Description: Perennial herbs, stems sometimes reddish; rarely shrubs or trees.
Inflorescence terminal or leaf-opposed racemes, sometimes spike-like. Flowers mostly bisexual. Perianth segments 5, greenish white in flower, turning red and enlarging during fruit development. Stamens mostly 10 (range 6–33). Carpels 5–16, styles free and as many as the carpels.
Fruit a berry, with up to as many lobes as carpels.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 35 species, tropical & subtropical regions. Australia: 3 species (naturalized), all mainland States.
P. dioica L., a tree with long drooping inflorescences of unisexual flowers is sometimes cultivated in warmer parts of N.S.W., but it is not known to be naturalized.
Text by G. J. Harden
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Herbs or shrubs; inflorescences erect; flowers bisexual||2|
|Trees or large spreading shrubs; inflorescences drooping; flowers unisexual||Phytolacca dioica|
|2||Pedicels in fruiting stage 2–3 mm long, shorter than the fruit, fruit 4–6 mm diam.; stalks of inflorescences 1–2 cm long||Phytolacca octandra|
|Pedicels in fruiting stage 5–10 mm long, longer than the fruit, fruit 6–10 mm diam.; stalks of inflorescences 4–5 cm long|
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