Stay at Home Nature: Pokeweed

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Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Happy to see American Pokeweed poking up in the yard today.

Most years, it’s too much work to process for safe eating, so I let the pokeweed grow.
This time—this particular spring—the thought of boiling *toxic* yard greens three successive times in clean water is no big whoop.

I mean,
just this morning I ground my own flour to make pancakes;
I made broth from scraps;
I planted butts of celery, cabbage, and carrots;
I made new pickles with old pickle juice,
and I made a mask out of a yarmulke (because the mask-from-a-bra idea didn’t work). 

No big whoop.

And pokeweed will be such comfort for lunch: “poke salet” slopped with salt and butter and heaped in blue willow china.

Luckily, I have enough pokeweed to keep one plant myself, and leave the rest for the birds. Pokeweed as human food is “cut and come again:” so I can keep eating the fresh 6″‘ stalks as they regrow.

But the other plants here and there in the yard I will leave for Wildlife.
The white blooms will feed insects and hummingbirds,
the gorgeous pink berries will feed fruit-eating birds,
and the whole plant will be a restaurant for insect-eaters (like assassin bugs).
And being perennial, the whole cycle will happen again same place, same time next year.

It would be an even bigger comfort to know we’ll all be back to see it.

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the berries in September

o  o  o

Do read the Humane Gardener’s post in support of the value, the functions, the beauties of American Pokeweed. The article is “Pokeweed: Something to write home about.” And while you’re there, stay and look around. She is one of my #gardeningforwildlife heroes.

For Pokeweed as human food, see Green Deane at Eat the Weeds. In fact, see him for any questions about eating things found in your yard.

o o o

About the author:

My Instagram feed is 100% nature, and most of it the Sidewalk kind.
No selfies. No shots of my teacup unless there is an interesting plant or animal floating in it.

I’m not fond of facebook, but some people are on it who aren’t on Instagram, so I post nature things there from time to time.

Bio: Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world. Her essays have appeared in BrevityFourth GenreHippocampusThe HopperFlyway, The CommonCity CreaturesThe Fourth River and other journals. She writes about everyday natural wonders amid everyday habitat loss at SidewalkNature.com and @Jo_Brichetto on Instagram. Her current project is a book of linked essays called Paradise in a Parking Lot.

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