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Actaea rubra (Aiton) Willd.
USDA Symbol: ACRU2
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Flower:
Green, Red Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
, WY Canada: AB
, QC Native Distribution:
Transcontinental Canada, s. to NJ, IA, KS
& CA Native Habitat:
Rich, moist, deciduous
& coniferous woods & thickets
Growing ConditionsLight 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).
BenefitWarning: 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
Propagated by root division in early spring or fall, or by seed sown outside, 1/2 deep, as soon as ripe. Seeds germinate the following year and flower
the third year. Seed Collection:
Approximate collection date for northern U.S.: late Jun. through Jul. Seed Treatment:
Two periods of cold treatment, inbetween which is a period of warm treatment, may hasten otherwise slow germination. Commercially Avail:
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Plant identification, possibly Actaea rubra, red baneberry
August 06, 2008
I came across a plant that has leaves similar to the astillbe shrub, stands about 3 feet high, and instead of a flower spire, has a chunk of bright red berries the size of medium-sized pearls atop its...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
Record Last Modified: 2012-10-03
Research By: TWC Staff