One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees constituting the genus Phytolacca (family Phytolaccaceae), chiefly native to subtropical and tropical America and Asia and having racemes of apetalous flowers succeeded by red to black berries; especially pokeweed, P. americana; (in form Phytolacca) the genus itself. Also: a preparation of the dried root of pokeweed, containing phytolaccin and other physiologically active compounds and occasionally used medicinally.
Mid 18th century. From post-classical Latin phytolacca from phyto- + lacca crimson lake.
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