White Baneberry fruit. About a week away from classic “doll’s eye” appearance. Found along a trail in clear view at Frances Slocum. Surprised no one has snapped them off yet. Now if they’ll just be good for seven or so days…
White baneberry is herbaceous plant that belongs to the buttercup family. It originates from the eastern parts of North America. White baneberry can be found in deciduous and mixed forests and dense thicket. It grows on the fertile, moist (but well-drained), acidic soil, in the partial shade. White baneberry is listed as endangered in Florida and vulnerable in New York due to over-exploitation of t…he wild plants. People cultivate white baneberry in ornamental purposes because of its decorative flowers and long-lasting berries.
White baneberry has erect, multi-branched stem that can reach 1.5 to 2 feet in height and 3 feet in width.
White baneberry produces large, thrice divided leaves (composed of three leaflets) with toothed edges. Leaves are green colored and alternately arranged on the stem.
White baneberry develops small white flowers arranged in the form of dense, globular clusters (raceme) at the end of the branches, above the leaves. Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (perfect flowers).
White baneberry blooms from April to June. Flowers emit rose-like fragrance which attracts small insects (such as European snout beetles) which are responsible for the pollination of this plant.
Fruit of white baneberry are white berries arranged on thick, red stalks. Fruit ripens during the summer and autumn and remains on the stem throughout the winter.
White baneberry propagates via seed and division of the root.
White baneberry is also known as “doll’s eyes” because of its white berries with prominent black spot that look like eyes of porcelain dolls.
All parts of white baneberry (especially berries and root) are poisonous (contain cardiogenic toxins) and they should be avoided.
Typical signs of intoxication are nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, blisters in the mouth, burning sensation, confusion and headache. 2 to 6 baneberries contain enough toxin to induce cardiac arrest in children if they accidently swallow them. Luckily, berries has unpleasant, bitter taste and they are rarely consumed on purpose.
Common name “white baneberry” refers to the color of the fruit and high content of cardiogenic toxins in the berries (bane-berries).
Even though white baneberries are toxic for humans, birds can consume these berries without any visible side effects. Birds eliminate undigested seed via feces and facilitate dispersal of white baneberry in the wild.