Actaea rubra (Aiton) Willd. (Red Baneberry)

Red Baneberry is one of my favorite wildflowers in Gallup Park. The leaf structure even when berries are not present alway attract my attention when I am walking in the park. The compound leaves are a plant anatomy bonanza. Notice the three compound leaves pictured here. Each leaflet is lobed and deeply sawtooth. The leaf are oddly, twice pinnately compounded which means that the leaflets are on opposite sides of an extension (petiole) of the stem, called rachis, and there is odd leaflet at the end of the rachis. Wow!

Photo by Stewart Nelson, 2018, ©️ some rights reserved.

All parts of the Red baneberry and it less common cousin, White baneberry, is very toxic to humans. However, the berries are favorites for many smaller vertebrates, like squirrels and birds, including our Michigan state bird, the Red Robin.

Although Native Americans used a tea concoction for stomach problems and for women after pregnancy, they also used it as a poison for the tips of the arrows. This makes me wonder if it is best to just enjoy the simple beauty of baneberry.

The plant likes moist and shady areas so except for the toxicity, it would make a great addition to your yard around other taller plants as it only grows to about 1 to 3 feet tall. most of the plants I see in the park are only about 18″ tall.

Photo by Stewart Nelson, 2018, ©️ some rights reserved.

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