CROWFOOT FAMILY - Ranunculaceae: White Baneberry; Cohosh
Flowers--Small, white, in a terminal oblong raceme. Calyx of 3 to 5 petal-like, early-falling sepals; petals very small, 4 to 10, spatulate, clawed; stamens white, numerous, longer than petals; 1 pistil with a broad stigma. Stem: Erect, bushy, 1 to 2 ft. high. Leaves: Twice or thrice compounded of sharply toothed and pointed, sometimes lobed, leaflets, petioled. Fruit: Clusters of poisonous oval white berries with dark purple spot on end, formed from the pistils. Both pedicels and peduncles much thickened and often red after fruiting.
Preferred Habitat---Cool, shady, moist woods.
Distribution--Nova Scotia to Georgia and far West.
However insignificant the short fuzzy clusters of flowers lifted by this bushy little plant, we cannot fail to name it after it has set those curious white berries with a dark spot on the end, which Mrs. Starr Dana graphically compares to "the china eyes that small children occasionally manage to gouge from their dolls' heads." For generations they have been called "dolls' eyes" in Massachusetts. Especially after these poisonous berries fully ripen and the rigid stems which bear them thicken and redden, we cannot fail to notice them. As the sepals fall early, the white stamens and stigmas are the most conspicuous parts of the flowers.