Actaea pachypoda Elliott
Actaea pachypoda Elliot
Actaea alba auct. non (L.) Mill.
White baneberry, doll’s eyes
Baneberries are members of the buttercup family. They are natives of eastern North America, and live in wooded areas.
Identification: If it is the time of year for them, baneberries’ most distinguishing feature is, well, the berries. Relatively few plants produce white berries, and the small black or purplish dots at one end of each berry led to the common name “doll’s eyes.” The stalks supporting the berries are conspicuously colored (photo 7). If it isn’t the time of year for the berries, the sharp-toothed leaf clusters are fairly distinctive in shape. In addition to the red berries, red baneberries have rounder flower clusters, vs. the more cone-shaped cluster in white baneberries. On all of the baneberries, leaves often occur in groups of three, on thin stems, and are saw-toothed.
Some variants are compared below:
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Actaea pachypoda f. rubrocarpa
|Flowers||Flowerheads of small white flowers are roughly oval in shape. Each flower is ¼" (6.3 mm) across.||Flowerheads of small white flowers are roughly oval in shape. Each flower is ¼" (6.3 mm) across.||Feathery flowerheads of small white flowers are roughly oval in shape. Each flower is ¼" (6.3 mm) across. Flowers have a roselike fragrance.|
|Fruit||White berries supported by red pedicels that are ⅛" (3 mm) or more in thickness. Berry tips have black-purple spot.||Red berries supported by pedicels that are ⅛" (3 mm) or more in thickness. Instead of the tomato red of red baneberry, these berries have a more luminous deep magenta color, becoming more purplish with time.||Bright or dark red, oval berries are supported by pedicels that are less than ⅛" (3 mm) thick.|
USDA Zones: 3-8
Edibility: All parts of this plant are poisonous. As few as two of these very bitter berries may be fatal to children; a half dozen can cause cardiac arrest and bizarre neurological symptoms in an adult. The roots and leaves also contain several poisons that are dangerous when ingested and can cause skin blisters.
Actaea pachypoda on Missouriplants.com
Actaea pachypoda at Illinois Wildflowers
Actaea pachypoda on Wikipedia
Actaea pachypoda at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Actaea pachypoda on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site
Actaea pachypoda on CalPhotos
Actaea pachypoda on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Actaea pachypoda on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Actaea pachypoda on eFloras
Actaea pachypoda description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Sep 2020.