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Genus Phytolacca Family Phytolaccaceae

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
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Herbs or shrubs; inflorescences erect; flowers bisexual2
Trees or large spreading shrubs; inflorescences drooping; flowers unisexualPhytolacca dioica
2Pedicels in fruiting stage 2–3 mm long, shorter than the fruit, fruit 4–6 mm diam.; stalks of inflorescences 1–2 cm longPhytolacca 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
                       Back to 1
Phytolacca americana

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