Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spring Flowers: Dolls' Eyes or White Baneberry

Actaea pachypoda (Dolls' Eyes, White Baneberry, White Cohosh) is a tall plant with pretty, white flowers.  It reaches 1-2 feet in height, has sharply toothed, compound leaves, and produces white berries with a black dot in them (thus, one of its common names).  A member of the Buttercup Family, it is found throughout the eastern United States and Canada. 

The entire plant is poisonous, but the berries are most poisonous.  Consumption can lead to cardiac arrest.  Like many plants that are poisonous to consume, A. pachypoda was once used medicinally (just like many modern medicines are toxic if used incorrectly).  Native Americans used extracts from the plants to aid in childbirth, according to The Secrets of Wildflowers (Sanders 2003).  The toxins do not affect birds, however, which consume the berries and disperse the seeds. 

A. pachypoda on the Lower Hawksbill Trail in Shenandoah National Park.

1 comment:

  1. Hey EL,

    I searched for you on FB for the ORMS friend request to no avail. Can you friend me some other way so I can get access? Or perhaps send me a link to my Horizontal Tread emaill connection?