August 12, 2009

In The Fields

My cattle-raising neighbors call this plant "sneezeweed", and they say it's poison.

In the early summer, many pastures are so full of sneezeweed that from the road they look like blankets of yellow flowers. I've spent the last several summers pulling these plants whenever I see them in my pasture or my yard.

This is poke weed, in the berry stage. The berries are poisonous to humans.

I've seen my goats eat the leaves of poke weed during certain times of year, and it doesn't seem to bother them. I haven't noticed any of them eating the berries. The horses often have purple stains on their coats from the ripe berries.

The stalks of the berries are interesting-looking, I think. The berries look like buttons on plastic stalks.

This year the poke plants seem to be very prolific, and I am waging war on them, pulling them out by the roots. Those red stems are very thick and strong. They grow along the fencelines and under trees, spread by the birds that eat the berries.

Other plants in my pasture, such as yellow dock and plantain, are allowed to remain. There is a patch of mullein that I encourage to grow. Mullein is a remedy for earache and other human conditions.

The broomweed is growing and will soon bloom. I was told by a Native American woman that broomweed is used as a flu remedy. I will be foraging some of this in case we need it.


  1. when I was little my parents would take us out to the foundry pasture behind the cows and I would ride in a tractor scoop and they would pick huge black trashbags full of polk. I don't remember actually eating it but I know we did. I haven't had any since so I couldn't tell you what it was like.

  2. Anonymous10:53 PM

    A lot of people cook & eat polk leaves just like other greens. Polk salad is like wilted lettuce. It's pronounced "poke". (smile)

    I have seen that yellow flower you called sneezeweed. I didn't know it was poisonous.


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