Phytolacca acinosa seeds, Asian pokeweed
Phytolacca acinosa belongs to the family of the Phytolaccaceae, the pokeweeds. It is native to South East Asia. P. acinosa is also known as Asian pokeweed.
P. acinosa is a perennial, herbaceous plant. It reaches a height between 1 m and 1,5 m.
The leaves of the pokeweed are ovate to elliptic. They get 30 cm long. The leaves have short petioles and a clearly visible white midrib.
The flowers of P. acinosa are 4 mm small. The leaves of the calyx are white. The pokeweed lacks petals. The stamens are clearly visible because they have pink anthers. The flowers are clustered in inflorescences. The flower develops into a berry, the fruit of P. acinosa. The berry looks a little bit like a blackberry. It is red or blackish and contains the small, black, round and glossy seeds. Birds eat the berries. In that way the seeds get distributed.
P. acinosa is poisonous in all parts. The shoot and the leaves get even more poisonous the older the plant gets. The berry is less poisonous when it is older but the seeds remain extremely poisonous. In its native country the young parts of the pokeweed are cooked and eaten like vegetables. However one should not try this because one can never say how old a plant and though how poisonous a plant is. In addition the concentration of the poison in the young plants can vary as well.
The roots of P. acinosa are thick. They are the most poisonous part of the plant. A related species Phytolacca americana is even more poisonous but one should not underrate P. acinosa in comparison.
P. acinosa is part of the traditional Chinese medicine. P. acinosa is mainly used to treat cough. But it can also reduce pain and is used to fasten wound healing. In Europe the pokeweed is used as an ornamental plant. It can already be found in the flora of Austria where it was naturalized and distributes very fast.
P. acinosa germinates cold. That means it needs a cold period before planting. This stratification can be done in the fridge. Therefore the seeds have to be stored in the fridge for about 4 to 6 weeks. After that they can be planted into the substrate. At a temperature of about 22°C and constantly moist substrate germination occurs after 3 to 6 weeks. The pokeweed is demand less and distributes rapid.
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