Red Baneberry

3.  Red Baneberry, Actaea rubra, Chinaberry, Doll’s Eye

Baneberry (fall)

baneberry (fall) with berries

Baneberry (fall) with high bush cranberry leaf underneath for comparison

Baneberry (fall) on the right of picture compared to high bush cranberries on the left of picture


all parts of this plant are poisonous.  Do Not EAT.  Can be easily confused with HIGHBUSH CRANBERRY (which is tasty and succulent)

Description:  Beware of Baneberries! Baneberries, similar in looks to highbush cranberries, can be found interspersed in a patch of waist-high, highbush cranberry foliage. But baneberries have some subtle but noticeable differences from the highbush cranberries. (1)The baneberry’s seed is different from the highbush cranberry. It has a little, black crescent-shaped seed inside and a tiny, poppyseed-like black spot on the outside.  (2)berries are extremely bitter.  The berries are the most toxic part of the plant. A healthy adult will experience poisoning from as few as six berries. Ingestion of the berries causes nausea, dizziness, increased pulse and severe gastrointestinal discomfort. The toxins can also have an immediate sedative effect on the cardiac muscle tissue possibly leading to cardiac arrest if introduced into the bloodstream. As few as two berries may be fatal to a child.

One Response to Red Baneberry

  1. Christian says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I have been niitcong the high bush cranberries for a while and have been meaning to use them for jelly or jam. Now I also know where the stinky socks smell comes from every Fall. I definitely notice the smell being in Maine and coming from NY (where I never smelled that smell). It will not stop me from trying your recipes! I look forward to your posts in the future now that I found you.

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