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a genus of plants of the family Phytolaccaceae. They are perennial herbs or, rarely, shrubs and arboreal forms. The leaves are alternate and entire. The flowers, which are small and generally unisexual, are gathered in racemose inflorescences. The perianth is simple and usually five-parted. The fruit is a juicy berry. There are approximately 35 species, distributed in tropical and subtropical regions, primarily in America. One species, pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), has been imported to the USSR; it grows in the Caucasus near dwellings and along roads. Its roots and shoots are extremely poisonous. The young green shoots are used like asparagus. Pokeweed is cultivated in winegrowing regions of Europe and Asia for its berries, which yield a dye for wine. The roots, leaves, and berries of P. acinosa, which grows in the Himalayas, China, and Japan, are used as food.