Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Other Latin names:  Phytolacca icosandra L.

Common name(s): [more details]

English: inkweed, phytolacca, pokeweed, red inkplant, scorpion tail, Southern pokeberry, tropical pokeweed

Spanish: almorsaca, jaboncillo, mazorquilla

Habit:  shrub

Description:  "Branched perennial herbs 4-6 (-15) dm tall; stems often reddish, angular.  Leaves elliptic-lanceolate to narrowly elliptic or lanceolate, 6-22 cm long, 1.7-7.5 cm wide, usually glabrous, sometimes lower surface sparsely puberulent along veins, margins entire, petioles 1-3 cm long. Flowers in racemes 7-14 cm long, usually moderately puberulent, peduncles 0.5-2 (-3) cm long, pedicels 0.5-2 mm long, bract 2-2.5 mm long, bracteoles ca. 1 mm long; sepals 5, white to sometimes dark pink, oblong to ovate, ca. 2-3 mm long; stamens 8-10, in a single whorl; ovary 7-8 (-10)-carpellate, the carpels connate throughout.  Berries purple, 7-8 (-10)-ribbed, ca. 4-6 mm in diameter.  Seeds black, lenticular, smooth, ca. 2 mm in diameter" (Wagner et al., 1999; pp. 1015-1016).

Habitat/ecology:  In Hawai‘i, "naturalized in dry pastures and mesic to wet forest, 10-1,280 m" (Wagner et al., 1999; pp. 1015-1016). In New Caledonia, "mauvaise herbe longtemps présente mais jamais commune" (MacKee, 1994; p. 114). In New Zealand, "most abundant in cut-over scrub and forest where it can form dense stands, often in partial shade, but in moister areas commonest in more open habitats such as waste places, river beds, old pastures, neglected or abandoned fields and gardens" (Webb et al., 1988; p. 941).

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  Neotropics.

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Pacific offshore islands)
Norfolk Islands
Norfolk Island introduced
invasive
Orchard, Anthony E., ed. (1994) (p. 10)
"A common weed, introduced many years ago". Vouchers cited: M. Lazarides 8049 (CANB, K), P.S. Green 1449 (A)
Cook Islands
Cook Islands
Cook Islands   McCormack, Gerald (2013)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Volcán Alcedo, Isabela Island native
Charles Darwin Research Station (2005)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Volcán Cerro Azul, Isabela Island native
Charles Darwin Research Station (2005)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Isabela Group
Volcán Sierra Negra, Isabela Island native
Charles Darwin Research Station (2005)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santa Cruz Group
Santa Cruz Island native
Charles Darwin Research Station (2005)
Ecuador (Galápagos Islands)
Santiago Group
Santiago Island native
Charles Darwin Research Station (2005)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Kaua‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 1015-1016)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Lāna‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 1015-1016)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Maui Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 1015-1016)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Moloka‘i Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 1015-1016)
Voucher cited: Faurie 1 (BISH)
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
O‘ahu Island introduced
invasive
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (pp. 1015-1016)
New Caledonia
Îles Loyauté (Loyalte Islands)
Îles Loyauté (Loyalty Islands) introduced
invasive
Tassin, Jacques (2005)
New Caledonia
Îles Loyauté (Loyalte Islands)
Île Maré introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 114)
Vouchers cited: Däniker 2655 (Z), Sarasin 461 (Z)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
Tassin, Jacques (2005)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
MacKee, H. S. (1994) (p. 114)
Vouchers cited: Deplanche 93 s.loc., Delacour s.n., Balansa 3030, Franc 590, MacKee 3903, Toutain 3376 (NOU), Suprin 1852
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)   Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. (1979) (p. 279)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Queensland Herbarium (2002) (p. 6)
Colombia
Colombia
Colombia (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Ecuador (Mainland)
Ecuador
Ecuador (Republic of) (continental) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
El Salvador
El Salvador
El Salvador (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Honduras
Honduras
Honduras (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Mexico
Mexico
Mexico (United Mexican States) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Owen, S. J. (1997)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 941)
Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Panama
Panama
Panama (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)
Perú
Perú
Perú (Republic of) native
U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. (2013)

Control: 

Physical:  "Pull out small plants: Leave on site to rot down., minimise disturbance.

Chemical:  1. Slash stems close to ground. Leave on site to rot down. 2. Cut down and paint stump (all year round): metsulferon-methyl 600g/kg (1g/L)"  (Weedbusters New Zealand).

Additional information:
Photos and additional information at the Environment Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, web site of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Information sheet from Weedbusters New Zealand.

Additional online information about Phytolacca octandra is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Phytolacca octandra as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Phytolacca octandra may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Charles Darwin Research Station. 2005. CDRS Herbarium records.

Haselwood, E. L./Motter, G. G. 1983. Handbook of Hawaiian Weeds. Second edition, revised and expanded by Robert T. Hirano. University of Hawaii Press. 491 pp.

Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. 1979. A geographical atlas of world weeds. John Wiley & Sons, New York. 391 pp.

MacKee, H. S. 1994. Catalogue des plantes introduites et cultivées en Nouvelle-Calédonie. Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, 164 p.

McCormack, Gerald. 2013. Cook Islands Biodiversity Database, Version 2007.2. Cook Islands Natural Heritage Trust, Rarotonga.

Orchard, Anthony E., ed. 1994. Flora of Australia. Vol. 49, Oceanic islands 1. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Owen, S. J. 1997. Ecological weeds on conservation land in New Zealand: A database. Working draft. Wellington, New Zealand. Department of Conservation.

Queensland Herbarium. 2002. Invasive Naturalised Plants in Southeast Queensland, alphabetical by genus. Modified from: Batianoff, George N. and Butler, Don W. (2002). Assessment of Invasive naturalized plants in south-east Queensland. Appendix. Plant Protection Quarterly 17, 27-34. 11 pp.

Swarbrick, John T. 1997. Weeds of the Pacific Islands. Technical paper no. 209. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 124 pp.

Tassin, Jacques. 2005. Jacques Tassin (IAC-CIRAD), personal communication.

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. 1999. Manual of the flowering plants of Hawaii. Revised edition. Bernice P. Bishop Museum special publication. University of Hawai‘i Press/Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu. 1919 pp. (two volumes).

Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. 1988. Flora of New Zealand, Volume IV: Naturalised pteridophytes, gymnosperms, dicotyledons. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch. 1365 pp.


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 5 AUG 2002 and was last updated on 22 AUG 2011.