Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Elderberry, Crabgrass Control, Mulberry ID & “Ear” Fungus

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or or


American black elderberry. Photo: US Forest Service.


“Hi, my name is Chris…. I think I have a poisonous plant. My husband thinks it is [poison] hemlock. Could you please come out and identify the plant? And if it is poisonous, please let us know how to get rid of it.”

Poison Hemlock is native to Louisiana. However, Chris has another native plant, American black elderberry (ABE). The US Geological Survey has a list of birds that feed on elderberry fruit: Eastern bluebird, Indigo bunting, Cardinal, Catbird, Yellow-breasted chat, Common house finch, Red-shafted flicker, Ash-throated flycatcher, Black-headed grosbeak, Rose-breasted grosbeak, Stellar jay, Eastern kingbird, Mockingbird.

The USGS also shares these notes about ABE uses, “The vegetative parts of elderberry are poisonous and when dried can be used as an insecticide. The fruit can be eaten raw but has a strong taste.” Other uses include, “Fruits used to make wine, jelly, pies, etc. The flower clusters are sometimes dipped in batter and fried. The stems are hollowed to make toys and tubes for blowing fires to rekindle coals or to control burns to hollow out wooden vessels and boats.”


White mulberry leaf. Photo: anonymous.

Mulberry ID

A cattle producer sent several images of leaves and asked for an identification. Based on the image above and the other images, this plant looks like a white mulberry. The US Forest Service reports that white mulberry is native to China and came to America to enable the development of a silk industry. This mulberry has naturalized into the natural landscape and had hybridized with native red mulberry. It is considered an ecological threat by displacing native plants.


Features of crabgrass. Photo: Kayla Sanders, LSU AgCenter

Crabgrass Control

Carolyn is interested in weed control, “I have a big problem this year with crabgrass. I have had hip replacement surgery and cannot pull the crab grass. I know I have waited a long time to ask but how can I get rid of it without harming the grass and some flowers?”

The solution for crabgrass in flower beds are selective herbicides for controlling grassy weeds including crabgrass and Bermudagrass in flower beds. One product is Grass-B-Gon® with the active ingredient fluazifop-P-butyl 0.48. Another selective herbicide is Hi-Yield Grass Killer®.

The solution for crabgrass control is in a downloadable LSU AgCenter publication, Louisiana Home Lawn Series: Crabgrass. Mowing height and fertilization encourages desirable grasses such as St. Augustine, Bermudagrass, Centipede and Zoysia. Because crabgrass is an annual weed, it produces seeds, and pre-emergent herbicides can prevent the germination of crabgrass seed. The publication cited earlier lists many pre-emergent herbicides and be found online at .


"Ear fungus", a decomposer. Photo: Mara Trotter, Alexandria.

“Ear” Fungus

Mara of Alexandria asked for the identification of a fungal growth, “what is this fungus? It is climbing up my pecan ‘stump’—[It] seems to start in the dirt, then spread as it goes up. It smells very weakly of a mushroom--unlike toadstools, which never smell of anything.”

Mr. David Lewis, a professional mycologist, identified Mara’s fungus, “This is a species of the ‘ear fungus’ in the genus Auricularia. It is not pathogenic but a saprophytic [decomposing] fungus. Apparently, [this] pecan tree is dying from something else, and the Auricularia is taking care of the dead wood. It is considered edible.”

7/26/2022 4:53:24 PM
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