Herbs with alternate, entire leaves and perfect, 5-parted, hypogynous flowers.
Calyx free. Stamens 5 to 30, alternate with the sepals when of the same number.
Ovary usually compound, of several carpels, each 1-ovuled cohering in a circle.
Genera 20, species so, scattered in all parts of the world. Their properties arc purgative or emetic, yet hitherto little used or understood.
1. PHYTOLAC'CA, Tourn. Poke. Gargot-weed. (Gr. a plant, Lat. lacca, lac or lake; from the juice of the berries.) Calyx 5-parted, resembling a corolla; stamens 5 to 25; styles and carpels 5 to 12; berry superior, depressed, globular, with as many seeds as styles. - Herbaceous. Rac. terminal, soon becoming opposite the leaves.
P. decandra L. Lvs. ovate, acute at both ends; fls. with 10 stamens and 10 styles. - Roadsides, U. S. and Can., common. Root very large and branching. St with a diam. of 1 to 2', 5 to 8f high, round, smooth, branching, and when mature of a fine, deep purple. Lvs. 5' by 2 to 3', smooth, of a rich green color, entire and petioled. Rac. cylindric, long, at first terminal, becoming finally opposite the leaves. Fls. greenish-white. Fruit a dark purple berry, with juice staining a beautiful purple color. Jl. - Sept.
2. RIVI'NA, Plum. (In memory of A. Q. Rivinus, Prof, of Botany at Leipzic.) Calyx 4-parted, 3-bracteolate; sepals equal, snberect in fruit; stamens 4 or 8; ovary 1-cellcd, 1-styled, 1-ovuled, berry at length, dry, globular, with 1 vertical seed; embryo annular. - Half shrubby, with alternate, petiolate, pinnate-veined lvs. and fls. in simple terminal, soon lateral racemes.
R. laevis L. Erect, branched, glabrous and bright green; lvs. ovate, acuminate, subeordate or obtuse at base, subcrenulate; rac. longer than the leaves; fls. rose-white, green in fruit; stam. 4; sep. oval, obtuse. - Fla. to Tex. Plant 6 to 8 high, much resembling in aspect Phytolacca. St. furrowed. Lvs. 2 to 4' by 1 to 2', petioles 1' to 18". Sep. enlarged in fruit, then 2" long.