Forest inkberry

Forest inkberry

Phytolacca octandra

Common Name:

Forest inkberry

Scientific Name:

Phytolacca octandra

Alternative common names:

Eightstamen pokeweed, Forest inkberry, Ink weed,Southern pokeberry, Tropical pokeweed 


This is an erect, short-lived perennial (living more than 1 growing season) herb with woody base, growing to 2m tall. Stems are green with a reddish tinge, smooth and hairless. Often found in moist areas but may be found in any disturbed area where birds have dropped the seed.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Tropical America

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Western Cape Wine lands

How does it spread?

Spread are usually dispersed by birds and other animals (e.g. foxes) that eat its fruit

Why is it a problem?

Phytolacca octandra contains phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin, which are poisonous to mammals though they seldom graze it.

What does it look like?

Leaves: Are elliptic to pear or lance shaped, green turning red. The hairless leaf to 16cm long has an entire margin with petiole (stem) to 40mm long

Flowers: Flowers are white or greenish-white in colour and borne on short stalks or

Fruit/seeds: Berry with reddish-purple juice when ripe and crushed. The colour of the fruit changes from red to purple-black when ripe. The fruit is 8-lobed and 8-seeded.

Does the plant have any uses?

The roots of the plants is used for medicine purposes

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