Dolls’ Eyes in the Spring

Dolls eyes blooming (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Last weekend at Slippery Rock Gorge I found spikes of white flowers surrounded by compound leaves.

At first I thought it was Black Snakeroot (Actaea racemosa) but my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide reminded me that snakeroot doesn’t bloom until the summer.

On closer inspection I realized it was White Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), also called Dolls’ Eyes because of its unusual berries.

Here’s what they look like in the fall.

Dolls' eyes fruit of White Baneberry (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Don’t be fooled into eating the berries.  The entire plant is poisonous to humans but amazingly has no effect on birds.  Birds eat the fruit, perhaps attracted by the beautiful red stems and white berries with purple dots.

I’ll have to take the same hike this fall and look for berries.

(photos from Wikimedia Commons.  Click on the images to see the originals)

2 thoughts on “Dolls’ Eyes in the Spring

  1. Kate,
    What a coincidence! I just got back from Meadowood Native Plant Nursery (Tom Johnson’s parents own it) and my purchase list included highbush blueberry, cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, purple flower raspberry, anise hyssop, beautyberry, and WHITE BANEBERRY! 🙂

    Art (Schiavo)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *