Alex gives us our instructions for the day

Saturday was supposed to be a Pokeweed removal day but, it got complicated in a hurry. What we found when we got to the site was a stand of poison hemlock hiding in a hedge of poison oak.
Poison oak
Hemlock hides in the poison oak
The poison oak is a native plant that provides browse for deer during times of scarcity and berries for birds to supplement the other fruits that they eat.  For humans, well forget all that.  When this happens, Alex shepherds the sensitive volunteers away from the poison oak and lets the brave hearts make their own decisions. Some of us are immune to poison oak, so we don’t care.  Alex brings a “special soap” to the workdays that removes poison oak from your skin.  It’s not a cure but it limits your exposure after the fact.  Since you must be wondering by now, poison hemlock is only poisonous if you ingest it.
Julie and Paul work in front of a poison hemlock
Julie asks, “why would you eat it”?
The prize for “Weed of the Day” went to  Sorghum halepense, a.k.a. Johnson grass.  Sorghum is used as a supplement or primary livestock feed.  Seven million acres of sorghum is cultivated in the United States a year.  Sorghum costs about 70 cents a bushel less than corn.  It is fed to beef, swine, dairy and poultry.  Sorghum is not going to go away.  In fact, it arrives at The Preserve by the winter and spring floods on a regular basis.  Fortunately, the floods dump mostly sand when the water recedes making this tall grass easy to manually pull up.  When it gets established in clay or real soil, it’s another story.  We get tired either way.
Allison and Paul clear a large patch of sorghum
Gregory and Paul
Jim digs up his own weeds
Saturday’s challenge was to pull the Sorghum without disturbing the Santa Barbara sedge that it was hiding in.  We encourage the sedge and transplant it from other parts of The Preserve.  
Sorghum (aka Johnson grass) hiding in Santa Barbara sedge
Allison and Robin dig up and haul out sorghum
The next time we transplant sedge,  I will share  that job with you and maybe by that time I will have found the recipe for Poke salad.  Does anyone but me remember the song about Poke salad Annie, from the Fifties?  Let’s hope that Poke salad tastes as good as Epazote which Alex found growing wild right next to the Pokeweed. 
Alex said that the Epazote is used for flavoring bean dishes.  The herb smelled good so I’m trying it on my burrito next time.
Battling Plants and Persistent Volunteers

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