Common Names

The red baneberry is also known as the poison-berry, snake-berry, toadroot, herb-christopher.

Description

Like the white baneberry, this plant is a perennial with large, wide-spreading compound leaves, but the leaflets are thicker and more coarsely toothed. The cluster of small white flowers is nearly as wide as it is high. The flower stalks are slender and do not become thickened in fruit. The berries are about half an inch long, widest in the centre, brilliantly cherry-coloured, becoming slightly darker. There is a white-berried form (Forma neglecta, A. neglecta Gillman) (plate xvi.), common at Rockliffe, Ottawa, and not rare in other places, which at first glance might be taken for A. alba, but its long slender green pedicels, unenlarged in maturity, point to a nearer relationship to A. rubra. It is found growing in clumps with the red baneberry. Another form of the red baneberry is found in Lincoln county, Ontario, with decompound leaves and incised leaflets, (Var. dissecta Britton). The plant is in bloom from April to May, about two weeks before the white baneberry.

Plate XVI.

Red Baneberry.

Photo - F. Fyles.

Red Baneberry.

Distribution

This native plant is common in rich woods from Nova Scotia to Alberta.

Poisonous Properties

The berries are known to be poisonous. In regard to the rootstock, Sayre says that it is a violent purgative irritant and emetic.

The Western Red Baneberry (A. Arguta Nutt.)

This plant is similar to the eastern species, but it has very thin and light green leaflets, long pointed and very sharply toothed. Its berries are spherical or almost so, and no doubt possess some of the undesirable qualities of the above species.

The Western Red Baneberry A Arguta Nutt 26