Actea Rubra, Red Baneberry

arcy_gwJuly 7, 2007

A few months ago I was asking for help identifying a volunteer to my woodland garden. I think I found it. Red Baneberry! I am excited to have a name. I sure love this plant. I looked but found very little information on it on the web. Anyone have experience with it? Anything I should know. I read the berries are poisonous and it is natural to the north, but that is about all the information I found.

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waplummer(Z5 NY)

My berries have ripened and they sure are dramatic. The berries are indeed poisonous hence the bane in the common name. It is also known as red cohosh. The other baneberry is Actea pachypoda, common name of doll's eyes or white cohosh. I have the rubracarpa form of this with reddish instead of white fruit.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 10:23PM
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It is such an attractive plant. The white flowers in the spring, it looks like a little maple with those leaves and now the deep bright berries. Too bad they are not edible to some woodland creature.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 7:31AM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

They may well be edible to some creature, after all, poison ivy berries are a staple food for many birds here in southern Ontario but you sure wouldn't catch me making jam or pies out of it. ;o)

southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:54PM
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knottyceltic(S/W Ontario 5b)

This is from a USDA forest services website:

Red baneberry fruit is consumed by several bird species including the yellow-bellied sapsucker, American robin, wood thrush, gray-cheeked thrush, brown thrasher, gray catbird, and grouse [50,81]. Some small mammals also eat the berries including deer mice, white-footed mice, red
squirrel, eastern chipmunks, and redbacked voles [50,81]. Several species of birds that use baneberry eat the fruit but void the seeds, while some of the small mammals remove and eat the seeds leaving the the pulp

southern Ontario, CANADA

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 8:02PM
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well_drained(z6a MA)

I know something eats our Actaea rubra berries - they're usually all gone by mid-September. So I guess it's only poisonous to some species (including Homo sapiens). Makes sense - if nothing eats the berries and then spreads the seeds around, why take the trouble to make berries in the first place?

-- wd

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 12:13PM
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Thank-you so much for the information. I am elated that they are not as poisonous as I thought. If anything could be harmed I would feel guilty for liking, and growing the plant.! Happy News!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 4:51PM
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