoots while less than 6 inches long. They make a tasty and healthy boiled or steamed vegetable. Any bigger than this size will develop a potent poison and should not be eaten.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 9:28PM
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AH! it has a name! This weed has been called "mutant weed" "Audry II" and lots of foul names. We have tried Weed killer POURED into the root, gasoline, chopping, hacking, burning... Every year it comes back. This year my husband managed to dig up the offending plant by hacking the roots with a machete! The root ball was well over a foot and many feet down. As I garden I see little "seedlings" sprouting up of this retchid smelly, milky, spongy, plant and I pull and yank them out daily. I fear my yard will never be truely free of them... but thanks for the ID! We can now start a mutant weed support group.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 12:23AM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

Thank you! I looked it up, and pokeberry it is... well, pokeberry it was. Looking around I found three more sprouting, but the root things were small and easy to dig out. I was too scared to fry em up and eat them, Bogturtle. So I went and got some Swiss chard from the store, and it looked the same.

As kids, we had one in our backyard, and we used to make "paintings" by crushing the berries on the patio. Good thing we were smart enough not to try eating them, right?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2005 at 1:58PM
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bogturtle(SE NJ 7a)

I really like swiss chard and poke not only look the same after cooking, but tastes similar. Always a good choice sticking with the familiar. Poke was, and may still be, a common Spring vegetable in the southern mountains. Fiddle heads from the common ostrich fern are a familiar vegetable in Southern Maine, but I was leary of eating that for the first time.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 5:03PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

We use to call them ink berries and use to whip them at each other. That was back when you were allowed outside without your parents. (We did know they were poisonous).

I have seen some attractive stands of pokeberry. There is even a variegated type available. I was stupid enough to let one grow on when we first bought this house as we weren't landscaping yet. Even though I dug that one out eventually, I have to deal with seedlings every year and as you say, they don't just pull out. Those seeds must live on a while.

I'm afraid to eat them. I also have what I am sure is lycium in my yard and I am afraid to eat those berries too. That is another thing that doesn't go away.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 9:48AM
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Katstoomany(6 - NJ)

This is just too funny! NOT! So that's what that thing is ... a pokeberry. Yes, I knew a bird had something to do with it's arrival about 4-5 years ago. Since mine is in a very small wooded area with other bushes, nesting birds and rabbits, I have attempted some diplomatic approachs. Cutting certainly didn't work. I think I cut back to ground and poured something strange and then covered it with a black plastic bag so it couldn't get sun & might die trying. Nope! It's back again. So, is there a reasonable conclusion on how to get rid of this "thing"? I really don't like to use poisons. Tx, Kathy

    Bookmark   May 25, 2005 at 7:51PM
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ladychroe(z6 NJ)

Kathy, I haven't seen hide nor hair of it since I dug it up. I guess from what I've read that it's the only way. It wasn't too hard to do because it doesn't seem to have a whole lot of roots coming out from that tuber. So once you dig down, the whole thing pops out rather easily.

You just have to be careful to get all the pieces because it seems like they might sprout if you don't.

Thanks, everybody.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 9:46AM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Yes, seems you can dig it out. Maybe some of the small plants that came up were from residual roots, I don't know but just keep digging I guess.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2005 at 9:10PM
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