Monday, March 1, 2010

Phytolacca dioica - OMBU

A wide spreading evergreen tree native to South America that can reach up to 100 x 120 feet in size with a massive buttressed trunk up to 10.5 feet in diameter with massive elevated surface roots extending outwards. It is one of the fastest growing trees known and has been grown successfully outside its native range as far as California, Meditteranean Europe and New Zealand where a tree of 50 x 70 feet is recorded. It has locally naturalized in Spain, southern France, Italy & Greece. An Ombu Tree is known to have grown to 30 feet in San Antonio, Texas before freezing back to the roots.
Its foliage resembles its perennial relative - the Pokeberry ( Phytolacca americanan ). The leathery leaves reach up to 18 x 6 inches in size and have a prominent red to purple midrib. The foliage is luxuriant mid-green.
The tiny white flowers are borne in racemes, up to 5 inches in length.
They are followed by golden berries that ripen to black.
Hardy from zones 9 to 11; it is likely to tolerate temperatures as low as 14 F.
Grows well in sun or partial shade on well drained, fertile soil.
Propagation from seed is easily done with the seed soaked in sulfuric acid for 5 minutes before sowing.

* Santiago, Chile

* historic archive photo

Phytolacca x hybrida
A hybrid between Phytolacca dioica and P. weberbaueri; this is one of the worlds fastest growing trees. One such tree in California reached 100 x 80 feet with a trunk diameter of 7 feet in just 24 years. Eventually it becomes slow growing with age but can reach up to 100 x 120 feet in size with massive surface roots up to 50 feet long and 2 feet wide. The foliage is very large and tropical in appearance up to 18 x 8 inches in size.

Non Arboreal Phytolacca

Phytolacca americana ( Pokeweed )
A fast growing to invasive perennial, reaching up to 12 x 4 ( rarely over 8 ) feet, that is native to eastern North America ( from central Nebraska to southern Minnesota to central Michigan to Grand Bend, Ontario to southeast Quebec and New Brunswick; south to central Texas to southern Florida ). It is endangered in the wild in Minnesota. In the Windsor/Essex County, Ontario region; it was abundant along the Detroit River, around Point Pelee, the Lake Erie islands and the Ohio shore during the 1800s.
The ovate leaves, up to 12 x 4.7 inches in size, are mid-green.
The creamy-white flowers are borne on racemes, up to 6 inches in length, from mid-summer into early autumn.
They are followed by black fruits, up to 0.4 inches wide, borne on red stems. The berries are poisonous and should never be eaten by humans.
Hardy zones 4 to 10 in partial shade ( full sun in cooler climates ) on moist, rich soil. Propagation is from seed. The young shoots up to 6 inches tall during spring can be harvested and boiled ( est 10 minutes ) until tender in the same way as asparagus. ALL other parts of the plant are poisonous and should not be eaten.

* photos taken on Aug 1 2011 in Luzerne Co, PA

* photo taken on Sep 24 2013 in Howard Co., MD

* photo taken on Sep 19 2015 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on July 31 2016 in Howard Co., MD

* photo taken on Aug 12 2016 in Howard Co., MD

* photos taken on Aug 20 2016 in Olney, MD

* photo taken on Oct 19 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photo of unknown internet source

A stunning foliage perennial, reaching up to 8 x 8 ( rarely over 6 x 6 ) feet.
The heavily splashed to mostly creamy-yellow foliage contrasts nicely with the red stems.
Propagation is from typically comes nearly 99% true from seed.

* photos taken on Oct 21 2014 @ U.S. Botanical Gardens, Washington, DC

Phytolacca clavigera ( Chinese Pokeweed )
A very handsome, compact perennial, reaching up to 5 feet, that is native to Yunnan Province in southwest China.
The ovate leaves are up to 6 inches in length.
The luxuriant, tropical-looking foliage turns deep yellow during autumn.
The pink flowers are borne on very showy dense racemes up to 12 inches in length.
They are followed by very attractive berries that ripen to black in late summer.
While birds love the berries, they are poisonous to humans.
Hardy zones 6 to 9 in full sun on moist soil.
Propagation from seed is easy from seed sown upon ripening and sheltered during the first winter.

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