September 27, 2011


Do you have Pokeweed growing at your house? 

 The plant is poisonous to humans, from its roots to the leaves and berries.
Did you know it is only in the very early spring, that the very young shoots are edible? 
But you need to know exactly where the pokeweed grew to be able to identify the new growth. You will notice the hollow dried stalks turned white and bent over from the winter and the new shoots will be emerging right there. If you are not 100% sure, never never eat it.

We love watching the transformation of this perennial plant. It can reach 10 feet tall and leaves can be 12 inches long. The stems starts out green and turns a gorgeous magenta color, 
The berry cluster starts as white flowers then green to dark purple berries.
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
Even though the plant is poisonous, with awareness and caution, children CAN come in contact with this plant. Tell them all about the plant and why they shouldn't touch it. When children know the reasons why, it all makes sense to them.

Pokeweed is a value to wildlife and quite attractive in the landscape. It would be a shame to rip it out in fear of its poisonous aspect. 

Pokeweed berries are an important food source for wild life. American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, Red Fox, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, and White-footed Mouse all eat the berries.

We drew the plant in our nature journals. It was fun coloring the bright colors of the stems and leaves.

Then . . .we donned disposable gloves, picked the leaves, scrunched them and made designs on paper. The berries were the best part, we squished them and drew with them noticing which berries made the brightest color.

Some other fun activities with Pokeweed: 

  • make dye from the berries and dye wool roving, yarn or muslin
  • make ink from the dye and write with a quill pen. It is said they wrote the Declaration of Independence with Pokeweed ink. 

happy day!


oldgreymare said...

I have said it before and will again. How fortunate those children and their parents are to have found you. :D

marcia said...

Thanks Z..(blushing).

I feel honored to be with the CHILDREN. They have enriched my life more than I thought possible.

happy day!
love marcia

Valarie said...

I love the colors you made with your pokeweed excursion. I have this stuff growing all around the house. I'm so glad the birds like it and now I know what I can do with it too. Nice lesson.

Anonymous said...

Nice post about Blogger: CHILD IN HARMONY - Post a Comment. I am very impressed with the time and effort you have put into writing this story. I will give you a link on my social media blog. All the best!

marcia said...

Hi Valarie!
It also makes a great dye and fun to make into ink. It eventually turns brown on the paper. I have heard they wrote the Declaration of Independence with Pokeweed berry ink.

happy day!