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Actaea rubra

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© RHS 2002

Characteristics

Plant type

Bog or Herbaceous Perennial

Habit

Clump-forming

Toxicity

Toxic if ingested; contact may cause skin irritation

Resilience

Hardiness

old H4 (hardy)

Colour

Flower

White in Spring and Summer

Foliage

Green in Spring and Summer

Fruit

Red in Autumn

Size

Ultimate height

0.1-0.5 metres

Ultimate spread

0.1-0.5 metres

Time to ultimate height

2-5 years


Preferred common name

red baneberry

Family

Ranunculaceae


Actaea are rhizomatous herbaceous perennials with compound leaves and small creamy-white flowers in short, erect, simple or branched terminal racemes, followed either by poisonous red, black or white berries, or by star-shaped clustered brown follicles

A. rubra is a clump-forming herbaceous perennial to 50cm, with bright green, divided leaves and spikes of small, fluffy white flowers in late spring and early summer, followed by glossy scarlet berries

Other common names

  • black cohosh
  • coralberry
  • rattlesnake herb
  • redberry
  • snakeberry

Synonym(s)

  • Actaea arguta
  • Actaea erythrocarpa
  • Actaea rubra subsp. arguta
  • Actaea spicata 'Erythrocarpa'
  • Actaea spicata subsp. erythrocarpa
  • Actaea spicata var. erythrocarpa
  • Actaea spicata var. rubra

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Part shade

Aspect

  • East-facing, West-facing or North-facing
  • Sheltered

Cultivation

Best grown in cool, moist, reasonably fertile soil in partial shade but will tolerate most soils if enriched with organic matter

Soil

  • Moist but well-drained or Poorly-drained
  • Acid or Neutral
  • Loam or Clay

Propagation

Propagate by seed sown in pots in a cold frame in autumn or by division in early spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Flower borders and beds, Wildflower meadow or Cottage/Informal Garden


How to care

Pruning

Cut back after flowering or fruiting

Pests

Generally pest free

Diseases

Generally disease free