by Stephen Mifsud
   12 Jun 2024      ()
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Phytolacca americana   (American Pokeweed)

Phytolacca americana  (PHYTOLACCACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Oct-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Phytolacca americana - datasheet created on Oct-2007. Retrieved from on 12-Jun-2024

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Phytolacca americanaL.
Published in Sp. Pl. : 441 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Phytolacca decandra L.
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Phytolaccaceae R. Br. (The Pokeweed Family)
2 species from the Phytolaccaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

American Pokeweed, American nightshade, Cancer Jalap

Maltese name(s) :


Status for Malta :

Naturalised Alien. Species that was introduced in Malta after year 1492 (Columbus' discovery of the New World) and spreads and integrates to form established, non-invasive populations. Species may become become invasive if it widespreads rapidly.

Frequency :

Data not available - casual or short-lived in the wild from accidental garden or agriculture escape

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: HEMICRYPTOPHYTE ( prostate plants with flowers close to the ground )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

June – December

Colour of Flowers:

Green or Red


Mildy toxic, can cause adverse conditions if consumed in large quantities

Name Derivation :


Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Waste places.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Botanical Description: Glabrous, perennial herb, somewhat woody at the base. Stems 1-3 m, subdichotomously branched, often red, with decurrent ridges from the leaf-bases. Leaves 12-25 x 5-10 cm, ovate-lanceolate, petiolate. Racemes c. 10 cm, more or less erect, drooping in fruit. Flowers hermaphrodite. Perianth-segments 2.5 mm, broadly ovate, greenish-white, turning reddish in fruit. Stamens 10. Carpels 10, united except for the styles. Fruit 10 mm in diameter, depressed-globose, purplish-black.
Chromosome number: 2n=36
Distributional range: Cultivated for ornament and for dye from the berries widely naturalized in S. Europe, and locally in C. & W. Europe.
Native region outside Europe: (United States.)

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Introduced in Albania, Austria and Liechtenstein, the Azores, the Balaeric Islands, Bulgaria, Corse, Crete, Czeck Republic and Slovakia, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Germany, Greece, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Hungary, Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Romania, Russia and former USSR, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Turkey (European part)
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
[Ab(A) nAE(G) nAg nAl cAu aAu(A) nAz(C F G J L M P S T) cBe(B) BH nBl(I M N) -Br nBu By nCa(H T) Cg nCo nCr aCs nCt Cy -Eg nGa Ga(F) nGe Gg nGr nHe nHo nHs(G S) nHu Ir nIt nJu aLS nLu nMa nMd(M) Mk Mo Rf(C CS E NW) nRm nSa nSi(M S) nSk Sl Sr nTn nTu(A E) nUk(K) Uk(U)]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (11 images)
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-0.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-1.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-2.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-3.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-4.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-5.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-6.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-7.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-8.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-9.
   Phytolacca americana   -   Image Code: PYTAM-10.

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