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Monday, July 31, 2006

i'll take 'a big ugly weed' for five hundred, alex

The question: What is this plant?


It's growing everywhere (more about the disgusting jungle which our backyard has become tomorrow), and we don't know what it is, although I'm sure someone does. My mother the plant nerd insisted that I take a picture so that she could look it up when she got home (she should be on her way home from the airport right now!). So here it is. Alien plant.

It doesn't really matter what it turns out to be, when you get right down to it. It could turn out to be the cure for cancer and we'd still be tearing it all out of our backyard.

Okay, maybe if it's really the cure for cancer we'll, like, replant it. Towards the back.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's poke weed. Ever here the song Poke Salad Annie? Leaves and berries are toxic to folks when raw so don't be putting on your ceasar salad. Birds love the berries and spread it everywhere. So get rid of it before they ripen or you'll have more plants next year. As you can imagine, I think the berries add an extra lovely purple staining dye to bird droppings. Here's a link from Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokeweed

amanda said...

polkberries aka poisonberries
Legend has it that Native Americans used the purple berries to make a dye with... at least that's what they taught me in SC Public Schools on Culture Day or something...

Scout said...

Ok, I don't know the technical name for it, BUT it's not poison sumac. Many people see that plant and tend to think it's poison sumac, but it's definitely not. I've dug up a few this year and the roots are a pain to exhume, but if you don't get them the suckers will sprout right back up. Here's the thing though, those little green berries will turn purple in another couple of weeks. Pluck the plants out now or at least cut off all the branches with the berries. The juice from the berries, once they turn purple, does not wash out of anything. Not even bleach or oxi-clean can get the stains out. Also, I'm pretty sure it doesn't cure cancer, but it does grow at an alarming rate.

Quietnightwing said...

Yup, it's Poke Weed. I found lovely photos at http://kaweahoaks.com/html/poke.html. It apparently grows 10 feet tall, and has be become a noxious weed. The berries and roots are poisonous, but the young leaves can be eaten if cooked properly. It may not cure cancer but:

"Poke weed (Phytolacca americana) is an American perennial shrub which has been used as folk medicine to treat viral and fungal infections for centuries. It contains triterpenoid saponins, alkaloids, phytolaccic acid, formic acid, lectins, tannin, antiviral protein (PAP), fatty oil, resin, and sugars."

Apparently, they are doing research on what it's good for.

I say, tear it out - wearing gloves to protect from the poisons! The yard is overgrown with the stuff.

Bonk at Home said...

This plant is a cancer. We were oblivioius to this plant a few years ago and we're still pulling up seedings.

John said...

In the South, folks make a cooked salad out of the leaves.

They harvest the young leaves (small & tender at the top of the plant) and boil them in water. Drain, add more water and boil a second time. Some suggest that you drain, add water and boil a third time. This removes most of the toxins. Drain the leaves, saute them in bacon drippings, add an egg or two and scramble it into the leaves.

It's a poorman's food and dying in popularity. Really, it's pretty good but probably not a food for everyone.

There is also a medicine you can make for baby chickens, but I don't know the recipe.

Sorry, probably more information than you're looking for.

Summer said...

We used to call it Poke Salad in Texas, and yes, it's edible, though I never knew how to cook it! My brothers used to cut it down, sharpen the stalks into swords and fight each other with it. Good fun!

Anonymous said...

you should grow this stuff like mad and sell it to pharmaceutical companies. Pokeweed produces PAP or Pokeweed antiviral protein. The protein blocks protein synthesis and has been used to combat HIV-1, Herpes, polio and influenza!! It is a weed but then so were a lot of plants before they became drugs!!

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