South Dakota Native Plant Research
Ranunculaceae : Actaea rubra

Ranunculaceae : Actaea rubra


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Family Name


Common Name



Actaea rubra is a perennial herb 50-90 cm tall with a somewhat woody base. Stems usually unbranched, glabrous below and puberulent above. There are 1-3 alternate cauline leaves, pinnate to triternate-pinnate, the largest with a long petiole up to 16 cm long. The leaf blades are 15-35 cm long, the ultimate leaflets are broad and irregularly toothed. The inflorescence is a terminal raceme, 1-3 cm long in flower and up to 10 cm in fruit. The small flowers have 3-5 sepals, 2.4-3.7 mm long and 3-5 (10) white, spatulate petals, < 3.5 mm long, both rapidly lost after the flowers open. Baneberry has numerous stamens and a single pistil. The fruit are red or white 9-16 seeded berries, 7-13 mm in diameter. They bloom in May and June in moist soils in wooded areas along the western and easter borders of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Baneberry fruits are attractive, but highly toxic to humans and grazing animals. They provide food for many bird species including robins and grouse.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Berries mature in mid to late summer

Germination: Seeds planted in the early fall and kept moist until the ground freezes will germinate the following spring.

Soils: Organically rich well drained soils.

Light: Partial shade.

Water: Moist.

Ranunculaceae : Actaea rubra