Phytolacca L.

Sp.Pl. 1:441 (1753)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Pokeweeds. Family Phytolaccaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs. Plants more or less succulent, or non-succulent. Leaves cauline. Young stems angular. Stem internodes solid. Mesophytic, or xerophytic. Leaves alternate; spiral; ‘herbaceous’, or fleshy; petiolate; non-sheathing; gland-dotted, or not gland-dotted; simple. Leaf blades entire; elliptic, or ovate; pinnately veined; cross-venulate; acute. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Leaf anatomy. Hairs absent. Extra-floral nectaries absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous; when anomalous, via concentric cambia.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite, or functionally male and functionally female (rarely). Unisexual flowers present, or absent. Plants hermaphrodite (mostly), or monoecious. Female flowers without staminodes. Male flowers without pistillodes.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in racemes (erect), or in spikes (sometimes spike-like). The terminal inflorescence unit cymose, or racemose. Inflorescences terminal, or leaf-opposed; spikes to panicles, rarely cymes. Flowers pedicellate; bracteate; bracteolate (the bracts and bracteoles small); small; regular; cyclic. Floral receptacle developing a gynophore, or with neither androphore nor gynophore. Free hypanthium absent. Hypogynous disk present, or absent. Perianth sepaline (corolla absent, the calyx green or somewhat coloured); 5; 1 -whorled. Calyx present; 5; 1 -whorled; polysepalous, or gamosepalous; imbricate; white, or red; usually persistent. Sepals ovate. Calyx lobes ovate. Corolla absent. Fertile stamens present, or absent. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 6–33. Androecial members branched, or unbranched. Androecial sequence determinable, or not determinable. Androecial members free of the perianth; all equal; free of one another; 1 -whorled, or 2 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens (6–)8(–33) (in 1 or 2 series); all more or less similar in shape; isomerous with the perianth, or diplostemonous to polystemonous; irregularly on or below disc. Anthers dorsifixed; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; tetrasporangiate. Fertile gynoecium present (usually), or absent (male flowers). Gynoecium 5–16 carpelled (mostly 8). The pistil 5–16 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth, or reduced in number relative to the perianth, or increased in number relative to the perianth. Gynoecium apocarpous, or syncarpous; of one carpel to eu-apocarpous, or semicarpous to synovarious (i.e. the carpels free to more or less connate); superior. Carpel when apocarpous/semicarpous, stylate; 1 ovuled. Placentation when apocarpous, basal. Ovary plurilocular; 5–16 locular (C); sessile. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 5–16; free. Stigmas 5–16 (L). Placentation when more or less syncarpous, basal. Ovules 1 per locule; arillate, or non-arillate; campylotropous, or amphitropous.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit fleshy; an aggregate, or not an aggregate. The fruiting carpel when apocarpous, indehiscent; samaroid, or nucular, or drupaceous. Fruit when syncarpous, indehiscent; when more or less syncarpous, a capsule, or a berry. Capsules loculicidal. Fruit 5–16 celled; 5–16 seeded. Seeds non-endospermic. Perisperm present. Embryo well differentiated; curved. Micropyle not zigzag.

Etymology. From the Greek for "plant" and the Latin for the gum obtained from some Asian trees.

J. Gathe and Leslie Watson, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine (2002). Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 2, dicotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study. Canberra.
  • Blackall, William E.; Grieve, Brian J. (1988). How to know Western Australian wildflowers : a key to the flora of the extratropical regions of Western Australia. Part I : Dicotyledons (Casuarinaceae to Chenopodiaceae). University of W.A. Press. [Perth].
  • Marchant, N. G.; Wheeler, J. R.; Rye, B. L.; Bennett, E. M.; Lander, N. S.; Macfarlane, T. D.; Western Australian Herbarium (1987). Flora of the Perth region. Part one. Western Australian Herbarium. [Perth].
  • Australia. Bureau of Flora and Fauna (1984). Flora of Australia. Volume 4, Phytolaccaceae to Chenopodiaceae. Australian Govt. Pub. Service. Canberra.