Common Names

Other names given to the white baneberry are coral and pearls, white beads, necklace-weed, white berry.

Description

The white baneberry is a perennial herb with large, wide-spreading, compound leaves. The very small white flowers are arranged in an oblong cluster at the end of the stalk. The flower cluster elongates as the fruit forms, sometimes reaching a length of three to four inches. The berries are about half an inch long and nearly as wide, bright white with a black spot at the end. The berry stalks are about as long as the berry and become thickened with maturity, turning a rich red. slightly swollen at each end like broken bits of the common red coral. At this stage they are very attractive and tempting, especially to children. The plant is in bloom in April and May, a week or two later than the red baneberry.

Distribution

This species of Actaea is a native of Canada, and is found in rich woods in the eastern provinces, tending to spread westward.

Poisonous Properties

The white baneberry is a variety of the European species, A. spicata L. of which Hill says in his Herbal (p. 320) that children who have eaten the fruit have died in convulsions.

Symptoms

The European baneberry, A. spicata L. is classified in the group of plants containing poisons which act upon the heart, of which group A. B. Smith gives the following symptoms: numbness and tingling in the mouth, abdominal pain, vertigo, purging, tremor, occasional delirium, paralysis, dyspnoea, ending in syncope.

Remedy: Warn children against eating unknown fruits in the woods. Should poisoning occur, the usual emetic may be given and the advice of a doctor obtained as soon as possible.