Scientific Name:
Phytolacca octandra L. (1762)
Vernacular Name(s):
Dyeberry; Inkweed; Red ink plant

Glabrous, spreading or ± erect subshrub to c. 2 m tall, with numerous white raphides on stems and lower surface of lvs. Stems softly woody towards base, often reddish. Petioles to 2.5 cm long, moderately thick, often reddish. Lamina 4–15–(20) × 1.5–5 cm, elliptic or elliptic-ovate; base cuneate to attenuate; apex acute or mucronate. Racemes erect, to c. 7 cm long at maximum flowering, to c. 11 cm long at fruiting; peduncles and very short pedicels ± granular, becoming crimson at fruiting. Fls ☿, dense. Bracts 3–4 mm long, linear-lanceolate to subulate; bracteoles much smaller. Perianth 5–7 mm diam.; tepals accrescent, 2–3 mm long, broad-ovate, imbricate, whitish or pale greenish at first, becoming pink to crimson at fruiting. Stamens 8–(10), slightly < perianth; anthers white. Ovary (7)–8-carpellate, green with numerous white raphides. Fr. c. 8 mm diam. when fresh, depressed globose, with 8 very shallow and often inconspicuous grooves (prominent in dried specimens), shining black, very succulent with dark red juice. Seed 2–2.5 mm diam., subglobose, glossy black.

[From: Webb et al. (1988) Flora of New Zealand. Volume 4.]


Flowering: Nov.–Aug.

Connor, H.E. 1977: The Poisonous Plants in New Zealand. Edition 2. Government Printer, Wellington.
Howell, C. 2008: Consolidated list of environmental weeds in New Zealand. DOC Research & Development Series 292: 42.
Stewart, J. 1971: Plants in New Zealand Poisonous to Man. New Zealand Department of Health, Wellington.