* Leaves compound, with 5-12 many-toothed, egg-shaped leaflets.
* Flowers white, on slender stalks.
* Fruits red berries with black eyes.
* Height: 1-3'.
* Flowers May - June.
* Habitat: Hardwood forests at lower elevations.
* Range: Northeastern United States.
* Baneberries are considered mildly poisonous and have a disagreeable
taste. In 1785, botanist Manasseh Cutler called it "powerfully repellant...the
root is useful in some nervous cases, but it must be administered with
caution. It is said, that toads, allured by the foetid smell of this
plant, resort to it."
* The red baneberry is steeped in Native American tradition.
According to historian Jeffrey Hart, the Cheyenne prophet and
hero, Sweet Medicine or Sweet Root Standing, lived with the Cheyenne
for 445 years, and upon his death transferred his powers to the
baneberry. "To this day, Cheyennes keep this root in the Sacred
Arrow, Sacred Hat, and the Sun Dance bundles, thus benefiting
from Sweet Medicine's sacred powers."