I've been pulling these all summer but this was the first one that made me pause - the roots were very rhizome-y?

Wondering if this is a weed or something that may have been left there by the previous owners (this is my first growing season here)

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That is Pokeweed, Phytolacca americana. It is a weed, the previous owner (hopefully) didn't plant it. That specimen looks to be at least 2 years old. They spread by means of the dark purple staining berries which fall or are spread by birds. It is best to control them early, so that they don't disturb existing ornamental during removal. I've seen someone use a stump grinder on large plants (overkill IMHO). I usually pull them at three inches, enough to give you a handle, but before they develop huge roots.

Also see What is this fast growing plant with blue/black berries?

  • Just for further references: anthocyanin is the culprit of reddish stems on most Internet pictures.
    – BYJ
    Aug 10 '14 at 18:35
  • Thanks so much - I dont even know where to start when identifying most of this stuff.
    – Brian
    Aug 10 '14 at 19:11
  • So I hacked down all the green with a hoe since grubbing some of the roots was basically impossible - I can see where the stump grinder would come in. I'll just keep with the pruning until it stops coming back
    – Brian
    Aug 10 '14 at 22:54
  • @Brian That can take over a year... Are you sure you can't dig them out?
    – J. Musser
    Aug 12 '14 at 0:10

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