The Mystery Plant was positively identified by the Wichita -Sedgwick County Extension Office as POKE WEED! Remember the hit song about a hundred years ago called "Poke Salad Annie"?
Well, this is the the weed he was singing about. It is my understanding that the juice from the berries was used to sign the US Constitution. Many people, especially from the South, wrote to tell me that eventhough every part of Poke Weed is poisionous to humans and all other mammals; when prepared properly - at just the right stage, the young leaves can be eaten like spinach. Thus the name of the song. I guess Annie was a conniseur of Poke Weed. Birds also can eat the berries without ill effect because the seeds are so hard that they just pass through their innards without even a howdy do! So. Saying all that. Please folks - Don't try this at home! It could kill you! Or at least look up Annie to show you how it's done. I have heard but I'm not about to tell you! One nice guy on my Garden Messanger asked me to save some seeds for him with the next crop. I'm hoping for a complete crop-failure with this weed!
The plants are pretty hard to eradicate. Just cutting them off or such won't do it. [All you Organic Gardening Purists cover your ears now] Different harsh herbicides must be used depending on the season that you try to do battle with it! Consult your local Extension Office for details.
In order for you to identify this noxious weed at all stages, I delayed in doing a recap of theMystery Weed. Here is the complete sequence from young plant to maturity. The picture you won't see, to avoid making Poke Salad fans cry, is where I viciously chopped it down and got it out of my garden. I'm sure next spring it will return from the roots with a vengence. But Now I know what needs to be done to erradicate it. Here goes:
Very young Poke Weeds only a week or two old
Young Poke Weed near Blooming stage.
Notice the white blooms.
Mature Poke Weed Flower
Close-up of Maturing Berries and Flowers
Nearly mature leaves,