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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Ordo: Caryophyllales

Familia: Phytolaccaceae
Subfamilia: Phytolaccoideae
Genus: Phytolacca
Subgenera: P. subg. Phytolacca – P. subg. Pircuniastrum

Species: P. acinosa – P. americana – P. bogotensis – P. chilensis – P. cyclopetala – P. dioica – P. dodecandra – P. glabra – P. goudotii – P. heptandra – P. heterotepala – P. icosandra – P. japonica – P. meziana – P. polyandra – P. pruinosa – P. rivinoides – P. rugosa – P. sandwicensis – P. sanguinea – P. tetramera – P. thyrsiflora – P. xolocotzii

Phytolacca L., Sp. Pl. 1: 441 (1753)

Phytolacca americana L. Sp. Pl. 1: 441 (1753)


Pircunia Bertero Mercurio Chileno 16: 744. (1829) et Bertero ex Ruschenberger Amer. J. Sci. Arts 23: 264. (1833) vide Anisomeria D. Don Edinb. N. Philos. J. 13: 238. (1832)
Type species: Pircunia drastica Bertero Mercurio Chileno 16: 744. (1829) vide Anisomeria coriacea D.Don Edinb. N. Philos. J. 13: 238 (1832).
Sarcoca Raf. Fl. Tellur. 3: 55. 1836[1837]
Type species: Sarcoca dioica (L.) Raf. Fl. Tellur. 3:55. 1836[1837]
Pircunia Moq. Prodr. 13(2): 29. (1849)
Type species: non designatus by Moquin-Tandon (1849)
Nowickea J.Martínez & J.A.McDonald Brittonia 41: 399. (1989)
Type species: Nowickea xolocotzii J. Martínez & J.A. McDonald Brittonia 41(4): 400–401, 403, f. 1. (1989)


Phytolaca Hill Hort. Kew. 215. (1768) nom. illeg. hom.
Phytolacca Brot. Fl. Lusit. 2: 224. (1804) nom. illeg. hom.


Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum 1: 441.
Hassler, M. 2017. Phytolacca. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2017. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2017 May 1. Reference page. Segregates Nowickea
Hernández-Ledesma, P., Berendsohn, W. G., Borsch, T., Mering, S. v., Akhani, H., Arias, S., Castañeda-Noa, I., Eggli, U., Eriksson, R., Flores-Olvera, H., Fuentes-Bazán, S., Kadereit, G., Klak, C., Korotkova, N., Nyffeler R., Ocampo G., Ochoterena, H., Oxelman, B., Rabeler, R. K., Sanchez, A., Schlumpberger, B. O. & Uotila, P. 2015. A taxonomic backbone for the global synthesis of species diversity in the angiosperm order Caryophyllales. Willdenowia 45(3): 281–383. DOI: 10.3372/wi.45.45301 Open access Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2017. Phytolacca. Published online. Accessed: May 7 2017.
Ramírez-Amezcua Y. & Steinmann V. 2013. La verdadera identidad de Nowickea (Phytolaccaceae). Resúmenes XIX Congreso Mexicano de Botánica, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. 2017. Phytolacca. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published on the internet. Accessed: 2017 May 7.

Vernacular names
azərbaycanca: Qırmızı dil
беларуская: Лаканос
dansk: Kermesbær
Deutsch: Kermesbeeren
English: Pokeweed
español: Ombú
suomi: Kermesmarjat
français: Phytolaques
hornjoserbsce: Fytolaka
italiano: Fitolacca
日本語: ヤマゴボウ属
lietuvių: Fitolaka
Deitsch: Dindebeer
polski: Szkarłatka
русский: Лаконос
svenska: Kermesbär
українська: Фітолакка
中文: 商陆属

Phytolacca is a genus of perennial plants native to North America, South America and East Asia. Some members of the genus are known as pokeweeds or similar names such as pokebush, pokeberry, pokeroot or poke sallet.[2][3] Other names for species of Phytolacca include inkberry and ombú. The generic name is derived from the Greek word φυτόν (phyton), meaning "plant," and the Latin word lacca, a red dye.[4] Phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin are present (in the leaves, stems, roots, blossoms, berries etc.) in many species which are poisonous to mammals if not prepared properly. The berries are eaten by birds, which are not affected by the toxin. The small seeds with very hard outer shells remain intact in the digestive system and are eliminated whole.

The genus comprises about 25 to 35 species of perennial herbs, shrubs, and trees growing from 1 to 25 m (3 to 80 ft) tall. They have alternate simple leaves, pointed at the end, with entire or crinkled margins; the leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen. The stems are green, pink or red. The flowers are greenish-white to pink, produced in long racemes at the ends of the stems. They develop into globose berries 4 to 12 millimetres (0.2 to 0.5 in) diameter, green at first, ripening dark purple to black.[5][6][7]

Selected species
Although many species are herbaceous, P. dioica forms a substantial tree
Nymboida National Park, NSW, Australia, August 2014.

The following species are accepted by one or more regional floras:[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Phytolacca acinosa Roxb. – Indian poke. Southern and eastern Asia (syn. P. esculenta Van Houtte, P. latbenia (Moq.) Walter). Black and Judziewicz report it in Dane County, Wisconsin in their 2008 and 2009 books (Wildflowers of Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Regionn. A Comprehensive Field Guide, first and 2nd editions. )
Phytolacca americana L. – American pokeweed. North America (syn. P. decandra L.)
Phytolacca australis Phil. – Western South America
Phytolacca bogotensis Kunth – Tropical and subtropical South America (sometimes included in P. icosandra[9]).
Phytolacca chilensis Miers – central Chile (possibly synonymous with P. icosandra[9])
Phytolacca dioica L. – Ombú. Subtropical South America.
Phytolacca dodecandra L'Hér. – Eastern Africa, Madagascar (syn. P. abyssinica Hoffm.).
Phytolacca heterotepala H.Walt. – Mexican pokeweed. Mexico, SW USA (California).
Phytolacca icosandra L. – Central and South America.
Phytolacca japonica Makino – Eastern Asia (syn. P. hunanensis Hand.-Mazz., P. zhejiangensis W.T.Fan).
Phytolacca octandra L. – Red inkplant. Subtropical and tropical regions worldwide (sometimes included in P. icosandra[8]).
Phytolacca polyandra Batalin – Central and southwest China (syn. P. clavigera W.W.Smith).
Phytolacca pruinosa Fenzl - Levantine Pokeweed. Southern Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon and Syria.
Phytolacca rivinoides Kunth & C.D.Bouché – Central and South America.
Phytolacca sandwicensis Endl. – Hawaiian Pokeweed. Hawaii.
Phytolacca thyrsiflora Fenzl ex J.A.Schmidt – Northern South America.
Phytolacca weberbaueri H.Walt. – Yumbi. Peru.

Formerly placed here

Leea asiatica (L.) Ridsdale (as P. asiatica L.)
Terminalia catappa L. (as P. javanica Osbeck)[8]


The ombú (Phytolacca dioica) grows as a tree on the pampas of South America and is one of the few providers of shade on the open grassland. It is a symbol of Uruguay, Argentina and gaucho culture. P. weberbaueri from Peru also grows to tree size. Both species have massively buttressed bases to their trunks, and very soft wood with a high water storage capacity which makes them resistant to grass fires and drought.[11]

In the Pacific Northwest of North America, pokeweed is an invasive species.

Phytolacca americana (American pokeweed, pokeweed, poke) is used as a folk medicine and as food, although all parts of it must be considered toxic unless, as folk recipes claim, it is "properly prepared." The root is never eaten and cannot be made edible.[12] Poke salad ('poke salat') is considered part of traditional southern U.S. cuisine, where it is cooked three times in three changes of boiling water to remove some of the harmful components.[13] Toxic constituents which have been identified include the alkaloids phytolaccine and phytolaccotoxin, as well as a glycoprotein.[14]
Fossil record

A Phytolacca-like fossil has been described from the Upper Cretaceous (late Campanian) Cerro del Pueblo Formation, Coahuila, Mexico, it is a permineralized multiple infructescence composed of berries with six locules, each containing a single seed with a curved embryo developed in a curved ovule with pendulous placentation, a berry anatomy that is similar to that of the genus Phytolacca. Though this new plant from Coahuila shares reproductive characters with Phytolacca, the constant number (six) of carpels per fruit and pendulous placentation support the recognition of a new genus, Coahuilacarpon phytolaccoides.[15]

Notes and references

"Genus: Phytolacca L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1996-09-17. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-07. Retrieved 2011-07-03. Annual Poke Sallet Festival, Harlan, KY
Ed Dinger "Allen Canning Company". International Directory of Company Histories. 15 Apr, 2011.
Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. 3 M-Q. CRC Press. p. 2065. ISBN 978-0-8493-2677-6.
Flora of China: Phytolacca
Flora of North America: Phytolacca
MacBride, J. F. (1937). Flora of Peru. Publications of Field Museum of Natural History, Botanical Series. Volume XIII Part II pp. 553–556. University of Illinois. Full text
"GRIN Species Records of Phytolacca". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2000-10-27. Retrieved 2011-02-03.
Reiche, K. (undated). Flora de Chile Volume 6 pp. 143–145. Full text
Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Madagascar: Phytolacca
Armstrong, Wayne. "Pokeweed: An Interesting American Vegetable". Retrieved 2007-07-21.
Iowa Cooperative Extension Service publication Pm-746 "POKEWEED"
Adams, Allison. "A Mess of Poke". Retrieved 2011-10-17.
"Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System". Retrieved 2009-12-03.
PHYTOLACCACEAE INFRUCTESCENCE FROM CERRO DEL PUEBLO FORMATION, UPPER CRETACEOUS (LATE CAMPANIAN), COAHUILA, MEXICO by Sergio R. S. Cevallos-Ferriz, Emilio Estrada-Ruiz and Balam Rodrigo Pérez-Hernández - American Journal of Botany 95(1): 77–83. 2008

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