Pokeweed- Weed ID Wednesday
Common Pokeweed is an herbaceous perennial that can grow up to 9 ft tall, have a taproot over a foot long, leaves are reddish underneath, have a little white flower, and produce little berries that turn from green to red. Leaves and berries can be toxic if consumed. A mature plant will resemble a small bush or shrub, but the stem is not woody. They can be present in pastures and hayfields but are often found on fence lines, power lines, or around working areas where birds can find a place to rest. Many birds use the berries as a food source.
Since pokeweed can grow so large, it can compete for space and resources that the grass around it could be using instead. Consider removing it from production fields soon as it spreads by seed. First-year plants can be removed by hand pulling if small enough. Take into consideration the large taproot and needing to remove it all for best control. Note where you removed the plants from, you will need to revisit these places later on to see if any pokeweed is returning. For more mature plants, hand removal could be cutting the plant back multiple times during the spring and summer. Again, you will need to make notes and commit to revisiting the same sites to confirm control.
If most of the pokeweed in your pastures or hayfields are located around working facilities or high traffic areas, it may be best to consider spot spraying. Especially if plants are past being able to be hand removed, spot spraying a systemic herbicide such as glyphosate, can be effective in killing the plants because it will travel to the taproot. A broadleaf herbicide, such as 2,4-D can be effective if properly applied according to the label.
Be sure to read the label in full of any product you choose to use. Many different methods of control can be effective but make sure you’re following up to see if any further action is needed. Scout your pastures and call your local Extension agent!