Actaea rubra (Aiton) Willd.
Red baneberry, red cohosh, snakeberry, cohosh
Red baneberry is called baneberry because of its poisonous nature. It is a North American native.
Plants: Red baneberry is 12-36" (30-91 cm) high.
Leaves: On all of the baneberries, leaves often occur in groups of three, on thin stems, and are saw-toothed. Individual leaves are somewhat divided into three sections.
Flowers: Flowerheads are roughly spherical (racemes) of small white flowers ¼" (6.3 mm) across, with a roselike odor. Flowerheads appear soft and feathery.
Fruits: Berries are oval when green, becoming rounder and bright or dark red when ripe.
Edibility: All parts of this plant are poisonous. Causes burning of the mouth and throat, salivation, stomach cramps, headache, diarrhea, dizziness, and hallucinations. Berries have caused fatalities in children.
Some variants are compared below:
Actaea pachypoda f. rubrocarpa
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|Flowers||Flowerheads of small white flowers are roughly oval in shape. Each flower is ¼" (6.3 mm) across.||Flowerheads of small white flowers are roughly oval in shape. Each flower is ¼" (6.3 mm) across.||Feathery flowerheads of small white flowers are roughly oval in shape. Each flower is ¼" (6.3 mm) across. Flowers have a roselike fragrance.|
|Fruit||White berries supported by red pedicels that are ⅛" (3 mm) or more in thickness. Berry tips have black-purple spot.||Red berries supported by pedicels that are ⅛" (3 mm) or more in thickness. Instead of the tomato red of red baneberry, these berries have a more luminous deep magenta color, becoming more purplish with time.||Bright or dark red, oval berries are supported by pedicels that are less than ⅛" (3 mm) thick.|
USDA Zones: 3-8
Actaea rubra on
Actaea rubra on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods
Actaea rubra at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Actaea rubra on Wikipedia
Actaea rubra at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium
Actaea rubra on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Actaea rubra on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness
Actaea rubra on CalPhotos
Actaea rubra on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Actaea rubra on eFloras
Actaea rubra description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Sep 2020.