Bella Sombra (Phytolacca dioica)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Bella Sombra
Phytolacca dioica
Phytolaccaceae

A red ink is obtained from the fruit.

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves and shoots – cooked and used as a vegetable[183]. The leaves should not be eaten raw and only the young leaves should be used since they become toxic with age.

    The fruits are made into jellies or jams and are also used as a red colouring for food[183]. Some caution is advised. See notes on toxicity.

  • Cautionary Notes

    The leaves are poisonous. They are said to be alright to eat when young, the toxins developing as they grow older. Other parts of the plant, including the fruit, are likely to be poisonous.

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow autumn or spring in a cold frame[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it might be worthwhile trying an outdoor sowing in a seed bed in early spring. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for their first year and plant them out the following spring. Division in March or October. Use a sharp spade or knife to divide the rootstock, making sure that each section has at least one growth bud. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils[1], though preferring a moisture retentive fertile soil in full sun or partial shade[200]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10¡c[200]. A spreading shade-giving tree in its native habitat, it might develop as a shrub in a warm sheltered position in Britain[200]. The young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233].
S. America – Argentina.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.