Saturday, June 22, 2013

Johnny Poke Seed

Phytolacca americana - Pokeweed

Early last year, I collected a few seeds from a pokeweed, Phytolacca americana, that had spontaneously arisen among some saw palmetto palms (Serenoa repens) in a local park. The seeds were duly planted and I selected one seedling to pot up and, eventually, plant in the ground in my front yard. That plant happily grew and produced an enormous number of fruits, much to the delight of the local mockingbirds. Unfortunately, its large size was threatening its more delicate neighbors so I consigned it to the compost bin.

This spring, I noticed its progeny popping up here and there. The photograph above shows a plant growing in my neighbor's yard along our mutual fence line. The picture below is a close-up of the flowers of that same plant. Another plant showed up on my property about 100 feet (30.48 meters) from where the parent plant had been removed. And speaking of the parent plant, a seedling came up inches away from the site of the original plant and that seedling is now about 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall and beginning to flower and fruit. It looks as if pokeweed is here to stay in my yard and, with the help of some feathered friends, perhaps other yards and vacant lots in the neighborhood.

Update: Since this blog post was published on 22 June 2013, the pokeweed established about 100 feet (30.48 meters) from the parent plant died. When I pulled it up from the ground, its root system had rotted, presumably as the result of the torrential, record-breaking rains that Palm Beach County had this spring and early summer.

Phytolacca americana - Pokeweed

Images and text © 2013 Rufino Osorio

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