Trailside Pokeweed of Summer’s End


As summer heat begins to fade, Pokeweed, a native shrub-like plant, accelerates its growth and draws attention to the edge zones of many of our most popular trails and woodlands of the Oakland County landscape. It often appears under power lines and is rather common in sections of our larger parks and State Recreation Areas. Sometimes, it thrives within front and back yards of homes and near areas of new construction. At night, its ripening fruits take on a special eye-catching beauty when captured by a camera’s lens. However, by the time pumpkins are coated with frost, pokeweed mysteriously vanishes.

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Pokeweed: Facts, Folklore and Warnings


img_4958Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana) is drawing attention in these closing days of summer. This colorful native plant with a controversial cultural and folk history has even poked up without invitation at the edge of the manicured Cranbrook Gardens.

Not many plants have a song, but this one does. In 1969 Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie” became an instant country hit with memorable melancholy lyrics describing the lifestyle and family misfortunes of Annie, a Louisiana woman who gathered the leaves of pokeweed to feed her family.“She’d go out in the evenings to pick a mess of it… Carry it home and cook it for supper, ’cause that’s about all they had to eat.”  As for her biggest misfortunes; a gator ate her granny. Continue reading