During a recent visit to Lost Horizons nursery and Larry Davidson's garden, just outside of Acton (yes, this place makes it "worth the drive" at least for me) I was taken somewhat aback by a relatively large plant that I could not recall having seen before.
After posting a few pics on the GardenWeb perennials forum, I soon discovered it was somewhat of a weed in the southern U.S., Phytolacca americana, the American Pokeweed.
While parts of the plant are toxic, it continues to be used in both traditional medicinal and modern pharmacological preparations. In addition, the cooked greens are apparently available commercially in the South. Elvis Presley even recorded a song titled "Polk Salad Annie".
Another very similar plant in Larry's garden, appears to be P. acinosa (syn. P. esculenta), an
Asian relative of the American species.
In any case, despite the somewhat negative opinion that persists for these plants, I was certainly very impressed by their size and colourful stems and fruits. Hence, "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder".
Here's to dirt under your nails.
MPD, the coolplantsguy