Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Actaea rubra

Red baneberry

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Actaea rubra (Red baneberry)
Makin, Julie
A bushy plant with large, highly divided leaves and a short, thick, rounded cluster of small white flowers in leaf axils or at stem ends. The branched, 1-3 ft. stems of this perennial bear two or three large compound leaves, each thrice divided. Leaflets are deeply saw-toothed. Above the foliage are dense, globular clusters of small white flowers. The fruit is an attractive, but poisonous, red berry.

In flower, the stamens give each cluster a feathery appearance.

Image Gallery:

14 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit: Green, Red
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AK , AZ , CA , CO , CT , ID , IL , IN , IA , KS , ME , MA , MI , MN , MT , NE , NV , NH , NJ , NM , NY , ND , OH , OR , PA , RI , SD , UT , VT , WA , WI , WY
Canada: AB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Transcontinental Canada, s. to NJ, IA, KS & CA
Native Habitat: Rich, moist, deciduous & coniferous woods & thickets

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Well-drained, humus-rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Red baneberry is often found in association with its close relative, White baneberry (Actaea alba).


Warning: The berries of Red Baneberry (and White Baneberry) are very poisonous if ingested and may affect the nervous system. European species have fatally poisoned children, but baneberries are not reported to have caused death to humans or livestock in the United States. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil. POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, mainly showy berries and roots. Toxic if eaten in large quantities. Symptoms include burning of mouth and throat, salivation, severe stomach cramps, headache, diarrhea, dizziness and hallucinations. Toxic Principle: Unknown, glycoside or essential oil, protoanemonin. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Last Update: 2012-10-03