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Actaea pachypoda (White baneberry)
Makin, Julie

Actaea pachypoda

Actaea pachypoda Elliott

White Baneberry, Dolls Eyes

Ranunculaceae (Buttercup Family)

Synonym(s): Actaea alba

USDA Symbol: acpa

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

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

59 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 30 inches tall.
Fruit: White or red

Bloom Information

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


USA: 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 Conditions

Light 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.


Warning: 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


Description: 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.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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.

From the National Organizations Directory

According 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


Bibref 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 resources

USDA: Find Actaea pachypoda in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Actaea pachypoda in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Actaea pachypoda


Record Modified: 2022-09-15
Research By: TWC Staff

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