Phytolacca octandra L.

Red-ink Weed

Sp. Pl., edn 2, 631 (1762) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Naturalised

Rank-smelling, glabrous perennial herb or soft-wooded shrub, to c. 2 m high and wide. Leaves petiolate, elliptic or narrowly ovate, to 25 cm long, 13 cm wide (but usually c. 4–10 cm long, 1–3 cm wide). Inflorescence a dense, spike-like raceme, 3–13 cm long (elongating to c. 20 cm in fruit), axis papillate; bracts oblong, c. 2 mm long; pedicels shorter than to subequal to bracts; perianth segments ovate, c. 3 mm long, whitish, green, tinged red, or wholly reddish-purple; stamens 8–10, shorter than perianth; carpels 7–10, fused; styles linear, c. 0.5 mm long, recurved. Berry depressed-globular, 5–9 mm diam., succulent, dark reddish-purple, constricted between the 8 (or fewer by abortion) shining black lenticular seeds, c. 2 mm diam. Flowers mainly Nov.–May.

*CVU, *EGL, *EGU, *GipP, *Glep, *Gold, *GGr, *HNF, *HSF, *NIS, *OtP, *Strz, *VAlp, *VRiv, *VVP, *Wim. Also WA, SA, Qld, NSW. Native to tropical America. Occasional in disturbed sites, wasteland and sometimes intact native communities on soils of low fertility, chiefly coastal (e.g. around Port Phillip Bay, Western Port, Mallacoota), but also near Wangaratta, Maffra and Pomonal.

Source: Walsh, N.G. (1996). Phytolaccaceae. In: Walsh, N.G.; Entwisle, T.J. (eds), Flora of Victoria Vol. 3, Dicotyledons Winteraceae to Myrtaceae. Inkata Press, Melbourne.
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2018-06-05
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Caryophyllanae
genus Phytolacca
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <>. Find Phytolacca octandra in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Phytolacca octandra in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Wimmera present naturalised
Glenelg Plain present naturalised
Victorian Volcanic Plain present naturalised
Victorian Riverina present naturalised
Gippsland Plain present naturalised
Otway Plain present naturalised
Goldfields present naturalised
Central Victorian Uplands present naturalised
Greater Grampians present naturalised
Northern Inland Slopes present naturalised
East Gippsland Lowlands present naturalised
East Gippsland Uplands present naturalised
Highlands-Southern Fall present naturalised
Highlands-Northern Fall present naturalised
Strzelecki Ranges present naturalised
Victorian Alps present naturalised

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory