Actaea pachypoda

A white summer-flowering wildflower with fruits resembling eyes of a doll

Actaea pachypoda white baneberry

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This perennial native wildflower is a member of the buttercup family. It grows in woods in northeast United States south to Georgia in the mountains. It is documented in almost all Pennsylvania counties. The flowers are quite beautiful. They are white and occur in tight rounded or oblong clusters on an erect stem one to two feet tall. Each flower is ¼ inch long and has four to ten very narrow petals. As the flower blooms the petals tend to fall off but the stamens still produce a spectacular showy flower. There is only one pistil but many stamens.

The leaves of the plant are divided and subdivided into sharply toothed leaflets. The fruit is also distinctive. It takes the form of a cluster of white berries, each with a thick red stalk and a black center. These berries are often called 'doll's eyes', because they resemble the eyes used to make dolls. Each berry is white with a black dot and is held on the stalk in the same position as the original flower.

The flower blooms in May or June and the berries mature during the summer. All parts of the plant are poisonous. The berries, in particular, contain a toxin that is very dangerous and can cause cardiac arrest if ingested. The berries are harmless to birds.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Occurs in woodlands.

Present throughout the state.

Range: Northeast United States south to mountains of Georgia.

Wetland codes

Flowers May through August.

Flowers are a single round to cylindrical cluster, at the end of a long stem that rises above the leaves.  Each flower sits on a  light green/white stalk somewhat swollen on the ends.  Flowers have 4 to 10 narrow white petals and many long white stamens around a thick white style in the center.

Leaves are alternate, compound in groups of 3 or 5, leaflets are hairless and sharply or coarsely toothed.

Stems are hairless and green, with tint of purple at the nodes.

Fruit is a white berry about 1/3 inch long with black dot (stub of the style) at the tip, turning pink and then beet-color. The berry contains several seeds.

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Actaea pachypoda white baneberry

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Actaea pachypoda gallery
Plant Life-Form
perennial forb
Common Names
white baneberry doll's eyes