Ontario Wildflowers website

Red Baneberry
Actaea rubra

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra) French names: Actée rouge

Family: Buttercup Family (Ranunculaceae)

Group: Baneberries

Distinctive features: Bright shiny red berries with a tiny black dot at the end of each one. Compound leaf.

Similar species:
  •   White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) - Very similar, but has white berries. Leaves less dissected.

Flowers: Summer;  White;  Indistinguishable parts (petals);  Small, white. In a cluster that is as wide as it is tall. Spring.

Leaves: Compound, Toothed;  Alternate, compound, toothed. More dissected than White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda).

Height: 30-60 cm (11-23 in)

Fruit/Seeds: China-white berries with a conspicuous black dot at the end of each one.

Habitat: Forests;  Forests.

Grows in Sun/Shade: Shade

Lifespan: Perennial.  

Uses: The berries are poisonous. As few as 5 or 6 of them can make you seriously ill. More can cause death.

Poisonous: Berries are poisonous.

Books: Newcomb's Wildflower Guide: 424    Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowers: 54    ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario: 350   

Native/Non-native: Native

Status: Common.

Origin and Meaning of Names:
 Scientific Name: rubra: red

Photographs: 130 photographs available, of which 9 are featured on this page. SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOGRAPHS.

Range Map is at the bottom of the page
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Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Red Baneberry flowers are white.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

A closer view of the flowers. Note that each individual flower is on a rather thin stalk.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

The flower raceme is generally as wide as it is tall. White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) flower racemes are generally taller than they are wide.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

A nice healthy clump of berries.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Mature berries. Note the glossy bright red colour. The berries are poisonous.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Berries just starting to grow. Note the thin stalks.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Just to confuse identification of this plant, Red Baneberry berries are sometimes white!

The way to tell them apart from White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), is that Red Baneberry berries are on thin stalks and have a tiny dot at the end of each berry. White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) berries are held on thick stalks, and usually have a large conspicuous dot at the end of each berry.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

Red Baneberry leaf: compound, with toothed leaflets. The leaves of Red Baneberry and White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) are virtually identical.

Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

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Range map for Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra)

PLEASE NOTE: A coloured Province or State means this species occurs somewhere in that Province/State.
The entire Province/State is coloured, regardless of where in that Province/State it occurs.

(Range map provided courtesy of the USDA website and is displayed here in accordance with their Policies)