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Re: poke


> From: cathy carpenter <cathyc@rnet.com>
> But this "weed" must have its place, as it has not taken over the 
> eastern US, despite the fact it is native. What are its natural
controls?
----------

Well, Cathy, it may not have taken over the entire eastern US, but
that's not from lack of trying.  My neighbors have a berm with a
fence on top of it so they can't see what is growing on it (and don't
care)...it is about 70' long and completely covered in poke of
majestic proportions.  

I go up there every year and cut it down - do not have the time to
try to dig it up - in the vain hopes that it won't spread more seed. 
My property at the bottom of that berm turned into a total sea of
poke seedlings when I cleared for my deer fence...seed that must have
been lying there, waiting for some light for years and years.   

Have spent many, many hours trying to deal with it and can't get
ahead of it.  I tried pulling when they were first spotted, but we're
talking a swath about 30' - 40' wide by 70' long with seedlings as
thick as grass...didn't make all that much headway as there were a
few other things I needed to do in the garden:-) and it kept
sprouting throughout the season.  Last year, I ended up just cutting
it back so it wouldn't seed as it was trying to.  I have many hours
of digging ahead, now as it's past pullable stage:-(

Deer will nibble on the younger leaves, but don't really keep the
plants in check.  I've never seen any insect damage (more's the pity)
and don't know of anything that eats it nor have I seen disease
problems.  It prefers sun but will grow in deep shade, albeit not
very lustily...but it grows and flowers and sets seed on plants only
a foot or two tall.

It can be a big pest in agricultural land, I have read.  It would
have to be a pretty potent herbicide to knock down a mature plant -
as I said, the roots get huge and go down many feet.  In one season,
from seed, it can develop a root as big around as your thumb and over
6" deep...

One of the interesting things about poke is that you seldom read much
about its invasive tendencies on the native plant sites who list many
horticultural plants as 'exotic invasives'...in fact, I have read it
recommended as an alternate to 'exotic' plants....I just shake my
head in wonder...might as well recommend Kudzu or garlic mustard,
IMO.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
mtalt@hort.net
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