PlantsActaea→Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Red Baneberry
Give a thumbs up Snakeberry

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade
Water Preferences: Wet
Wet Mesic
Plant Height: 2-3 feet
Plant Spread: 2 feet
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Other: Oval green berries containing several seeds. The berries ripen to red or white with a black dot.
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Spring
Late spring or early summer
Wildlife Attractant: Birds
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Toxicity: Fruit is poisonous
Other: All parts of plant are poisonous; the fruit/berries being the most toxic.
Propagation: Seeds: Depth to plant seed: .5 in.
Other info: Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe. Seeds germinate the following year after planting and flower the third year.
Propagation: Other methods: Division


Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Jan 15, 2012 4:09 PM

Native to rich woods across Canada and the northern half of the United States, Red Baneberry is the red-fruited counterpart of Doll's Eyes, Actaea pachypoda. Plants are long-lived and trouble free, forming 2 ft. clumps of twice or thrice cut leaves like very coarse fern leaves. One-half inch, puffy, creamy white spring flowers mature into clusters of bright red, poisonous, bitter berries, unlikely to be eaten by birds or humans. The berries persist into late summer. A plant for deep to partial shade and good soil. (Sunlight Gardens)

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Posted by eclayne (Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA - Zone 6a) on Jul 1, 2014 12:29 PM

Per the Flora of North America both plants can have red or white berries. The pedicel color appears to be a good way to differentiate between the two.

Actaea rubra:

Pedicel in fruit dull green or brown, slender...berries red or white.

Actaea pachypoda:
Pedicel in fruit bright red, stout...berries white, very rarely red.

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Posted by BrendaVR (Ontario, Canada - Zone 6a) on Sep 13, 2014 1:25 PM

I agree that the pedicel color can be useful to identify between Red and White, but keep in mind that the colour will be showing only when the berries are ripe. When you have flowers or unripe berries, look to the thickness of the pedicel: slender vs thick. Red has quite thin pedicels.

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Posted by Cakeholemoon (Garfield, WA - Zone 6a) on Feb 21, 2018 10:51 PM

There is a big patch of these plants growing in Latah County, Idaho. I do not have this plant at my home for fear that a person or an animal may eat a berry by accident. "The berries, foliage, and roots are highly poisonous. As few as two berries can induce vomiting, bloody diarrhea and finally cardiac arrest or respiratory system paralysis." (from Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest by Parish, Coupe, and Lloyd).

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