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pokeberry poison plant

Pokeberry is a highly versatile plant with a wide range of uses. Although it is often considered a weed due to its rapid growth and invasive tendencies, it has also been used in traditional medicine for centuries. In addition to its medicinal properties, pokeberry is also used for food and dye. Due to its poison, I am not one to use this plant. I do not support medicinal use or culinary use, there are so many other wild plants I see no reason to mess with the pokeberry poison plant.

Common Names:

Pokeberry is known by several different common names, including poke, poke salad, inkberry, pigeonberry, and pokeberry weed.


Poke weed is an herbaceous perennial plant that can grow up to 10 feet tall under ideal conditions. The plant typically grows in disturbed areas such as fields, roadsides, and forest edges.

Pokeberry has simple leaves on green to red or purplish stems and a large white taproot. The flowers are green to white

The leaves of poke weed are simple and alternate, with a length of 6 to 12 inches and a width of 2 to 6 inches. They are smooth and ovate, with a pointed tip and a smooth margin. The leaves are typically green but may take on a reddish or purplish tint as they mature.

The flowers of poke weed are small, white to greenish white in color, and are arranged in long, drooping clusters called racemes. The fruit of poke weed is a dark purple to black, juicy berry that is about the size of a pea. The berries contain a dark red juice that can stain skin and clothing.


Pokeberry is native to North America and can be found throughout the eastern and central regions of the United States.


It prefers moist, fertile soil and is commonly found in fields, pastures, and along roadsides.

Poison Part:

While the berries of pokeberry are edible when cooked properly, the plant is highly toxic and can be deadly if consumed in large quantities. The root, stem, leaves, and unripe berries contain high levels of toxins, including saponins and lectins. Pokeberry poison plant .

pokeweed does die back to ground level every winter, it is a difficult weed to get rid of. Winter kills off only the above-ground growth. pokeberry poison plant
Symptoms of Poison:

Ingesting pokeberry can cause a wide range of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dehydration. In severe cases, it can lead to respiratory failure and death.

Conservation Status:

Pokeberry is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is a highly adaptable plant that can

thrive in a wide range of environments and is not currently threatened by extinction.

Notes of Interest:

In addition to its medicinal and culinary uses, pokeberry has also been used as a natural dye for textiles. The deep purple color of the berries can be extracted and used to dye fabric, yarn, and other materials.

Pokeberries should be handled with care due to the toxicity. It is important to properly cook any berries before consuming them and to avoid ingesting any other part of the plant. It’s important to note that while poke weed can be used for medicinal purposes, it is also toxic and can cause severe gastrointestinal distress if ingested in large amounts. With its versatility and unique properties, pokeberry remains an important plant in North American ecology and culture.

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Red baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Red baneberry (Actaea rubra), a highly toxic plant, can be found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Despite its toxic properties, it is a popular ornamental plant due to its striking red berries and delicate white flowers. With that said, this is a plant that should be avoided if you have children or pets.

General Comments:

Red baneberry is a highly poisonous plant that can be fatal to humans and animals. It contains a toxin called protoanemonin, which can cause a wide range of symptoms when ingested, including vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, seizures, and in severe cases, cardiac arrest. It is important to exercise caution when handling or consuming any part of this plant.

Common Names:

Red baneberry is also known by a variety of other common names, including red cohosh, doll’s eyes, snakeberry, and White Baneberry


Red baneberry is a perennial herbaceous plant that can grow up to 1 foot – 3 feet tall. It has delicate white flowers that bloom in late spring or early summer, which are followed by clusters of bright red berries. As the picture shows, leaves are alternate, 2 to 3 times compound, sharply toothed and lobed. The berries are about 1/8 inch in diameter and have a distinctive black “pupil” on each one, which gives them the appearance of doll’s eyes.

Red baneberry leaves are alternate, 2 to 3 times compound, sharply toothed and lobed.


Red baneberry is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. In North America, it can be found from Alaska to Newfoundland in the north, and from California to Georgia in the south. It is also found in parts of Europe and Asia, including Russia, China, and Japan.


The plant typically grows in moist, shady areas such as forests, meadows, and along stream banks. It prefers rich, loamy soil and is often found growing alongside other shade-loving plants such as ferns, wildflowers, and mosses.


All parts of the plant are toxic, but the berries are the most poisonous. The leaves, stems, and roots also contain the toxin protoanemonin, but in smaller amounts.

Symptoms of Poison:

Ingesting any part of the red baneberry plant can cause a wide range of symptoms, including vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, seizures, and in severe cases, cardiac arrest. Symptoms typically appear within 30 minutes to 2 hours of ingestion and can last for several hours. If you suspect that you or someone else has ingested red baneberry, seek medical attention immediately.

Conservation Status:

Red baneberry is not currently listed as endangered, but it is considered a species of concern in some parts of its range. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the primary threats to this plant, as it requires specific environmental conditions to thrive. Additionally, overharvesting of the plant for its ornamental value has contributed to its decline in some areas.

Notes of Interest:

Despite its toxicity, red baneberry has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including rheumatism, fever, and snake bites. However, these uses are not supported by scientific evidence and should be avoided due to the plant’s poisonous properties.

Red baneberry is a highly toxic plant that should be handled with caution. Despite its toxic properties, it remains a popular ornamental plant due to its striking red berries and delicate white flowers. If you encounter this plant in the wild, admire it from a safe distance and do not attempt to handle or consume any part of it.


•             USDA Plants Database: Actaea rubra. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2023, from

Foraging for Nettle

Foraging for Nettle: A Nutritious and Sustainable Food Source

General Comments:

Among the many plants that can be foraged, nettle (Urtica dioica) is one that stands out for its versatility and abundance. Although often considered a weed, nettle has been used for centuries for food, medicine, and fiber. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of foraging for nettle, its description, territory, habitat, edible parts, how and when to harvest, conservation status, notes of interest and a nutrition chart based on studies from the USDA.

Common Names

Nettle is known by many names depending on the region and language. Some of its common names include stinging nettle, common nettle, giant nettle, devil’s leaf, and burn weed. The scientific name, Urtica dioica, derives from the Latin word “uro,” which means “to burn,” referring to the plant’s stinging hairs.


Nettle is a perennial plant that can grow up to six feet tall. As can be seen in the picture, it has serrated, heart-shaped leaves that are covered with tiny, hollow stinging hairs that release histamine and other chemicals when touched, causing a painful (as some may say) rash. The stems are also covered with stinging hairs. The plant produces small, greenish flowers that are wind pollinated. Nettle is one of a very few plants that can be identified in total darkness – just walk thru a patch!!

stinging nettle plant contains ingredients that might decrease swelling and increase urination.


Nettle is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, but has been naturalized in many parts of the world, including North America, Australia, and New Zealand. It grows in temperate and tropical climates and can thrive in a variety of soil types.


Nettle grows in a variety of habitats, including fields, forests, meadows, and disturbed areas such as roadsides and abandoned lots. It prefers moist, nitrogen-rich soil and can often be found near water sources. I have often found it near staghorn sumac and elderberry.

Edible Parts

Despite its reputation for causing painful rashes, nettle is a nutritious and versatile food source. The young leaves and shoots are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are rich in vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and protein. The leaves can be used in soups, stews, pesto, teas, and as a substitute for spinach in recipes. The roots can also be eaten and are said to have a nutty flavor.

How to Harvest

When harvesting nettle, it is important to wear gloves and long sleeves to avoid getting stung. The best time to harvest is in the spring when the young shoots and leaves are tender and before the plant flowers. Cut the leaves and stems with scissors or pruning shears and place them in a bag or basket. Be sure to only take what you need and leave enough for the plant to regenerate.

Conservation Status

Nettle is not currently listed as endangered or threatened, but its populations can be affected by habitat destruction, over-harvesting, and competition from invasive species. When foraging for nettle, it is important to do so sustainably and responsibly to ensure its continued availability.

Nettle grows near streams, along trails, and are especially common around old farm sites.

Notes of Interest

Nettle has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, including treating arthritis, allergies, and urinary tract infections. It is also a popular ingredient in traditional herbal remedies and teas. Nettle has been used as a fiber source for clothing and textiles since ancient times and was even used to make fishing nets in medieval Europe.

Foraging for nettle can be a rewarding and sustainable way to obtain fresh, nutritious food. Despite its stinging hairs, nettle is a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of dishes and has many medicinal and cultural uses. When foraging for nettle, it is important to do so responsibly and sustainably to ensure its continued availability for others.

Cercospora Disease Treatment

Cercospora Disease Treatment

Cercospora is a fungal disease that can affect a wide range of plants, including fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants. This disease is caused by various species of the fungal genus Cercospora. Cercospora disease treatment can be provided in several ways.

What is Cercospora?

Cercospora is a fungal disease that affects plants. The disease causes leaf spots, which can be circular, oval, or irregularly shaped, and can range in color from yellow to brown. The fungus attacks the leaves of plants, and in severe cases, it can cause defoliation.

Where can Cercospora be found?

Cercospora can be found in many parts of the world. It is commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions, but it can also occur in temperate regions. The disease can affect a wide range of plants, including fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

What causes Cercospora?

Cercospora is caused by various species of the fungal genus Cercospora. The fungus thrives in warm, moist environments, making it more prevalent in humid climates. The disease is often spread through wind and rain, as the spores are easily carried from plant to plant.

How do you identify Cercospora infection?

Cercospora infection can be identified by the appearance of leaf spots on the plant. These spots can be circular, oval, or irregularly shaped and can range in color from yellow to brown. In some cases, a yellow halo may appear around the spot. As the disease progresses, the spots may coalesce, causing the affected areas of the leaf to turn brown and die. In severe cases, the leaves may curl and become distorted, and the plant may experience defoliation.

Cercospora is caused by various species of the fungal genus Cercospora disease treatment can be handled using different methods

It is important to note that leaf spots can be caused by a variety of plant diseases, so it is essential to properly diagnose the issue. If you suspect that your plant is infected with Cercospora, it is recommended that you consult a local plant pathologist or extension service for proper identification and treatment options.

What does Cercospora do to plants?

Cercospora can cause significant damage to plants. The disease attacks the leaves of plants, causing leaf spots that can be unsightly and affect the plant’s ability to photosynthesize. In severe cases, Cercospora can cause defoliation, weakening the plant and making it more susceptible to other diseases.

How to treat Cercospora?

The best way to execute Cercospora treatment is to prevent its spread. This can be done by ensuring plants have proper spacing and adequate air circulation. Fungicides can also be used to treat Cercospora. According to a study by the University of Arkansas, fungicides containing azoxystrobin and pyraclostrobin were effective in controlling Cercospora on cucurbits (pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, etc.). Additionally, removing infected leaves and plant debris can help to reduce the spread of the disease.

Cercospora is a fungal disease that can affect a wide range of plants. The disease is caused by various species of the fungal genus Cercospora and can be found in many parts of the world. Cercospora attacks the leaves of plants, causing leaf spots and, in severe cases, defoliation. Cercospora disease treatment is handled through proper spacing, adequate air circulation, fungicides, and removing infected leaves and plant debris. By taking these steps, gardeners and farmers can reduce the spread of Cercospora and help to protect their crops.


  • McGrath, M. T. (2017). Cercospora Leaf Spot: A Threat to Vegetable Crops. Cornell Vegetable Program. Retrieved from

  • Yang, X., Wu, S., Wu, T., Lin, S., & Guo, L. (2017). Efficacy of Fungicides against Cercospora Leaf Spot on Cucurbits and Cercospora Leaf Blight on Soybeans. Plant Health Progress, 18(4), 224-228. doi:10.1094/PHP-04-17-0020-RS.

Beet Gardening for Success and Food

Beet Gardening for Success and Food

Beets are a root vegetable that has been cultivated for thousands of years. They are biennials grown as an annual in the garden. Their origin is unclear, but they are believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region or possibly in Egypt. The ancient Greeks and Romans used beets for medicinal purposes and as food. Beets were also used as a natural dye, particularly for fabric and leather. Today, they are grown all over the world, with the largest producers being Russia, the United States, and Poland. Beet Gardening for Success and Food is not difficult.

Types and Varieties of Beets

There are several varieties of beets, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common are red beets, golden beets, and chioggia beets.

Red beets are the most common. They have a deep reddish-purple color and are often used in salads, soups, and roasted dishes.

Golden beets have a bright, sunny yellow color and are milder in flavor than red beets. They are often used in salads and roasted dishes.

Chioggia beets, also known as candy-striped beets because of their striking red and white striped flesh, have a slightly sweeter taste than red beets and are often used in salads and as a garnish.

Choosing Beet Varieties: Color and Days to Maturity

When choosing a beet variety, differences such as flavor, texture, size, sugar content (the roots are typically high in sugar, 8% to 20%), and days to maturity should be considered. Here are three examples of the many to choose from:

  1. Red Ace – This variety produces round, smooth, deep-red beets that are about 3 inches in diameter. They mature in about 55 days and have a sweet, tender flesh.
  2. Golden Detroit – This variety produces medium-sized, round, golden-yellow beets that are about 2-3 inches in diameter. They mature in about 55 days and have a mild, sweet flavor.
  3. Chioggia – This variety produces medium-sized, round beets with a distinctive red and white striped flesh. They mature in about 60 days and have a sweet, tender flavor.
  4. Lutz Green Leaf is a large plant with tasty green leaves. Its baseball-sized, heart-shaped roots are sweet and tender and it and stores well. With their large size, these beets take a bit longer to mature at about 80 days.

Growing Beets Tips for Planting, Care, and Harvesting

It will take approximately 2 ounces, roughly 1,500 beet seeds, to plant a 100 foot row. In a good year, the yield would be about 80 to 100 lbs. of roots – excluding the greens. If you are planning a “year-round” food supply, plant about 10 – 15 feet per person. That would provide approximately 8 lbs. – 15lbs. per person – roughly 40 to 60 beet roots which can be turned into 8 to 15 pints of canned beets. Beet Gardening for Success and Food will provide vitamins, minerals, and important nutrients.


Beets prefer well-drained, loose soil that’s rich in organic matter. Add compost or well-rotted manure to the soil a few weeks before planting. Soil pH should range between 6.0 to 7.5. If your soil is too acidic, add lime to raise the pH level. If it’s too alkaline, add sulfur to lower the pH level.


Beets can tolerate cold and near freezing conditions but do best with temperatures from 50°F to 75°F. They do not do well in hot weather. The roots can get tough and fibrous. They are a perfect option for spring and fall crops in northern zones or as a winter crop in zone 9 and higher.

Beets can be grown by either sowing seeds directly into the garden or transplanting seedlings. Whether you decide to direct sow into the garden or start your seeds in pots, soak seeds for 24 hours before planting. You need to understand that beet “seeds” are a cluster of several small seeds together. After the seeds germinate and the seedlings are 2 inches tall pull the weaker shoots to allow the strongest the room it needs.

This variety produces round, smooth, deep-red beets that are about 3 inches in diameter. They mature in about 55 days and have a sweet, tender flesh.

When starting seeds indoors for transplanting, use small 2” x 2” pots so the seedlings have enough room to grow – both above and below the soil line. Try to start the seeds about 30 days before your last spring frost. I use a sterile seed starting mix. Soak seeds for 24 hours then plant 1/2” deep and place the pots under grow lights. When daytime temperatures are expected to average 50°F and danger of frost has past, transplant into the garden.

When direct sowing, begin planting as soon as the soil has warmed to about 45°F. Beet seeds should be planted about 1/2 inch deep and spaced about 2 inches apart, space rows about 12” to 18” apart. To ensure maximum germination, keep the soil moist. Seeds should germinate in 7 to 15 days. When the seedlings are 6” tall, pull every other plant. The final spacing between plants should be a minimum of 4” – 6”. You can use what you pull – both roots as well as greens.

Plantings can be made every 2 weeks before mid-summer. One way to judge when to stop planting in the spring is to check average temperatures in your area. When the average temperature is expected to average over 80°F, count back 60 days – that should be the last date for spring planting. For Autumn planting, start sowing seeds 10 – 11 weeks before frosts are expected.


Beets need consistent moisture to grow properly, but they don’t like to be waterlogged. Water regularly, but don’t overwater. An inch of water each week is recommended for proper growth. Mulching around the plants can help to retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Sun Exposure

Beets prefer full sun, but they can also grow in partial shade. However, if grown in too much shade, they may not develop the deep, rich color and flavor that they’re known for.


Beets are heavy feeders, however, choose a fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen than both potassium and phosphorus. Too much nitrogen will lead to more leaf growth at the detriment to the roots. You can also add a side dressing of compost or other organic fertilizer once or twice during the growing season.

Beet Gardening for Success and Food This variety produces medium-sized, round beets with a distinctive red and white striped flesh. They mature in about 60 days and have a sweet, tender flavor

Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Beets are generally resistant to pests and diseases, but there are a few that can cause problems. The most common pests are aphids and leaf miners.

Aphids can be controlled by spraying the plants with a solution of water and dish soap.

Leaf miners can be controlled by removing infected leaves and applying a natural insecticide.

Flea beetles are a common pest problem. They damage leaves by leaving numerous tiny holes in beet leaves. If the infestation is bad enough the plants can be killed. Two organic methods to control flea beetles are:

  • using floating row covers to protect the plants and
  • adding beneficial nematodes in the soil to attack and kill the beetle larvae.

Cabbage loopers, tiny green caterpillars that can destroy the plant can be controlled by using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to control.

A common disease affecting beets is powdery mildew. This can be prevented by ensuring good air circulation around the plants and avoiding overhead watering. If powdery mildew does occur, remove infected leaves and apply a natural fungicide.

Keep beets well-irrigated to prevent scab, the same disorder that affects potatoes, causing raised brown rough spots on the mature roots.

Boron deficiency in the soil can cause an internal breakdown or browning. This is most likely to occur in alkaline soils after prolonged hot, dry periods. If this happens, get a soil test to confirm. Adding one tablespoon of borax to a gallon of water will provide enough boron for a 250 square foot garden to fix.

Damping can impact seedlings (both direct sow as well as in the greenhouse) Different forms of soil-borne fungi that grow in wet, humid environments cause damping. It’s most likely damping off if the seedlings die unexpectedly not long after planting, and the plants look discolored and decaying. Enable the seed-starting mix to dry entirely before watering, and make sure your soil has good drainage. Do not overwater your plants.

Cercospora leaf spot is a fungus that occurs on the leaves as dark, patchy spots that may be yellow in color. Remove the affected leaves and throw them out, avoid touching healthy looking leaves. If your beets are planted close together, thin them out, so crowded plants have a better chance to grow. Cercospora can be controlled by spraying Mancozeb

Harvesting and Storing Beets

You should pull beets when the soil is dry. Be careful when pulling or lifting roots from the ground, if you need to use a pitchfork or shovel, do so carefully. Do not to break or injure the beets.

Beets can be harvested at any time however, they will mature at about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Be sure to cut off the leaves about 1 inch above the beet before storing. The green tops are edible, and frankly very tasty. If you cut away the greens at the root, you may cause damage and the root to bleed.

Any roots that are damaged should be used within a few weeks, they will not store well and rot spots will start at any damage. To prepare any roots for storage, carefully rub soil from the roots, try not to wash but if you do, dry them.

Beets can be stored in a cool, dry place for several weeks. Store beets in a cold moist place as near to freezing as possible without actual freezing, 32°-40°F and 95 percent relative humidity in a container—a bucket or plastic storage box or cooler with moist sand, peat moss, or sawdust. Don’t pack roots too tightly; if the roots touch they can start to rot; be sure to leave 2 inches (5 cm) of insulating material around at the top, bottom, and sides of the stored roots. Set the lid loosely so that there is good air circulation.

For long term storage, beets can be cooked for about twenty minutes then frozen. They can also be pressure canned or pickled and canned using a hot water method, see Ball Jar Recipe Blog for recipes for both methods of canning.

By following these tips for planting, care, and harvesting, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest and enjoy a beet gardening for success and food

The below chart provides the calories, vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients provided by 100 grams (roughly 3 ounces) of raw beets. The information from this chart comes from USDA Nutrient Database

Beet Gardening for Success and Food

Purple Flowering Raspberry

Purple Flowering Raspberry – Rubus odoratus

General Information:

Rubus odoratus, commonly known as Purple Flowering Raspberry or Virginia Raspberry, is a deciduous shrub native to the eastern regions of North America. It belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae) and is closely related to other brambles like blackberries and raspberries.

Common Names:

Purple Flowering Raspberry is known by several common names, including Virginia Raspberry, Flowering Raspberry, and Thimbleberry.


The plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and has large, dark green leaves with three to five lobes. The stem is prickly and covered with fine hairs. The flowers are pink to purple and have five petals, which give them a rose-like appearance. The fruit is a small, red raspberry that is edible and sweet but not as flavorful as other raspberry varieties.

Purple Flowering Raspberry is native to the eastern regions of North America

Found in Rotterdam NY along the Mohawk River

The plant can be confused with other raspberry or blackberry plants, especially when not in bloom. However, the plant’s distinctive pink to purple flowers make it easy to identify when in bloom.


This raspberry is native to the eastern regions of North America, from Quebec and Ontario south to Georgia and Alabama. It is found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, meadows, and along roadsides and stream banks.

Preferred Habitat:

Purple Flowering Raspberry prefers well-drained soil and partial to full shade. It can tolerate a range of soil types, including sandy and rocky soils.

Edible Parts:

The fruit is edible and sweet but not as flavorful as other raspberry or blackberry varieties. The fruit can be eaten fresh, cooked, or used to make jams and jellies.


The fruit of ripens in late summer or early fall. It can be harvested by hand, but the prickly stems make it difficult to pick. It is recommended to wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting.

Interesting Facts:

Purple Flowering Raspberry is a popular ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping due to its beautiful flowers.

The plant has historically been used for medicinal purposes by indigenous people in North America.

The leaves and roots were used to treat various ailments, including sore throats, coughs, and fevers.

This raspberry is an important food source for wildlife, including birds and small mammals.

In conclusion, this raspberry is a beautiful and useful native plant that deserves a place in any garden or landscape. Its striking pink to purple flowers, edible fruit, and wildlife value make it a great addition to any ecosystem.


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. (2023). Rubus odoratus. Retrieved from 
Missouri Botanical Garden. (2023). Rubus odoratus. Retrieved from
United States Department of Agriculture. (2021). Plant Guide: Purple-flowering Raspberry (Rubus odoratus). Retrieved from