After writing an article about common pokeweed (Weed du Jour – Common Pokeweed), I was especially aware this year of how many pokeweed plants were popping up in the yard and garden. It seemed like every time I turned around there was another pokeweed plant growing somewhere.
While I know that pokeweed is spread by birds eating the berries, I didn’t think there was that much pokeweed growing in the area for the birds to eat.
How wrong I was!
While pokeweed can hide a little in the summer, blending in with other plants and weeds, in the fall it becomes more obvious. By this time the plants are the size of small trees. The stems turn a reddish color and the clusters of berries hang down, covered with fruit that are dark purple bordering on the edge of black when ripe.
I’ve come to realize that pokeweed is everywhere here is south-central PA! From vacant lots to hedgerows to untended gardens and yards, large pokeweed plants are coming out of hiding, filled with berries. The birds are having a feast and the seeds are being spread, ensuring that I’ll be pulling up more pokeweed next gardening season. Since each of the berries contains 10 seeds, the birds don’t have to eat too many to spread a lot of pokeweed throughout the area!
As if to confirm my conclusions, I was thinking about this post while driving and all of a sudden a bird dropping hit the windshield. Unlike most bird droppings, this one was a bright purple/red color. There are no berries around at this time of year that would give this color to a bird’s droppings except for one – pokeweed!
When a weed seed is spread by birds, there’s not much that you can do to prevent it from making its way into the garden. The only thing to do is be diligent with the hoe and keep the plants from getting established. That’s certainly the case with pokeweed!