This species is closely related to Actaea rubra[
Actaea alba auct.
Actaea brachypetala coerulea DC.
Actaea brachypetala microcarpa DC.
Common Name: White Baneberry
Flowering plant, growing at Neuer Botanischer Garten Marburg. The plant label for Smilacina stellata refers to the numerous lily-like stems that can just about be seen in front of the Actaea.
Photograph by: Willow
Creative Commons Attribution 2.5
Actaea pachypoda is a herbaceous perennial plant producing a cluster of leafy growth from thick, dark rhizomes. It can grow around 75cm tall[
The plant has a history of medicinal use, though it is little used at present because of its toxicity.
All parts of the plant are toxic, causing severe gastrointestinal inflammation and skin blisters[
Berries are extremely poisonous if ingested, and consideration should be given to avoid planting this species in areas frequented by young children[
Eastern N. America - southeastern Canada to Georgia, west to Oklahoma and Minnesota.
Deciduous forests, less often with pines, junipers, or other conifers at elevations up to 500 metres[
]. Deep woods, north-facing wooded slopes, bluff bases and ravines[
Prefers a moist, organically rich, humusy, well-drained soil in part shade to full shade, though it is a tough plant that tolerates most conditions[
Grows best in the wild or woodland garden[
Self-seeding may occur in optimum growing conditions where the berries fall to the ground. If naturalization is desired, the berries may be picked as soon as they ripen and then immediately planted into the ground in order to promote colonial spread[
Use this plant with caution - see the notes above on toxicity[
The whole plant, but especially the root, is anticonvulsive, antirheumatic, emmenagogue, mildly hypnotic, oxytocic and stimulant[
]. A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, rheumatism and syphilis[
]. It is also used in small doses to ease the pain of childbirth[
] and is used as a stimulant to revive and rally patients at the point of death[
An infusion of the roots has been used externally to treat itchy skin and as a gargle for sore throats[
An infusion of leaves was drunk by the women of some Indian tribes in order to stimulate the flow of milk[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame or in a sheltered outdoor bed[
]. Completely remove the seed pulp since this can inhibit germination. Stored seed does not usually germinate well[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer of the following year.
Division in spring.