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Archive for August 22, 2011

White Baneberry

White baneberry (Actaea alba) is most conspicuous in late summer, when its white berries tipped with a black dot are evident.  It is not hard to see why it is also called Doll’s Eyes – the berries are said to resemble the ceramic eyes of old-fashioned china dolls. The entire plant is poisonous – just  a few berries can cause dizziness and nausea in humans.  However, they are eaten by ruffed grouse, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and American robins.  White-footed mice and southern red-backed voles also dine on them.  The leaves and flowers of its relative, red baneberry (Actaea rubra), closely resemble white baneberry, but in the fall it’s easy to tell them apart  by the color of their berries (see 7/10/11 blog post) , as reflected in their common names.