Red Baneberry is a lovely woodland native with fine-textured foliage and a light and airy texture. Its lacy leaves resemble those of Astilbe and its similar needs make it a great native substitute. In late spring and early summer lightly scented, delicate white flowers appear above the foliage. Flowers give way to clusters of bright red berries in late summer that are attractive to mammals and many songbirds. Planted in groups, it is a lovely groundcover and it combines well with other woodland natives such as wild ginger and wood ferns.
Woodland plant with delicate texture
White flowers in late spring
Attractive red berries in late summer
Easy to grow and long-lived
Provides food for birds and mammals
Actaea rubra is found throughout the northern US in moist shady areas, often in deciduous forests but also in mixed coniferous forests, open pine or spruce woodlands, swales, stream banks and swamps.
Birds that are attracted to Actaea fruit include Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, American Robin, Gray Cheeked Thrush, Brown Thrasher, Gray Catbird, and Grouse.
All parts of Actaea rubra are poisonous, but the taste of the berries and leaves is extremely bitter so a toxic dose is unlikely.
Grow Actaea rubra in part or full shade and moist, rich soils. It will be happy in the shade of conifers or deciduous trees, but will have more flowers if morning or afternoon sun is available. Baneberry benefits from allowing leaf litter to remain at the base or mulching with composted leaves. A late fall cut back is not necessary for the plant, but will tidy up the garden for winter.