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Actaea pachypoda Ell.
White baneberry, Dolls eyes
Synonyms: Actaea alba
USDA Symbol: ACPA
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
The branched stems, from 1-3 ft. tall 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 Dolls 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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Flower:
White or red Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
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
, QC Native Distribution:
P.E.I. to s. Man., s. to FL, LA & KS Native Habitat: Deciduous
woods & thickets USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
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
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Record Modified: 2012-04-12
Research By: TWC Staff