Actaea pachypoda Elliott
White Baneberry, Dolls Eyes
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)
Synonym(s): Actaea alba
USDA Symbol: acpa
The branched stems 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. Fruit is an attractive but poisonous, white berry.
This plant is sometimes called "Doll's Eyes" because the shiny white fruits resemble the china eyes once used in dolls. A red-fruited form of this species is distinguished from the otherwise similar Red Baneberry (A. rubra) by its thick floral stalk.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 30 inches tall.
Fruit: White or red
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: P.E.I. to s. Man., s. to FL, LA & KS
Native Habitat: Deciduous woods & thickets
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Various well-drained, humus-rich soils.
Conditions Comments: Often found in association with Actaea rubra.
BenefitWarning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, mainly 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
Fragrant Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: 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.
Seed Collection: Approximate collection date for northern U.S.: Aug.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
Find Seed or Plants
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Longwood Gardens - Kennett Square, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 902 - Ex situ plant conservation : supporting species survival in the wild (2004) Guerrant, E. O.; K. Havens; M. Maunder
Bibref 663 - Poisonous Plants of North Carolina (1994) Vondracek, W. ; L. Van Asch
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Actaea pachypoda in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Actaea pachypoda in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Actaea pachypoda
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-09-15
Research By: TWC Staff