Actaea pachypoda (White Baneberry)

Plant Info
Also known as: Doll's-eyes
Family:Ranunculaceae (Buttercup)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich woods
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:18 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers]  A single round to cylindrical cluster about 1½ inches in diameter and 1½ to 3 inches long at the end of a long stem that rises above the leaves. Flowers are ¼ to ½ inch across with 4 to 10 narrow white petals and a spray of many long white stamens surrounding a short, thick white style in the center. Each flower is on a stout light green to white stalk 1/3 to ½ inch long, slightly swollen on the ends.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 2 or 3 times compound, in groups of 3 or sometimes 5. Leaflets are up to 4 inches long, to 2 inches wide, stalked on the lower stem and typically stalkless near the flowers, usually hairless, edges sharply and coarsely toothed, sometimes cleft or lobed.

[photo of stem node] Stems are hairless, green, purplish at the nodes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a white berry about 1/3 inch long with the black stub of the style at the tip, and containing several seeds. The berries are rarely red. As fruit develops the cluster lengthens and flower stalks thicken more, turning pinkish, eventually turning bright red.


White Baneberry is not a rare species in Minnesota but not common, either, found primarily in rich woods along the eastern border of the state from the Arrowhead to the southeast corner of Houston County. It very closely resembles Actaea rubra (Red Baneberry) and can be hard to distinguish when not in fruit. Though both species may have red or white berries, Red Baneberry has slender green stalks on the flowers and fruit where White Baneberry has thick stalks, whitish on flowers turning red on the fruit. Red Baneberry also usually has hairy leaves where White Baneberry is usually hairless. White Baneberry was formerly known as Actaea alba.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at Interstate State Park, Chisago County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Sonya - Duluth
on: 2012-08-27 08:49:42

the stem of this plant was a very pretty pink color and the balls on the end where white it almost looked soo unreal.

Posted by: Nataliya - Lutsen
on: 2013-04-28 13:29:45

In September 2009 in Lutsen,I saw the plant in fruit that was looking pretty similar, and I couldn't find what is the name of this plant is. Looks like, it was Baneberry. I have a very nice picture of it. Thank you.

Posted by: Andi - Lino Lakes
on: 2014-07-05 16:35:17

My husband happened to be trimming along our wooded, marshy area and came across it. Neither of us had seen it before so I did a search to identify it. Maybe all the rain we've had is the reason I'm seeing this for the first time in my own yard??

Posted by: Zirbel - savage MN
on: 2014-07-09 18:24:22

Found it checking for poison ivy in a shady tree cluster near some woods in my back yard. A group of the plants. Berries are unique.

Posted by: KIm - Chisago County
on: 2014-07-17 12:55:52

We have a bunch of these plants coming up around our deck on the north side of the house. I prefer native plants, so am very happy to see them appear.

Posted by: Brett1 - Lost 40 SNA
on: 2015-07-13 17:17:57

Saw both the red and white plants in fruit this weekend.

Posted by: Kathy - Along the trail to Carlton Peak
on: 2015-08-20 22:08:03

We hiked the Carlton Peak trail starting at the Britton Peak trailhead parking lot on Cty Rd 2 near Tofte, MN on August 15, 2015. I saw the plant with the white pods along side the trail. I took a photo of the plant as I had never seen one before.

Posted by: Tiffany - Farmington, MN
on: 2016-07-17 21:29:38

Found along the edge of paved path going through an area of dense, mostly boxelder, woodland. Berries are so bright and beautiful.

Posted by: Bridget - Rosholt, SD
on: 2017-01-29 01:10:58

I could not find this plant identified in any SD sites, and noticed it's range doesn't include western MN. Thus I thought it might be helpful to someone.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-01-29 09:36:12

It is very unlikely there are any natural populations of white baneberry in western MN or anywhere in SD, but you will find red baneberry (A. rubra) in both.

Posted by: Naomi J - Minneapolis
on: 2017-05-25 15:16:25

We have a nice stand of white baneberry near the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, and had red baneberry at our old South Minneapolis location. However, all the info I've found says the berries are poisonous, so be careful if you have small kids around.

Posted by: Nikki P - Oak Point, St. Croix River, St. Croix State Park, Minnesota
on: 2017-07-22 16:34:42

Found in a shady spot, on the edge of a trail at the Oak Point canoe landing, on the Minnesota side of the St. Croix River. I was able to identify it by the berries. This was in July 2017.

Posted by: Laurie - Savanna Portage State Park
on: 2017-07-24 18:12:07

Found a plant with the white berries near our campsite which set me trying to find out what they were. Looks like baneberry.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-07-24 18:23:58

Laurie, if you look at the distribution map you'll notice that white baneberry is pretty much restricted to the eastern border of the state. What you more likely saw was red baneberry (Actaea rubra) with white fruit.

Posted by: Keith - South Cass County
on: 2017-07-27 06:50:16

Just found white baneberry in southern Cass County.

Posted by: c Shabaiash - Chippewa national forest
on: 2017-08-08 15:21:15

This plant is growing in my front yard under a mature stand of deciduous trees.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-08-09 17:00:41

To all who think they found white baneberry because it has white berries, please look at the stalks on the fruits. If the stalks are reddish and stout (refer to the fruit photo above), it is indeed white baneberry. If the stalks are green and slender, it is red baneberry (Actaea rubra) with white fruit.

Posted by: Amy Day - Farmington
on: 2017-08-22 20:40:22

Found white berries/red stems around the walking trail in the south east corner of Farmington

Posted by: Dagmar C - Roseville
on: 2017-10-11 13:59:01

I saw the bright white berries on red stalks in a wildflower garden in Roseville. Quite lovely!

Posted by: Steven Nord - Emily MN Crow Wing County
on: 2019-08-16 13:53:03

I have Red and White Baneberry growing next to my cabin

Posted by: Corinne Hultman - Grand Rapids
on: 2019-08-20 08:26:54

Spotted one plant in full white berries with the luscious deep green leaves along a roadside in amongst a lot of other plant growth.

Posted by: Kathy & Doug Wood - Stearns county north of Sartell in our woods along the Zmiss
on: 2020-02-13 02:37:03

We have a few of these, as well as the red.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-02-13 10:42:08

Kathy & Doug, per the distribution map, white baneberry isn't known to be in Stearns County, so more likely you have the form of red baneberry that has white berries.

Posted by: Barbara Bujold-Martinez - Arrowhead, Superior Hiking Trail north of Tofte
on: 2020-05-08 21:01:19

I took photos of the bright red stems that stood out brightly amidst the otherwise green environment. I couldn't believe that anything in nature could look that artificially bright red! Thanks to your website, I now know what it is called.

Posted by: M. Koenig - Eagan
on: 2020-05-20 07:21:55

After clearing buckthorn in my backyard, Actaea pachypoda was found growing on the woods edge. Such a delight to discover!

Posted by: Pat W - Pillager area
on: 2021-04-04 16:45:35

I have both the red baneberry(Actaea rubra) and the same in the white form which I have never been able to find a name for. So, I refer to mine as Actaea rubra var alba. The white form looks a lot like the White Dolls Eyes, and is very decorative. The seeds come true also as I propagate them here.

Posted by: Elizabeth R. Tiller - Red Lake, Big Bog SRA, young deciduous woods
on: 2021-06-23 08:20:05

We just found this plant in the woods of Big Bog SRA near Red Lake (June 12, 2021). Took pictures of it setting fruit. This would extend its range.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-06-23 18:17:40

Elizabeth, Red Lake would make it a disjunct population. Please confirm the ID, preferably by posting photos on the Minnesota Wildflowers facebook page.

Posted by: Mickie Bosch - East otter tail county
on: 2021-07-31 11:04:26

Found this growing at my cabin in east otter tail county MN

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-07-31 17:05:55

Mickie, if you look at the distribution map you'll notice that white baneberry is pretty much restricted to the eastern border of the state. What you more likely have is red baneberry (Actaea rubra) with white fruit.

Posted by: Brett W - Scandia
on: 2021-08-29 16:04:13

Surprised to find it here but I see how it skirts the eastern side of the state and the enviroment is pretty similar to up north. Only one plant however.

Posted by: Brian - Houston County
on: 2021-10-25 08:32:59

I saw one plant of this in a forest on the western side of MN 26 on October 24, 2021. Reno Management Unit, Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest

Posted by: Maureen J Cooney - Twin Bluffs Dr, Winona County, Mn
on: 2023-08-04 13:13:19

I discovered in my shade, base of Kings Bluff, garden five Dolls Eyes plants. One is considerably taller, older? The other four are close, and all the same size. This location is where I often have Robin nest and I hang my winter bird seed and suet feeders. FYI my property is at the base of the northern most river bluff in Great River Bluffs State Park.

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