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Phytolacca americana var. americana

Higher Taxonomy
Family: PhytolaccaceaeView Description 

Habit: [Annual to] perennial herb [to tree], generally +- glabrous. Leaf: alternate, simple, entire, generally petioled; stipules 0 or vestigial. Inflorescence: spike, raceme [panicle], [axillary or] terminal (then often lateral, +- opposite a leaf, by growth of bud axillary to that leaf); bract 1; bractlets 2. Flower: generally bisexual, radial; sepals [4]5[10], fused at base, generally persistent; petals 0; stamens 4--many, generally on disk, free or fused at base, in 1--2 whorls or not; carpels generally 1--12, [free] to fused, ovary generally superior, carpels = styles, chambers in number, ovules 1 per chamber, stigmas linear or thread-like. Fruit: berry [achene, capsule, drupe, nut, samara].
Genera In Family: +- 18 genera, 130 species: +- worldwide, especially America tropics, subtropics. Note: A broad family concept adopted here, as many as 6 segregate families sometimes recognized by others.
eFlora Treatment Author: John W. Thieret, final revision by Thomas J. Rosatti
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: PhytolaccaView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb [to tree]; axes often +- red to purple. Flower: sepals 5[8], petal-like; stamens generally 5--30; carpels 5--12, +- fused. Fruit: berry, chambers 5--12. Seed: 1 per chamber.
Species In Genus: +- 25 species: tropics, subtropics, especially America. Etymology: (Greek, Latin: plant, crimson dye, from fruit color)

Phytolacca americana L. var. americana
Habit: Plant to 3(7) m. Leaf: blade 8--35 cm, 3--18 cm wide, lanceolate to ovate; petiole 1--6 cm. Inflorescence: +- open raceme, spreading to generally drooping, (10)12--30 cm; peduncle to 15 cm; pedicel 3--13 mm. Flower: sepals +- equal, 2.5--3.3 mm, ovate to +- round, +- white to +- pink; stamens 10, generally in 1 whorl; carpels 6--12, fused at least in basal 1/2. Fruit: 6--11 mm diam, purple-black. Seed: 2.5--3 mm, lenticular, black, shiny. Chromosomes: 2n=36.
Ecology: Uncommon. Disturbed areas, roadsides; Elevation: generally < 1000 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA-FP; Distribution Outside California: native to eastern United States. Flowering Time: Summer--fall
Unabridged Note: Intermediates in eastern United States between Phytolacca americana L. var. americana --- pedicels in fruit > 6 mm, > fruit; inflorescence spreading to generally drooping, (10)12--30 cm; widespread, including California --- and Phytolacca americana L. var. rigida (Small) Caulkins & R.W. Wyatt --- pedicels in fruit < 6(7) mm, < fruit; inflorescence erect, 6--9(13.5) cm; Virginia to Texas; various plant parts sources of dye, food, medicine, yet poisonous to humans, other animals when ingested without careful, experienced preparation.
eFlora Treatment Author: John W. Thieret, final revision by Thomas J. Rosatti
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Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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botanical illustration including Phytolacca americana var. americana


Citation for this treatment: John W. Thieret, final revision by Thomas J. Rosatti 2017. Phytolacca americana var. americana, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 28, 2017.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2017. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 28, 2017.

Geographic subdivisions for Phytolacca americana var. americana:
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.