Phytolacca octandra


Also known as:

Red inkplant, pokeweed

Family: Phytolaccaceae

Origin: Mexico, Central and South America

Inkweed leaf tips and flower heads.
A common agricultural weed that is fast growing. Soft stems that are pungent when crushed.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Not a legally declared pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Herbaceous perennial shrub < 3 m tall. Stems are often reddish and become slightly woody with age. Leaves are alternate and entire, with pointed tips.

Flowers are green turning pink and borne in cylindrical clusters in November – August. Fruits are succulent purple/black berries and contain glossy black seeds.

What you need to know

Although inkweed is not a legally declared pest plant, it may still be invasive in some situations. Consider lower risk alternatives for your garden, such as native plants.


Disturbed forest and shrubland, grassland, cliffs, coastal areas, riparian margins, wasteland, roadsides.


Seeds dispersed by birds and water.

Impact on environment

Can form dense stands in open areas and suppress native seedling recruitment.


Site Management

Will quickly become succeeded by taller native species so only control in open or sensitive areas. Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds.

Disposal options: Small amounts can be rotted in a covered water barrel or remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with glyphosate gel. Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 100ml glyphosate green per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Inkweed bush with grasses.
Fragile herb that can easily break in the wind. Stems become woody as they age.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Close up of immature seed head.
Birds spread seeds which germinate and grow quickly. Easily removed by pulling out of the ground.
Photo credit: Jonathan Boow
Inkweed stem tip with three immature seed spikes.
Seeds start out green and mature to dark red/ black. Can take over paddocks and native bush areas.