Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana L. (syn.: P. decandra L.) (N-Am.) – A very rare and probably often rather ephemeral escape from cultivation. First recorded in 1958 on a dump near Verviers. In recent years more often seen, for instance birdsown (foot of tree) in woodland (old estate) in Waardamme (Oostkamp) since 1997. Recently also recorded in Gent (urban pavement weed in 2007 and in wasteland in 2002), in Tielt since 2008 (weed in plantation – in the vicinity of P. acinosa) and in Antwerpen in 2008 (demolition site). So far, Phytolacca americana is always seen as single individuals in Belgium. It often persists very well but does not become naturalised yet.

Phytolacca americana is much rarer than P. acinosa in Belgium (see also Landolt 2001) and is possibly less hardy. All British records are possibly in error for similar Asian species (Clement 1982, Stace 1997). It is widely naturalised in nature-like habitats in southern Europe (heaths, woodlands), extending northwards to central France. Phytolacca americana is often considered to be an invasive environmental weed (especially in heathlands). However, in Belgium it has hardly been observed in natural habitats so far. Additional information on its potential invasive behaviour in Belgium is available at:

Herbarium specimen

A leaf of Phytolacca americana A fruit of Phytolacca americana

Phytolacca americana, Antwerpen, demolition site, October 2008, E. MolenaarPhytolacca americana, Antwerpen, demolition site, October 2008, E. Molenaar

Selected literature

Caulkins D.B. & Wyatt R. (1990) Variation and taxonomy of Phytolacca americana and P. rigida in the southeastern United States. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 117(4): 357-367.

Clement E.J. (1982) Pokeweeds (Phytolacca ssp.) in Britain. BSBI News 32: 22-23.

Herrmann M. & Herrmann E. (1976) Phytolacca americana L. als Neophyt in Stadt und. Kreisgebiet von Naumburg (Saale). Mitt. Flor. Kart. Halle 2(2): 57-60.

Landolt E. (2001) Flora der Stadt Zürich. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel: 1421 p.

Ludwig W. (1957) Über Verwechslungen von Phytolacca acinosa mit Phytolacca americana. Hess. Flor. Briefe 6: 281-282.

Skalický V. (1972) Lícidlo jedlé (Phytolacca esculenta van Houtte), nový zplanĕlý druh kvĕteny ČSSR a NDR a rozšíření druhů Phytolacca esculenta van Houtte a P.americana L. v ČSSR. Preslia 44(4): 364-369.

Stace C. (1997) New flora of the British Isles, 2nd ed.: XXVII + 1130 p. Cambridge University Press.

Terpo A. & Balint K.E. (1985) A `karmazsinbogyo' (Phytolacca) fajok kiwadulasa es a Ph. americana meghonosodasa Magyarorszagon. Bot. Közlem. 72(1-2): 127-139.

Van der Meijden R. (2005) Heukels’ Flora van Nederland (23e druk). Wolters-Noordhoff, Groningen: 685 p.

Verloove F. (2002) Ingeburgerde plantensoorten in Vlaanderen. Mededeling van het Instituut voor Natuurbehoud n° 20: 227 p.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith