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Family Phytolaccaceae

Description: Erect perennial herbs, shrubs, trees, or (not in Australia) woody climbers, mostly glabrous; stems angular.

Leaves alternate, simple, usually petiolate, without stipules; margins entire; venation pinnate.

Inflorescence terminal or leaf-opposed racemes, sometimes spike-like, or (not in Australia) thyrses, bracteate. Flowers mostly bisexual, sometimes unisexual, mostly actinomorphic, bracteate. Perianth in one whorl, (4- or) 5-merous. Stamens (5–)6–33, in 1 or 2 series, irregularly inserted on or below disc. Ovary superior (inferior or semi-inferior in Agdestis, not in Australia), carpels (3–)5–16, free or partly fused, (completely fused in Agdestis, not in Australia, styles free (or fused in Agdestis, not in Australia) and as many as the carpels.

Fruit a berry, with up to as many lobes as carpels, (outside Australia sometimes more than one per flower), rarely an achene (Agdestis, not in Australia).

Distribution and occurrence: World: 4 genera, c. 33 species, widespread in tropical & warm temperate regions, especially America. Australia: 1 genus, 2 species, naturalised:W.A., Qld., N.S.W., Norfolk Is., Vic.

External links:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Phytolaccaceae, Order: Caryophyllales)

Previously a broader family, including the now segregate Petiveriaceae (as well as several other families not represented in NSW; see APG IV 2016).

Text by G. J. Harden; updated by H. Sauquet (Nov 2020); updated by K.L. Gibbons, 8 June 2023.
Taxon concept: APG IV (2016); H.Hewson Flora of Australia Online; Kew Plants of the World Online; N.G. Walsh, VicFlora [all accessed 7 June 2023]; Christenhusz, Fay & Chase (2017) Plants of the World. Kew Publishing: Surrey.

One genus in NSW: Phytolacca

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