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Health Services > Queensland Poisons Information Centre

Plants and Mushrooms


 Flower spike of the inkweedInkweed flowersInkweedInkweed berries


Category 1 toxicity iconCategory 2 toxicity icon


 Common name   Inkweed
 Botanical name   Phytolacca  octandra
 Other common names   red-ink plant; dyeberry;
Family   Phytolaccaceae
 General description   Perennial herb or small shrub with smooth succulent stems growing to 2m. Often found as a weed of waste places, creek banks and roadsides.
Flowers   Flowers are white to pale green becoming purplish, held in dense axillary racemes or spikes 7-15cm long,
Leaves   The soft leaves are elliptic to ovate, tapered into the petiole, 5-25cm long and 1-8cm wide, with entire margins.
 Fruit/Berries   Fruits are succulent flattened globose berries, purplish black when ripe with 7 to 8 segments, about 8mm in diameter and held in compact clusters along a spike (raceme). The berry contains about 6-8 hard shiny seeds.
Other   Copious red juice exuded from berries.
Symptoms   All parts of the plant are poisonous. Symptoms from ingestion may include headache, burning in the mouth, abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhoea. The acrid sap can cause skin irritation.
Toxicity category   1, 2
Warning   Seek medical attention if exposure causes symptoms.

Last Updated: 20 July 2010
Last Reviewed: 20 July 2010