What do Squash, Melons, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Gourds and, Pumpkins have in common?
All of these plants belong to the Cucurbitaceae family and are thus related. The major differences beside the physical characteristics of the fruiting bodies and flowers are the presence of tendrils on the vines. Also there is the overall habit of the plants in consideration.
Poke weed is a commonly misunderstood perennial, It's tall and somewhat awkward form seems entirely out of place in any given garden yet it has unique value to the forage gardener's menu. Poke weed is a taprooted perennial, which means it is uniquely suited to dealing with poor or packed soils. Older specimens of pokeweed can have taproots upwards of 18" in diameter making the resulting plant quite robust to the poiont of being a weird yet useful shrub. The edible part is the new shoots that arise from the taproot generally they will need to be cooked in three or four changes of water to remove any phytolaccin. Phytolaccin is a cathartic and slightly narcotic substance that is used for treating rheumatism.
The berries which are a dark magenta-purple in color can be used to make a pink or reddish dye. One can imagine the effect of a stand of pokeweed with voodoo lily, jack in the pulpit or even some may apples can make for one heck of a woodland display. For note this poke weed emerged absolutely as a volunteer. I plant to let it continue doing so for as long as it does not become a issue. The fact it emerged proves the longevity or fertility of pokeweed seeds and it's ease of growth if seed were to be collected from ripe berries.
There is little else in the summer then a stand of Milkweed covered in pollinators each small flower in a bright shade of orange. Single handedly this perennial which reseeds readily can make the heat and humidity of the summer worth it. For those readers not familiar with milkweed, this is a herb with a few differing names, in some texts it's called Pleurisy Root, and yet in others it's called Butterflyweed. The former name comes form it's use in the treatment of respiratory ailments where as the latter derives from the simple fact it's an ample source of pollen and nectar for many pollinators such as butterflies and bees. What is not known is that the roots when dried can be used as an anti-inflammatory. Perhaps paired with Swamp sunflower Helianthus the two could make for one heck of a full sun color display. I might add that the milkweed in the picture is from my own test gardens. As a cultural care note, I started this milkweed in 2009 from seed collected in 2007. It has yet to fail to emerge yearly though this year it has remained longer. I hesitate to transplant it due to this plant's noted taproot which is sensitive to disturbance.