Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Phytolacca dioica
L., Phytolaccaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Risk assessment results:  High risk, score: 9 (Go to the risk assessment)

Other Latin names:  Phytolacca arborea Moq.; Phytolacca populifolia Salisb.; Pircunia dioica Moq.; Sarcoca dioica Rafin.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: belhambra, packalacca, phytolacca

Spanish: bella sombra, belombra, ombú, umbú

Habit:  tree

Description:  "Evergreen tree to 60 feet tall, dioecious; trunk thick, base developing irregular swellings, crown usually broader than high.  Leaf petioles 1.5-3 inches long; blades elliptic to ovate, to 5 x 2.5 inches, ± fleshy, apex mucronate.  Inflorescence a raceme to 6 inches long.  Flowers unisexual, greenish white; male flower stamens 20-25 in 2 whorls; female flowers sterile stamens ca 10, ovary with 8-12 carpels, weakly fused.  Fruit a segmented berry, ca 0.3 inches in diameter"  (Staples & Herbst, 2005; p. 452).

"A spreading deciduous tree, 6-10 m in height, with a domed crown. Trunk erect, stout, uniquely swollen at the base, which may grow to 4 m in diameter, spreading above the ground so that the tree appears to be standing on a mound. Bark grey to pale brown, rough; becomes gnarled with age; young branches fleshy green. The trunk and branches contain up to 80% of water. Leaves simple alternate, typical of the family, appearing as terminal whorls; each smooth, oval, somewhat recurved, to 15 cm in length, margin edge appearing white, midrib extending to form a distinct tip; young leaves fresh light-green, leaf stalks and midribs tinged with red. Flowers small, creamy white, with many stamens arising from 5 green sepals hanging in handsome terminal catkins up to 15 cm in length; in flower the tree is striking. Fruits juicy, yellow to black berries with 10 lobes hanging in clusters; irregularly produced after flowering, each 3-7 mm; small, shiny, grey-black seeds are found inside the soft fruits" (Species information about Phytolacca dioica from the AgroForestryTree Database).

Habitat/ecology:  "Grows on nutrient-poor soil, thriving in full sun and dry conditions"  (Staples & Herbst, 2005; p. 452).  "A tree for mild climates, undemanding in soil fertility and resistant to sea winds. The tree is reputed to grow rapidly to its preferred height but is fairly aggressive in gardens, with root suckers appearing readily above the soil. It is resistant to locusts and ants and will withstand hurricanes and prolonged heat and drought" (Species information about Phytolacca dioica from the AgroForestryTree Database).

Propagation:  Seed.  Fruit forms only where male and female trees are planted together (Staples & Herbst, 2005; p. 452).  Can be reproduced from cuttings.

Native range:  Tropical South America (Staples & Herbst, 2005; p. 452).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
cultivated
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
cultivated
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (p. 556)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawai‘i (Big) Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1990) (voucher ID: BISH 557721)
Taxon name on voucher: Phytolacca dioica L.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaho‘olawe Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1980) (voucher ID: BISH 429828)
Taxon name on voucher: Phytolacca dioica L.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
cultivated
Frohlich, Danielle/Lau, Alex (2012) (p. 43)
Voucher cited: A. Lau, D. Frohlich & A. Hebshi 2010120801 (BISH)
Escaping from cultivation and spreading locally and sparingly naturalized.
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island   Bishop Museum (U.S.A. Hawaii. Honolulu.) (1927) (voucher ID: BISH 61505)
Taxon name on voucher: Phytolacca dioica L.
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental) introduced
cultivated
International Center for Research in Agroforestry (2013)
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Perú
Perú
Perú (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)

Comments:  "Phytolacca dioica was imported into southern Europe after the mid 18th century, where it became naturalized in regions with a Mediterranean climate" (Species information about Phytolacca dioica from the AgroForestryTree Database).


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This page was created on 26 FEB 2008 and was last updated on 9 MAY 2017.