Three Weeds Making My Garden Look Hopeless :(

This time during summer it is really depressing.

My weeds make my  garden look hopeless….partly due to the fast growing weeds, and partly to my summer laziness  busy time is kicking in………..really bad.  I must confess, when it is coming near to Sept 15 when I have to worry about frost, I get lazy busy and neglect the garden. And you all know what happens.

A few days not going out and weeding…..OK, a week or two… garden is over-run with the creepers in the ground covering the gravel, and tall flowering weeds ready to burst with all their seeds.  Where’s my vinegar bottle?

Please, no!

Today we will deal with just three of them. I will have to save some for later.

Stinging Nettle –  Urtica dioicaSlender nettle  – Urtica gracilis  is similar

Three Weeds Making My Garden Hopeless - Got them


Stinging nettle is the name given to common nettle, garden nettle, and hybrids of these plants. Originally from Northern Europe and Asia, this plant is all over the world today.

It gets its name from the tiny hairs growing on the stem and underside of the leaves. These are soft, so you don’t get the sting from them pricking your skin. Its the chemicals that are released when you brush against them which causes a reaction in your skin producing redness, swelling and irritation.

Itchy. Let’s just call it what it is. I think it is similar to poison ivy.

Old superstition: If you pull up a stinging nettle by the roots and call out a sick person’s name, it will drive out the sick one’s fever.

The flowers are small greenish-white clusters on a spike formed at the leaf axils. You can see them in the photo above.

So Many Stinging Nettles Hiding!

The stinging nettle likes a lot of company, so they grow in colonies. Where you find one, there will be many more, so it is important to get them pulled before they mature and spread the seed. They are easy to pull out buy just gripping the stem near the bottom, with gloves on…..and maybe long sleeves might be a good idea if the plant is large.

These weeds resemble mints a lot, but mints don’t have the stinging hairs. And I guess I have to mention that the plant is also used as food. I read that it is boiled to remove the stinging hairs. It is high in Vitamin C and A, along with iron.

 Give me an orange and some spinach. I just can’t eat my weeds.


Clearweed – Pilea pumila

This weed is  similar to stinging nettle that they are mistaken for each other. But clearweed has no stinging hairs.  It grows in a similar fashion but has a soft-ish stem which pulls out of the soil so easily that I should not have the hundreds of plants that I have in the garden.

I have no excuse. Did I lie when I said I get lazy busy?

This is not an edible plant as far as I know, but I guess that is based on what you like. I think rhubarb is nasty, and you may love it. To each his own, I guess.

Clearweed - The Hypertufa Gardener

Clearweed has very shallow roots so it is easy to pull up. Here I’ve pulled one up so you can see its roots. Notice how translucent the stems are. That is why it is called clearweed, I guess. Makes sense to me.

Freshly Pulled Clearweed - The Hypertufa Gardener

And it loves to hide behind and under other larger plants, so it is a real struggle to get to it, even though it is easy to pull when you do reach it. See it along the fence around and behind my huge Baptisia I have pulled forward?

Clearweed hiding behind the Baptisia - The Hypertufa Gardener



Pokeweed – Phytolacca americana

Common pokeweed is native to the eastern half of the U.S. And I understand it is edible to some who can prepare and cook according to specific directions so you don’t POISON yourself.  The FDA puts this under the classification of “undefined safety.” So, you guessed it…..

I am not going to eat it.

Pokeweed with unripe berries - The Hypertufa Gardener

Pokeweed can grow to nine feet tall and has a large taproot which looks like a big carrot. It has huge leaves when it is mature and the berries are produced on a long racemes as you see in this picture. These berries are not ripe, but will turn a deep dark purple as they ripen.

I have this growing around my hydrangea bush next to the driveway. It blended in really well with the leaves of the hydrangea which made me not even notice it until the berries were beginning to form. I decided to let it grow so that I could photograph it. Now it can go!

Pokeweed berries - The Hypertufa Gardener

The little berries look like green tomatoes to me. But they are really small, maybe the size of a large pea. And notice the little indentations on the berry, as if someone had “poked” them with a stick. Is that why it is called Pokeweed?

“It is sometimes spelled polk and the leaves were reportedly worn by enthusiastic supporters during the campaign of James K. Polk, 11th president of the United States.” Source:

A lot of birds and other animals eat the berries as one of their food sources and have no adverse reactions to the poison. These creatures disperse the seeds by excreting them and that is the main means of distributing these plants.

Species who depend on the berries are robins, mourning dove, cardinal, bluebird, phoebes, along with red foxes, opossum,  raccoons, and mice.

Giant_leopard_moth_20050612_173823_1.1300x1210Pokeweed is one of the host plants of the giant leopard moth whose caterpillar is the “Wooly Bear” kind that predicts our winters.


So I guess these plants are a good one to have in an isolated area where children or pets cannot get to them.

Unless you want to make up a batch to eat. But that would only be when they are very young and under 8 inches high. That is  when they are at their best.

I will leave you to test that out. Not me.

In the south, it was canned and sold in stores until about 2000 and in Europe it is sold in gourmet shops. It is raised as a crop in Europe according to The Wild Vegetarian Cookbook.



Kim, The Hypertufa Gardener

Hi, I am Kim and thank you so much for visiting my magazine! I am a gardener and a hypertufa maker. If you came here to learn about hypertufa, I have a lot of information. But I also write about flower gardening and using succulents which are great drought-tolerant plants.

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12 thoughts on “Three Weeds Making My Garden Look Hopeless :(

  • September 1, 2016 at 10:33 am
    I got a kick out of the comments of not eating Poke salet, I am 80+ and eat it as long as I can remember and not dead yet. Growing up I was the one who watched for the first little polk to peep up so I could start picking it for mother and both grandmothers to cook. You can mix it with other greens or you can batter the shoots and fry it. The thing to eating polk is to get it young and tender, not over 6 inches tall. As a kid we played with the berries making dye and other things. We were told they were poison and back than kids listened to their parents and never eat them. Back before dryers we would hang our wash on a line outside to dry and more than once a bird flew over the wash and dropped his polk berry filled poop on the nice white sheets and on my dads white Sunday shirt. Reply
    • September 1, 2016 at 12:44 pm
      Oh what great memories! We have it growing around here and I pull it. But the birds can still make a mess. A white car can get really "colorful." I remember ironing my Daddy's white shirts for Sunday morning. A bird stain would just ruin it! Reply
  • August 31, 2016 at 8:50 pm
    Pokeweed DOES get to be nine feet tall around here. I'm currently trying to cut it down, there's a lot of it this year. Unless you can get the roots out thought it will be back next year; I'll just have to be better at staying on top of it. My neighbors all eat it, but not me, no, not me. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead Reply
    • August 31, 2016 at 9:13 pm
      Oh yes, that stuff can get huge. And I won't eat it no matter what! Reply
  • July 1, 2016 at 2:32 pm
    Kim: Regarding all our weeds: use real leaf mulch, put on 4" thick each year and your weeks will be almost nonexistent. The seeds "cook" in the pile and burn! This is not to say the wind or birds won't bring weeds in, tho. Also I plant my gardens so that they are full, so that sunlight cannot reach the ground, which encourages any weeds to grow. Any weeds that do show up recently are poison ivy which are about 2" high. They pull out VERY easily in the leaf mulch. They blow in from the tree line! Have a wonderful Fourth of July! Reply
    • July 1, 2016 at 4:28 pm
      Thanks, I try to mulch in the beds each year and it does keep the weeds down, though I still have to keep on top of the blow-ins, critters carrying in, etc. I have a lot of maple seed sprouts, and also walnut tree sprouts. They are funny, because you can wait a bit for them to grow, then pull up after a rainstorm, and there is the walnut still attached. The squirrels are determined to make my garden into a forest. Have a wonderful Fourth! Reply
  • October 1, 2015 at 3:49 pm
    I would have not thought to check how edible the weeds in my garden were. The pokeweed sounds interesting to say the least, how it's poisonous unless properly prepared. Seeing as how I am not a master chef, I don't think I would try them. Reply
    • October 1, 2015 at 4:22 pm
      I think I would be inclined to stay away from pokeweed. If I want greens, I will eat spinach. It's not poison no matter how I cook it. LOL Reply
  • August 19, 2015 at 5:43 am
    Really interesting post! I didn't know anything about the Clearweed. The nettle is a plant that I grow in a corner of my garden because I really like to make soups with it! For the rest I am weeding regularly and I know pretty much about all the plants in my garden, as well as the animals that live in my garden! I love to do everything that has something to do with gardening! Thanks for sharing! I don't feel bad about the weeds in the garden :) Everybody has the moments when they don't feel like doing the weeding! :) Reply
    • August 19, 2015 at 5:52 am
      Thanks for your visit, and if you don't have clearweed, be grateful. I am up early for my morning coffee so I can get out there early since the weeds are winning! Reply
  • August 9, 2015 at 9:45 am
    Are you sure the first one is nettle? We have this growing wild around our house and DO use leaves and roots in the spring for tea, but the leaves are usually much darker green and they tend to have little hairs on the stem. Also, the second weed looks like wild Indian strawberries. We've got those as well, and they have lovely little yellow blooms on them. Reply
    • August 9, 2015 at 4:32 pm
      I am pretty sure since I research doing the article. And I have wild strawberry and this one is definitely not strawberry. Reply

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