Belombre, Phytolacca dioica
Etymology:from Greek, phyton, "plant", and Persian laq, "varnishes" in allusion to the carmine colour of the juice of the fruit of some species. The word " dioica " reminds the separation of flowers on male and female feet. Belombre comes from "bella ombra" because of the dense crown, which gives a nice shade.
Origin: South America. Big entire oval leaves.
Habitat: Belombre appreciates a sunny position or partial shade.
Hardiness: zone 9 (it supports cold until -7 °C or 19 °F).
Lifespan: more than 100 years.
Rate of Growth: fast.
Height: 15 m tall.
Shape: globose crown.
Bark: smooth (as that of the beech).
Persistent or semi-deciduous foliage according to climate. Simple leaves, of 12 cm long by 5 cm wide, oval, pointed (acuminate) and petiolate. Glazed top.
Flowers hanging in clusters in May-June. Colour: white-green.
Fruits in clusters. Yellowish then crimson fleshy berries.
Propagation methods: seedling
Toxicity: the berries of American Belombre, Phytolacca americana, contain toxic substances.
Use: ornamental tree to be planted in a mild climate because it fears strong freezes. it supports seasides. Avoid planting it too much near a home. Its roots, as those of the laurel or of the eucalyptus, can destroy pipes.
Fruits give a carmine dye (hence the Latin name).
Finally, its wood is light and lacks of density.