Actaea rubra (Red Baneberry)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in a round cluster about 2 inches tall at the end of a long flower stem rising above the leaves. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch across, with 4 to 10 white spear-shaped petals and numerous white tipped stamens that are longer than the petals, on slender green stalks up to ½ inch long. The petals drop off shortly after the flower blooms. One plant has 1 to a few flower heads.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are twice compound with 3 or 5 leaflets in each group. Leaflets are up to 2 inches long and wide, with sharp coarse teeth, rounded at the base and pointed at the tip. Leaflets may be divided into 2 or 3 lobes and are usually somewhat hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] The fruit is a glossy red berry about 1/3 inch long on a slender green stalk. There is a small dark spot on the tip end of each berry, the remains of the style.

[photo of white fruit] The berries are occasionally white.


A species called White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) is nearly identical. The most distinguishing characteristic is the stalk on the individual flowers and fruit. Red Baneberry has slender green stalks, where White Baneberry has thick stalks. White Baneberry also tends to have larger leaves that are usually hairless, where Red Baneberry leaves are usually hairy to some degree.

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More photos

Photos taken at Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton, Ramsey County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: William J - Woodbury
on: 2009-08-05 21:40:18

Both the red- and white-seeded versions of Baneberry can be seen in Ojibway Park behind Woodbury High School, Woodbury, MN. In the latter part of July and early August, watch for the red and white clumps of berries in thick, deeply shaded woods.

Posted by: Tom - Cook County, near Grand Marais
on: 2010-06-07 09:10:52

Both the Red and the White Baneberry occur in Cook County. From my experience, the White Baneberry is more common here. We have one beginning to bloom now in our yard, in the middle of a patch of wild blueberries. The plant is blooming before the leaves are completely unfolded. (The leaves are still crinkly.) People call the plant "Doll's Eyes," for obvious reasons.

It doesn't surprise me that we're 3 weeks behind your Twin Cities bloom time chart, even though we've had an uncommonly warm spring.

Posted by: Laurie - Deer River
on: 2013-08-31 21:41:50

I have a number of red baneberry plants growing in unmowed, vegetative, shady areas around the perimeters of my barnyard. Some are growing under trees with wild raspberries and burdock; others are growing under trees with blue cohosh, Canada mayflower, and sugar maple seedlings.

Posted by: Cyrus - Marcell/Itasca County
on: 2015-07-12 22:43:31

Found Red Baneberry growing along a fencerow, beside a large patch of red raspberries. Several clumbs of bright red berries. Mid-July.

Posted by: Lucy - Burnsville
on: 2015-08-13 14:02:07

I have this plant in the wooded shaded perimeter of my back and front yard.

Posted by: Patricia - Minneapolis,MN, Prospect Park neighborhood
on: 2016-05-14 14:24:26

found in shady wooded area in my backyard.

Posted by: Jane - central St. Louis County
on: 2016-05-23 19:40:49

growing in a wooded area near my house

Posted by: Bruce - Bridgewater Twp, Rice County, just south of Northfield
on: 2017-07-01 16:20:43

Growing in shady bermside under trees. Seems to be red baneberry, based on leaves and berries.

Posted by: Kristine - Sibley State Park
on: 2017-07-08 00:19:22

I found several red baneberry plants today growing alongside a trail leading from the campground up to Mount Tom.

Posted by: Craig L - Chatham Two, Wright County
on: 2017-07-14 23:30:40

Found a red baneberry plant growing in a growth of pine trees. Beautiful red berries against the dark green leaves.

Posted by: Annie H. - Hibbing St. Louis County
on: 2017-08-15 20:36:35

Growing in shade along the forest edge of my yard. I am of the mind that everything has a purpose, and this is such an attractive plant. Very red against dark green. However, it is said to be poisonous. Anyone know of some uses for it. I have searched online and found a few comments. :)

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