Biological Name:

Sanicula spp. (Poorjoe)

Natural Habitat:

Poorjoe: This plant is native to North America and can be found in a variety of habitats including meadows, fields, and roadsides.


Poorjoe is a type of flowering plant that is commonly found in fields and other grassy areas. It is a member of the Rubiaceae family which also includes plants such as coffee and gardenia. Poorjoe is a perennial plant that produces small white flowers and clusters of red berries. The plant is often used as a cover crop to improve soil health and suppress weeds. It is also known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions including wet or dry soils. In some areas poorjoe is considered a weed because of its ability to invade cultivated areas and cause allergies and other health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How do I get rid of poor Joe?
A: Control: Handpulling poorjoe is easy at any stage of growth because of its shallow root system. For severe infestations repeated applications of 2 or 3 way mixtures of dicamba, 2,4-D, MCPP and MCPA are effective.

Q: What is poor Joe?
A: Poor Joe in American English noun. (in coastal Georgia, South Carolina and the Bahamas) a heron.

Q: Is Rough Buttonweed edible?
A: The unripe seeds are edible raw. Where the plant is native its seeds are a common outdoor snack of children. Ripe seeds, however, must be leached until not bitter. Then dried they are ground into flour.

Q: Should you pull Virginia Buttonweed?
A: Be sure to pull up the entire plant, roots and all, so that it doesn’t regrow. You can also use a hoe or trowel to dig up the plant. If hand-pulling and digging aren’t possible or practical, you can use a herbicide. Look for one that’s specifically labeled for Virginia buttonweed and follow the instructions carefully.

Q: Is buttonweed invasive?
A: Virginia buttonweed is widely considered the most invasive weed infesting turfgrass in the South.

Q: How do you identify buttonweed?
A: Virginia buttonweed leaves are slightly thickened, opposite without petioles and slightly rough along the margins (Picture 1). Leaves are green on the upper surface, light green on the lower surface and often have a mottled yellow mosaic appearance caused by a virus that commonly infects foliage (Picture 2).

Q: Where is buttonweed native to?
A: Facts. Virginia buttonweed is native to the eastern U.S., reaching the northern edge of its range just south of New England. It is a spreading, prostrate perennial that can show up as a weed in lawns and other disturbed areas of the south. However, it is listed as rare farther north in New Jersey and Indiana.

Q: What is a touch me not flower?
A: Spotted Touch-Me-Not (Impatiens capensis) is a summer-blooming Adirondack wildflower bearing one-inch orange flowers with red or dark orange spots. It is a member of the Balsaminaceae family. The genus name (Impatiens) is Latin for “impatience.”” This is a reference to the seed which explodes on touch when ripe.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.