Doll’s Eyes, White Baneberry
White baneberry is a popular novelty plant to grow, due to its striking visual interest. In addition to its clusters of tiny white flowers, the plant produces white berries that have nearly black (deep purple) “pupils” that give the berries the appearance of traditional china doll’s eyes. The berries are on attractive, deep pink stems.
Botanical Name: Actaea pachypoda
Nom Français: Actée à gros pédicelles

Features

Bloom colour: White
Blooms: Spring - Zone 5
Pollinators:
Sun or Shade: Partial Sun | Shade
Plant Type: Perennial
Height: Up to 2 feet (70 cm)
Eastern North America
It grows well in hardiness zones: 3 to 8

Before you set your heart on growing white baneberry, be aware that the plant is poisonous, including the leaves, stalk, and especially the berries. This is not a good choice of plant for gardens where children or animals may roam. Although this plant self-seeds, it is not known to spread aggressively or take over other plants.

Planting

Mixed woods, clearings
Water requirement: Regular watering needed, espcially during dry, hot days.
Moist, humus-rich, well-draining.
It is best to plant the seeds of white baneberry in the fall or in the spring after the risk of frost has passed. Start your seeds indoors in late winter. Keep soil moist until the seeds germinate, then transplant outside in early spring. The plant won't produce fruit until the second growing season.

Care

A thin layer of mulch is recommended in the fall to protect the roots before frost. Cut back after fruiting.
Up to 2 feet.
No common disease or pest problems.

Pruning

Spread: 60-90cm
White baneberry is easy to get rid of. To remove your plant, saturate the soil around it to make it easier to pull it out. Dig around the roots but don't break them as roots left in the soil can potentially grow a new plant. Dig in soil to remove remaining roots. Remember to wear gardening gloves. To ensure no plants sprout up, you can use cardboard or tarp over the area for one growing season and the site should be free of baneberry.

Considerations

This plant makes a pretty, low maintenance addition to your garden. Because the berries are toxic to most animals, the berries stay on the plants for a long time. Short-tongued bees, wasps, flies or beetles may collect the pollen, but the plant does not contain nectar.
Native to Canada
Toxic to humans and all animals except birds.

Styling and Use

White baneberry thrives in partial shade to shade, and is recommended for shade gardens.
Ferns, blue cohosh, geranium and hepatica.

Other

White Baneberry is a member of the Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae).

History

The name (pachypoda) is said to be from the Greek words "packy" (thick) and "poda" (feet) because of the thick flower and berry stalks. An older scientific name for the plant is Actaea alba. Despite the plant's toxic properties, it was used by some native Americans for medicinal purposes. Some used a decoction of root for colds and coughs, an infusion of the root for itching, or as a remedy for convulsions.

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