Actaea Misty Blue
Actaea pachypoda, commonly known as white baneberry, is a Missouri native perennial that typically grows to 30” tall and is primarily cultivated in woodland and shade gardens for its attractive white berries and astilbe-like foliage. It naturally occurs in deep woods, north-facing wooded slopes, bluff bases and ravines in the eastern part of Missouri (Steyermark). Ternately-compound leaves with toothed leaflets usually remain attractive through most of the growing season. Tiny white flowers appear in spring in short, oblong terminal clusters atop long greenish stems rising above the foliage. Flowering stems thicken after bloom and turn an attractive red as pea-sized white berries develop in summer in elongated clusters. The berries are extremely poisonous if eaten, hence the common name of baneberry. Each berry has a distinctive small dark purplish spot (formed by the flower stigma) which gives rise to another common name of doll’s eyes. Berry toxicity probably is the main reason why wildlife seems to ignore the fruit, with the berry clusters typically persisting on the plants and providing ornamental interest until frost.