Red Baneberry
Actaea rubra
Family Ranunculaceae

* Leaves compound, with 5-12 many-toothed, egg-shaped leaflets.
* Flowers white, on slender stalks.
* Fruits red berries with black eyes.
* Height: 1-3'.

Natural History:
* Flowers May - June.
* Habitat: Hardwood forests at lower elevations.
* Range: Northeastern United States.
* Native.

* 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."


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008