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Plant Profile: White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda)

Acteae pachypoda    white-baneberryThis herbaceous perennial is native to eastern North America where it thrives in the rich, moist soil of deciduous woodlands. It is especially valued for its attractive foliage and berries. The dark green leaves are twelve to sixteen inches long, ternately compound and resemble those of astilbe. In spring fragrant, fringed, white flowers appear on two to four inch long terminal racemes with green stems that slowly thicken and turn pinkish red as the berries develop during the summer. The berries are white and have a black stigma scar giving rise to another common name, ‘doll’s eyes”. They persist into winter and are eaten by some birds but not mammals. White baneberry is a good choice for a shade garden or native garden. All parts of the plant are poisonous so white baneberry should not be grown where children or pets are likely to play.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAType: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Terminal racemes of small white flowers in spring

Size: 2-4’ H x 3’ W

Light: Part to full shade

Soil: Fertile, humusy, moist, well-drained

Hardiness: Zones 3-7

Care: Low maintenance; keep soil moist in summer

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, root division in spring

Companion plants: Ferns, sedges, wild ginger (Asarum canadense), alumroot (Heuchera villosa), fawn’s breath (porteranthus trifoliatus), Anemone canadensis, Lobelia cardinalis.

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