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

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

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.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Natural Shore Technologies - Using science to improve land and water
  • Minnesota Native Landscapes - Your Ecological Problem Solvers
  • Spangle Creek Labs - Native orchids, lab propagated
  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives

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. :)

Posted by: Brian - Golden Valley
on: 2018-06-24 18:20:12

I noticed this plant growing in the backyard a few years ago. But I have been noticing a variety of different plants showing up.

Posted by: Miles Johnston - Zumbro Falls, rural
on: 2018-07-11 17:39:26

We recently discovered this plant growing in a shady area under some pines on the edge of our property. It is covered in red berries now (mid July) We wished we could have seen it in bloom, but there is always next year!

Posted by: Erin Frank - Pine River
on: 2018-07-18 11:25:16

Up North in the woods too. I had a hallucinating 5 year old last Summer that must've grabbed on in a handful of wild raspberries, because they're tucked in now and then. It was pretty disconcerting, and we are MUCH more careful now while Berry picking with littles!

Posted by: Pat W - My backyard near Brainerd
on: 2019-03-06 14:37:29

I have been growing the "white form" of this species but am confused about its name. I refer to it as Actaea rubra var alba for lack of a better name. Since the seedlings come true, why isn't the white A. rubra its own species?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-03-06 16:49:46

Pat, as I understand it, white berried plants are referred to as forma neglecta. It's not so different from other species that normally have colored flowers but occasionally a white-flowered form pops up. In this case it's fruit color rather than flower color. It's a morphological difference that doesn't rank high enough to be a separate variety or subspecies.

Posted by: DeAnn Caddy - Northland Arboretum, Brainerd, MN
on: 2019-06-06 17:02:12

See today June 6, 2019 in bloom.

Posted by: Joseph Capecchi - Kanabec county, Knife lake
on: 2019-07-04 09:27:55

In the woods along the pathe to our dock

Posted by: Muriel Kloer - Lake of the Woods County
on: 2019-07-18 10:32:50

In the woods on our property

Posted by: Kathy & Doug Wood - Stearns county north of Sartell in our woods along the Missi
on: 2020-02-13 02:38:47

Love these beauties

Posted by: Brenda Miska - near Alexandria
on: 2020-07-11 10:38:32

This beautiful shrub showed up for the first time in my backyard this year. It is the red Baneberry with white fruit. Had to look here to find out what it is. Thanks

Posted by: Summer Streets - NASHWAUK
on: 2021-07-12 13:02:12

I have this plant growing on the edges of the woods on my property north of Nashwauk.

Posted by: Larry Bontreger - near Elba, and White Water State Park
on: 2021-08-09 13:00:08

growing on the north edge of heavy woods, very cool red berries.

Posted by: gary - Lake County
on: 2022-07-29 20:49:59

Both the red and white forms along the Superior Hiking Trail between Finland and Little Marais. A. pachypoda is not ripe yet.

Posted by: bryan - Maplewood
on: 2023-05-15 00:02:59

This is a common Northwoods Minn. plant in my experience. I introduced a specimen red baneberry into my peremnial garden just outside St. Paul many years ago. It has been well-behaved generally, but now I find that unless I sternly remove seedlings, they are beginning to take over in the vicinity. They mature surprisingly fast. This is a mini-shrub which dies back to the ground each year, but grows to nearly knee-height. The white flower puffs in spring and the red berries in fall are delightful against the tidy strong green foliage. Just be sure to control the dispersal of the berries!

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-05-15 07:20:33

Bryan, the same can be said for many other native species in cultivation. More often than not, plants tend to be opportunistic and can be prolific when their natural competition is not there. Natives are some of the worst weeds in my own gardens. :-)

Posted by: Rebecca Johnston - whitewater state park
on: 2023-07-02 21:44:23

Abundant in Whitewater state park, often growing alongside blue cohosh.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.