Plant that is a weed with hot seed

Plant that is a weed with hot seed

An exotic hot pepper variety having 3″ long fruits that ripen from green to black to red and have a fairly hot flavor. The fruits remain at the black stage for a number of weeks providing an exotic and ornamental look to the plant. In addition, stems and leaves are covered in silvery hairs. Plants show tall, upright growth up to 3-5 feet. The variety is also known to overwinter quite well in relatively frost free climates.

Seed Availability

Seeds are now available at our seed store.

Days to Maturity

Heat Level

Origin

Originally from Venezuela.

Germination Info

Start seeds in small containers from 8-10 weeks prior to the last frost date. Plant seeds approximately 1/4-1/2″ deep in moist, well drained potting soil. Most standard soil mixes are suitable for pepper seeds. Soil temperature must be kept at 75-90F for proper germination. Cool soil, particularly at night can inhibit or significantly delay germination. To keep soil temperature warm, start seeds indoors, in a greenhouse and/or use a seed starting heat mat. Keep soil moderately moist, though not overly, dripping wet. Water soil when the soil surface just begins to dry. Allow proper air circulation for containers.

Optionally, seeds can be dipped in a dilute hydrogen peroxide mix (1 tsp hydrogen peroxide per cup water) for one minute to disinfect seeds prior to planting. If your soil or seed sprouting setup is susceptible to mold growth this can be useful to kill mold spores.

Once seedlings have sprouted, keep in small containers until a few sets of leaves have developed. Transplant to larger containers or outdoors. If transplanting outdoors, make sure to harden off seedlings by exposing them to only filtered sunlight for up to 1-2 weeks. Thin plants to 3-4 ft and rows to 6-10 ft.

Estimated germination time under optimal conditions: 2-6 weeks

Additional Pictures

Related Species

Solanaceae – Peppers
Aji de Jardin Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Anaheim Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Beaver Dam Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Black Cuban Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Chimayo Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Chinese Five Color Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Chocolate Cherry Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Cubanelle Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum
de Arbol Pepper
Fish Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum
Fresno Pepper
Fushimi Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Goat Horn Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Goat’s Weed Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Golden Cayenne Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Golden Marconi Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Golden Nugget Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum
Guajillo Pepper
Hawaiian Sweet Hot Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum
Hot Banana Pepper
Indian PC-1 Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Jalapeno Early Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum
Japanese Pepper
Jimmy Nardello Frying Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum
Kung Pao Pepper
Marbles Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Capsicum annuum
New Mexico Pepper
Capsicum annuum
NuMex Twilight Pepper
Orange Thai Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Padron Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Pepperoncini Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Pequin Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Peter Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Red Mushroom Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Santa Fe Grande Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Santaka Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Sheepnose Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Thai Dragon Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Vietnamese Multi Color Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Zimbabwe Black Pepper
Capsicum annuum
Pimenta de Neyde Pepper
Capsicum annuum x chinense
Aji Cito Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
Aji Habanero Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
Aji Omnicolor Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
Aji Panca Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
Aji Pineapple Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
Dong Xuan Market Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
Peanut Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
Rain Forest Pepper
Capsicum baccatum
7 Pot Barrackpore Pepper
Capsicum chinense
7 Pot Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Aji Dulce 1 Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Aji Dulce Yellow Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Aji Limo Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Aji Llanero Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Aji Yuquitania Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Aribibi Gusano Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Bhut Jolokia Pepper (Ghost Pepper)
Capsicum chinense
Black Cayman Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Black Habanero
Capsicum chinense
Bod’e Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Condor’s Beak Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Congo Trinidad Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Devil’s Tongue Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Fatalii Cream Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Flaming Icicle Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Grenada Seasoning Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Habanero Pastel Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Harold’s St. Barts Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Malaysian Goronong Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Capsicum chinense
Orange Habanero Pepper
Paper Lantern Habanero Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Red Habanero Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Rocotillo Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Sweet Datil Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Trindad Scorpion Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Trinidad Douglah Pepper, 7 Pot Chocolate Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Trinidad Sunrise Scorpion Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Wild Brazil Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Yellow Bhut Jolokia Pepper
Capsicum chinense
Tabasco Pepper
Capsicum frutescens
Zimbabwe Bird Pepper
Capsicum frutescens

Copyright � 2013 Trade Winds Fruit. All Rights Reserved. Designed by PSHelper.

Plant that is a weed with hot seed

This is a follow up article to a blog that my colleague, Guy Kyser wrote back in 2011 titled “Purple alert: Common Pokeweed”. Since that time, I probably get a dozen or so calls this time of year asking, “what is that huge weed growing in my yard with dark black berries and big green leaves.” Pokeweed!

I personally find this plant quite interesting. As a native to portions of the United States, it turns out this plant has a diverse history and in recent years it is being studied in cutting edge medical research and energy technology. Have I perked your interest? If so read on.

American pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a robust, non-woody shrub that is weedy throughout much of California. Native to the eastern United States from Maine to Wisconsin, south to Texas, Mexico and Florida, pokeweed now occurs throughout much of North America. It is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental or garden vegetable, however more often it’s considered an undesirable weed. Pokeweed is found in riparian areas, oak woodlands, forest edges, fence rows, forest openings, pastures, under power lines, disturbed areas, vineyards, orchards, cultivated fields, parks, and ornamental landscapes.

Also called poke salad, poke sallet, pokeberry, inkberry, American nightshade, American spinach, scoke, and pigeonberry, the plant’s uses are as diverse as its names. Pokeweed has an extensive history for being used as a food, medicine, herb, dye for clothing, ink for writing, colorant for wines, and much more. Although used for food, extreme caution should be used, as the entire plant is poisonous causing a variety of symptoms, including death in rare cases.

IDENTIFICATION

Pokeweed is an erect herbaceous perennial shrub, 4 to 10 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide, with large leaves and showy purple-black berries. It has a smooth, stout, purplish stem that branches extensively and can reach up to 2 inches in diameter. The bright green, elliptic leaves are smooth, tapered, and alternate on the stem. Leaves can be large, reaching up to a foot in length and 4 to 7 inches wide and have a strong unpleasant scent when crushed. The purple berries hanging from the bright green leaves and red stems in late summer are the most distinguishing characteristic of pokeweed.

BIOLOGY

Reproduction is by seed and a single plant can produce 1,500 to 7,000 seeds annually. The seeds are large, lens-shaped, glossy, and black. Seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to 50 years. Pokeweed berries serve as an important food source for many species of birds, including Robins, Cedar-waxwings, Warblers, pigeons, and many others. New populations of pokeweed are spread primarily by birds. Seeds germinate in mid spring through early summer when soils are warm and moist. Germination is followed by rapid growth.

Pokeweed flowers in mid-summer. Flowers are borne in white-pinkish clusters that hang from the branches. Flowers consist of 5 white sepals, no petals, and are erect when in bloom and begin to droop as fruits develop. Flowers are self-fertile resulting in high fruit set. Immature berries are dull green, turning glossy purple-black at maturity in late Summer.

Pokeweed’s above-ground growth dies back after the first Fall frost, leaving large skeletons that breakdown over the winter. In the Spring, plants resprout from a large fleshy taproot.

IMPACT

Pokeweed is an occasional weed throughout much of the United States and is increasing in abundance in some areas. Once seen as a wildland weed, pokeweed is now becoming more common as an urban and landscape weed. All plant parts, especially the roots, contain numerous saponins and oxalates and can be fatally toxic to humans and livestock when ingested raw or with improper preparations. Severe digestive tract irritations are the primary symptom.

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

American pokeweed has a long history in the United States. A wide variety of chemicals have been isolated from pokeweed that have medicinal properties and Native Americans have used the plant in herbal remedies for centuries. During the Civil War, soldiers wrote letters using the ink from American pokeweed berries, and the pigment is still used occasionally to dye fabrics. Pokeweed has also been a favorite staple of country cuisine since colonial times, when tender young shoots were boiled and eaten as “poke salad”. Resembling canned spinach, “Poke salad” or “Poke sallet” was once available commercially and still inspires “Poke” festivals across portions of the east coast and the Deep South. American singer-songwriter and guitarist, Tony Joe White is best known for his 1969 hit song “Polk Salad Annie”, that was performed by Elvis Presley and Tom Jones. The shoots proved so popular to the first European explorers to the New World, it is documented that early Europeans took the sprouts back to Europe where they were equally enjoyed.

While Pokeweed has been used in folk medicine to treat numerous health problems and is still used in many herbal remedies today, medical research has not shown whether pokeweed is indeed effective in treating many of these ailments. Recently a protein in the plant “pokeweed antiviral protein” shows promise in being used in treating cancer, herpes, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and for conferring broad spectrum disease resistance in agricultural crops.

Researches have also been examining pokeweed for other uses. The dark red dye made from pokeweed is currently being tested to coat fiber based photovoltaic solar cells. The dye acts as an absorber, helping the cells tiny fibers trap more sunlight to convert into power. This fiber cell technology can produce as much as twice the power that current flat-cell technology can produce, and the dye made from pokeweed is much less expensive than a polymer dye.

What’s in a name. The scientific name Phytolacca americana comes from the Greek word phyton meaning plant and lacca meaning crimson lake in reference to the deep reddish-purple fruits. The second term, americana is in obvious reference to this plant being native to America. The common name poke is derived from puccoon, pocan or poughkone (from an Algonquin Indian name for this plant). Berries were once used to make ink, hence the sometimes-used common name of inkberry. An additional common name is poke sallet, local term meaning salad.

MANAGEMENT

Prevention

Pokeweed is spread by seed and new occurrences are often were birds frequent. Monitoring for new seedlings in areas below tree canopies, along fence rows, and below other perches, often provides the best strategy for surveillance and early detection.

Mechanical

Hand pulling is effective on small plants. Once plants are established and develop an extensive root system, hand removal is difficult. Digging out established plants with a shovel is effective, but often difficult in summer when soils are dry. Cutting well below the root crown prevents regrowth. Cultivation can also be effective on new seedlings in raised beds or other areas where tilling can be used.

Cultural Control

Grazing is not considered an effective control option and animals should not be encouraged or allowed to consume large quantities of pokeweed. Seeds and foliage contain numerous saponins and oxalates and can be fatally toxic to livestock when ingested.

Biological Control

There are no biological control agents currently available for the management of pokeweed.

Chemical Control

Foliar Sprays. The effectiveness of herbicides applied to the foliage depends on three factors—timing, achieving good coverage, and concentration.

Timing. Foliar application of herbicides to pokeweed is most effective after leaves are fully developed and when the plant is actively growing. This period normally is from April into July or August, when soil moisture remains adequate.

Don’t apply herbicides before plants begin their spring growth or in late fall when plants are stressed.

Although not typically a problem, dust can cover plants growing near roadsides. Herbicides, particularly glyphosate, can readily attach to dust or soil particles, thus reducing their effectiveness.

Coverage. You can apply herbicides as a foliar spray using one of two methods. The first is spray-to-wet, where all leaves and stems should glisten following an application. Coverage, however, should not be to the point of runoff.

The other method is a low-volume foliar application called drizzle. This technique uses a higher concentration of herbicide, but you spray it at a lower volume. This method is advantageous in dense shrubbery or where access is limited. To achieve proper coverage, spray the herbicide uniformly over the entire canopy in a “drizzle” pattern, using a spray gun.

Concentration. For spray-to-wet applications, products containing at least 41% glyphosate as the active ingredient can provide good to excellent control of pokeweed when applied at 3.75 ounces of product per gallon of water (3% of the total solution). Some products available for use in the home landscape with this concentration of active ingredient are Roundup Pro Concentrate®, FarmWorks Grass & Weed Killer 41% Glyphosate Concentrate, RM43 Total Vegetation Control, Compare-N-Save Grass & Weed Killer Concentrate, and Remuda® Full Strength. Glyphosate products that have a lower concentration of active ingredient, such as Roundup Weed & Grass Concentrate (18% active ingredient), will require about 6 ounces of product per gallon of water (4.7% of the total solution) for effective control.

Triclopyr is available in either amine or ester formulations, with triclopyr ester being more effective on pokeweed. Products containing a minimum of 61% active ingredient of the ester formulation can provide good to excellent control when applied at 1 to 1.25 ounces of product per gallon of water (0.75% to 1.5% of the total solution). One such product with this concentration is Brushtox Brush Killer with Triclopyr. Other ester formulations with less concentrate are also available including Crossbow. Mixing triclopyr ester with commercially available seed oils can offer better penetration. One available product is Southern Ag Methylated Seed Oil. Mix this at 1.25 ounces of product per gallon of herbicide solution (1% of the total solution). Triclopyr is also available in the amine formulation. Products available include Bayer Bio Advanced Brush Killer Plus, Ortho Brush-B-Gon Poison Ivy and Poison Oak & Brush Killer, and Monterey Brush & Vine Control.

The drizzle application method is good in situations of dense planting, or when it is difficult to cover an entire area due to topography. Glyphosate formulated into a product with 41% active ingredient can provide good to excellent control of pokeweed when applied at 13 ounces of product per gallon of water (10% of the total solution).

You also can apply triclopyr ester using a drizzle application. Products containing 61% active ingredient should be applied using 6.5 ounces of product (5% of the total solution) and 25 ounces of seed oil (20% of the total solution) per gallon of water.

Remember that although the drizzle technique uses a higher concentration of herbicide, you are applying it at a lower volume. One gallon of mixed herbicide solution should adequately treat one-half acre of densely populated pokeweed.

The best time to apply either herbicide is during active plant growth. Seedlings can be treated in early spring through summer. Mature plants should be treated in late summer during flowering as this will draw the herbicide into the root system. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that has no soil activity and triclopyr is a broadleaf selective herbicide with very limited soil activity. When air temperatures are higher than 80°F, it is better to use glyphosate or the amine formulation of triclopyr, since the ester form is subject to vaporization.

All photos from J.M. DiTomaso and E.A. Healy, Weeds of California and Other Western States, 2007.

No endorsement of named products is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products that are not mentioned.

Mulberry Weed: A “Dirty Dozen” Plant

This week’s “Dirty Dozen” plant is mulberry weed (Fatoua villosa). In recent years, we have observed this plant creeping into our garden beds at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. So far, it has slid under the radar in Virginia, and only California, Alabama and Georgia include this plant in their invasive species lists or laws. We think you should be aware of this sneaky invasive!

Mulberry weed flowering in late fall. Image by Sarah Coffey.

Mulberry Weed

Mulberry weed, also called hairy crabweed, is a member of the mulberry family (Moraceae). This summer annual flowers in late summer and fall. It grows up to 4 feet tall but may begin prolifically spreading seeds at heights under 3 inches. Its seeds also remain viable in the soil for several years but require light for germination.

How Did it Get Here?

Mulberry weed was accidentally introduced from East Asia during the transport of imported goods and/or the return of equipment from World War II. In the United States, it was first officially documented in 1964 in Louisiana. It wasn’t until the 1990s that mulberry weed started causing trouble by “tagging along” with nursery stock being shipped across the country.

Where is it Found?

Geographic Region: Fatoua villosa is present throughout the eastern United States but is also problematic on the West Coast. You can check to see if this week has been spotted in your county and where else it has been reported in the U.S.

Habitats: It likes moist, shady environments, which is one of the reasons why it thrives in greenhouses, nurseries, and heavily irrigated agricultural fields. Its propensity for shade and moisture also make woodlands a potential habitat to invade.

What is the Impact of Mulberry Weed on the Environment?

So far, the spread of mulberry weed has been contained primarily within the landscaping/nursery industry. However, it has begun naturalizing outside of gardens and has the potential to displace native woodland plant communities. Unlike many other invasives, the problem with this plant isn’t that people are planting it on purpose—it’s that it likes to hitchhike along with ornamentals they purchase. Learning to recognize it and removing it as quickly as possible increases our chances of preventing its takeover of natural communities.

What Options Exist for Controlling Mulberry Weed?

Before considering options for control, proper identification is necessary. As the name suggests, mulberry weed resembles mulberry tree seedlings (Morus spp.). One of the easiest ways to tell them apart is that mulberry weed has hairy-looking stems. North Carolina State Extension has even more identification tips. No matter which way you choose to remove it, be sure to do so before it flowers! Otherwise, its seeds will spread, exponentially increasing the time, energy, and/or money needed for control.

Prevention: Removing seedlings from potted plants before introducing them to a landscape is the best way to prevent it from invading an area. Even so, seeds may be present in the soil along with intentionally introduced plants. This is one reason why we at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden clean our boots and tools before we leave an area, and we encourage you to do the same. Disinfecting tools and boots also prevent the spread of plant pathogens. Another tip for preventing the growth of seedlings is mulching garden beds (between 2-3 inches).

Mechanical: In our experience, mulberry weed is easy to remove by hand or with a digging knife when it is small. Bigger plants, however, may require a shovel to dig out the roots. Because most compost piles do not reach temperatures hot enough to kill mulberry weed seeds, we suggest that you do not compost this plant. Instead, bag and dispose of it in the trash. It is also recommended that you do not mow Fatoua villosa, as this may set seeds in the soil.

Chemical: There are few options for chemical control, if necessary as a last resort, including non-selective herbicides like glyphosate for spot treatment. University of Georgia’s weed control specialist offers some additional suggestions (PDF). Remember to use herbicides responsibly by following all labels and to contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for further guidance.

When mulberry weed is small, it is fairly easy to remove by hand. Image by Sarah Coffey.

Want to Know More?

For more information on mulberry weed, visit and the USDA Plants Database.

Sarah Coffey is a Horticulture Research Intern at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. She is excited to learn hands-on horticulture and to share her project on invasive plant species with the community. Sarah studied environmental science at Stetson University and agroforestry at Virginia Tech and is grateful for the opportunity to begin her professional career at the Garden.