Not exactly the usual beautiful photo from BPotD today, but a very interesting plant. The first image is in the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden, the second image showing the flower buds was taken in a Buenos Aires park.
Posts often appear on the UBC Botanical Garden forums from people seeking identification for plants that have appeared in people’s gardens—like this or this (remember the song?). One of the most common ID requests is for Phytolacca americana, poke weed—the plant in the two cited posts. Its striking purple berries and rapid growth get it noticed. Gardeners, unfamiliar with the plant are often quite surprised and a little wary of this invader that seems to grow to a metre or more in a very short time.
The South American relative, Phytolacca dioica is also quick growing, but grows to the size of trees, to almost 20 metres. The wood is very soft and the plant often forms a large swollen base with multiple trunks. The evergreen foliage forms a large canopy, which provides shade for the gauchos on the pampas. Toxins in the plant protect it from grazers and pests.