I really should pay more attention to my calendar. Not until yesterday did I realize it was already the fourth Wednesday of September, the day to celebrate Wildflower Wednesday hosted by the queen of natives, Gail of Clay and Limestone.
I have Sophie to thank for my entry for this month. Despite all her good qualities, Sophie does like to explore a bit and has never quite mastered the command "Come," at least when I am uttering that word, especially in desperation. (She obeys my husband, my children, my grandchildren--anybody but me; I guess she knows I'm really a pushover.) During the summer her boundaries were clearly defined with dense soybean plantings bordered by tall corn surrounding our farm. But now that the harvest is done, Sophie has discovered a whole new world to explore! Apparently, there are all kinds of new scents and treasures to be found in the fields beyond our house. This has meant on several occasions lately I have had to trudge across bean stubble (usually in PJ's; hope the neighbors don't notice) to convince her it's time to come home.
On one of these excursions last week I was walking behind the barn, a place I usually never go, and noticed these dark purple berries growing on a tall
"The leaves are smooth, up to 12" long and 3" wide, with long red stalks. The small, greenish-white flowers are about 1/4" across, lack petals, but have 5 greenish sepals and from 5-30 stamens" (Kurz, Illinois Wildflowers).
The purple to black berries have a juice that stains and which has been used for coloring foods as well as a red dye and ink. The berries are a favorite of birds. The leaves of young plants are sometimes cooked and served as "poke salad"--remember the old song "Poke Salad Annie" ? But since the root and stem are poisonous, I'm not sure I'd care to taste any poke salad:)
Pokeweed can grow up to 10 feet tall. It's hard to tell perspective from this photo, but I can assure you that this plant extended several feet above my head, so it was at least 8, if not 10, feet tall. Next to it are other
While I had intended just to focus on the pokeberry today, I was curious about this tall plant with the daisy-like flowers, too. The only thing I can find in my wildflower book that looks similar is a False Aster, Boltonia Asteroides. It can grow up to 6 feet tall, though mine is even taller. If anyone can confirm this i.d. or suggest another possibility, I'd appreciate it.
While my garden could use more fall color, there is no shortage of four-season interest plants around the farm. I just never know what I might find when I go out exploring the "back forty" with Sophie.
For more interesting looks at fall wildflowers, be sure to visit our enthusiastic hostess Gail of Clay and Limestone.