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Phytolacca sandwicensis | by D.Eickhoff
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Phytolacca sandwicensis

Pōpolo kū mai or Hawaiian pokeweed

Phytolaccaceae (Pokeweed family)

Endemic to the Hawaiian Islands (Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island)

Photo: Kīpukapuala, Hawaiʻi Island


Early Hawaiians used the dark purple berries of pōpolo kū mai as a tattoo dye.



The generic name Phytolacca is Greek for plant dye, referring to the sap of the fruit.


The species name sandwicensis refers to the "Sandwich Islands," as the Hawaiian Islands were once called, and named by James Cook on one of his voyages in the 1770s. James Cook named the islands after John Montagu (The fourth Earl of Sandwich) for supporting Cook's voyages.

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Taken on March 7, 2011