South American Umbra Tree

Phytolacca dioica

Ombú, Bella Sombra, Bella Umbra, Ombu, Ombu Tree, Tree Poke

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Phytolacca dioica fruits by RuB (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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A close up of a Phytolacca dioica tree with green foliage and yellow fruits
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Phytolacca dioica fruits by RuB (CC BY-SA 3.0)
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Phytolacca dioica is a large, spreading deciduous species in the Phytolaccaceae family. Originating from South America, this large plant produces a wide canopy and may have multiple trunks growing from a large base, it can reach 15m in spread and 18m in height! Leaves are large, oval to lance-shaped and attractively veined, flowers are small and white in colour, leading onto yellow fruits. This plant is particularly interesting because it is unique in its genus. The other species in Phytolacca are entirely herbaceous plants, this large tree doesn't produce true wood but rather the woodiness is a result of a process known as secondary thickening. This results in a fast-growing tree, with soft and spongy wood in comparison to typical trees. Due to this softness, this plant is a popular choice for applying bonsai techniques to as the wood is malleable and easy to train. Invasive status varies by location, this plant is classed as a minor invasive species in South Africa. In other areas such as regions of South America, it is grown as a ornamental or shade tree.

Related Plants


Flowering time

Summer, Autumn

Fruiting time




Sow seed in spring.

Special features

Attractive flowers

Attractive leaves

Attractive fruits

Special features


South America



Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture


Soil type

Clay, Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Frost hardiness





Flower colour