Rivina humilis

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Rivina humilis
Rivina humilis (fruit).jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Phytolaccaceae
Genus: Rivina
Species: R. humilis
Binomial name
Rivina humilis

Rivina laevis L.[1]

Rivina humilis is a species of flowering plant in the pokeweed family, Phytolaccaceae, that is native to the Americas. It can be found in the southern United States, the Caribbean, Central America, and tropical South America. Common names include pigeonberry, rouge plant, baby peppers,[2] bloodberry, and coralito.[1] The specific epithet means "dwarfish" or "lowly" in Latin, referring to the plant's short stature.[3]


Pigeonberry is an erect, vine-like[4] herb,[2] reaching a height of 0.4–2 m (1.3–6.6 ft).[4] The leaves of this evergreen perennial[5] are up to 15 cm (5.9 in) wide and 9 cm (3.5 in), with a petiole 1–11 cm (0.39–4.33 in) in length. Flowers are on racemes 4–15 cm (1.6–5.9 in) long with a peduncle 1–5 cm (0.39–1.97 in) in length and pedicels 2–8 mm (0.079–0.315 in) long. Sepals are 1.5–3.5 mm (0.059–0.138 in) in length and white or green to pink or purplish.[4] The fruit is a glossy, bright red berry[3] 2.5–5 mm (0.098–0.197 in) in diameter.[4]

Rivina humilis plant with fruit and flowers.


Rivinia humilis can be found in forests, thickets, shell middens, hammocks, roadsides, and disturbed areas at elevations from sea level to 1,700 m (5,600 ft).[4] It requires less than partial sun and is tolerant of full shade. It is also tolerant of salt spray and saline soils.[5]


Pigeonberry is cultivated as an ornamental in warm regions throughout the world[4] and is valued as a shade-tolerant groundcover.[6] It is also grown as a houseplant[7] and in greenhouses.[4]

The juice made from the berries was used as a dye and ink at one time. The berries contain a pigment known as Rivianin or Rivinianin,[3] which has the IUPAC name 5-O-β-D-Glucopyranoside, 3-sulfate, CAS number 58115-21-2, and molecular formula C24H26N2O16S.[8] It is very similar to betanin, the pigment found in beets.[3] The fruit also contains the betaxanthin humilixanthin.[9]

The juice of the berries have been tested in male rats and are reported to be safe to consume.[10]


R. humilis is a host plant for the caterpillars of Goodson's Greenstreak (Cyanophrys goodsoni)[11]


  1. ^ a b "Rivina humilis L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-03-12. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Rivina humilis L.". Native Plant Information Network. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  3. ^ a b c d Nellis, David W (1997). Poisonous Plants and Animals of Florida and the Caribbean. Pineapple Press Inc. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-56164-111-6. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Rivina humilis Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 121. 1753". Flora of North America. eFloras.org. Retrieved 2009-12-11. 
  5. ^ a b "Pigeonberry Rivina humilis". Ornamental for the Texas Gulf Coast. Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  6. ^ Garrett, Howard (1996). Howard Garrett's Plants for Texas. University of Texas Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-292-72788-5. 
  7. ^ "Pigeon Berry Latin Name: Rivina humilis". Plant Encyclopedia. PlantCare.com. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  8. ^ D. C. Ayres, ed. (1994). Dictionary of Natural Products 7. CRC Press. p. 645. ISBN 978-0-412-46620-5. 
  9. ^ Humilixanthin a new betaxanthin from Rivina humilis. Dieter Strack, Doris Schmitt, Hans Reznik, Wilhelm Boland, Lutz Grotjahn and Victor Wray, Phytochemistry, 1987, Volume 26, Issue 8, Pages 2285–2287, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)84702-0
  10. ^ Food Chem Toxicol., December 2011, volume 49, issue 12, pages 3154-3157
  11. ^ "Goodson's Greenstreak Cyanophrys goodsoni (Clench, 1946)". Butterflies and Moths of North America. Retrieved 2010-08-22.