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Zone
Zones 1-7, 17, 32-45
Partial Sun
Partial
Regular Water
Moderate
Toxicity
Berries of some types are poisonous.

Actaea

Ranunculaceae
Perennials

Botanists recently combined this genus with Cimicifuga, and in doing so, they lumped together plants of markedly different sizes and garden uses. The baneberries (Actaea) are small (under 2 1/2 ft. tall), with short clusters of flowers that turn into attractive but poisonous berries. The bugbanes (Cimicifuga) are considerably taller (up to 7 ft. in bloom), with long, spikelike flower clusters that ripen into dry seed capsules. Baneberries associate with smaller woodland plants, while bugbanes are stately back-of-the-border plants, looking most at home with a forest background. Both have shiny, much-divided leaves that give an overall airy effect. They grow best in rich, moist, well-drained soil and at least partial shade (can take more sun in cool-summer zones, provided they don’t dry out).

Actaea simplex

Native to Siberia and Japan. Foliage clump to 2 ft. tall and wide, with 3–4-ft. flower stalks in fall. ‘Atropurpurea’ has purplish leaves and pink-tinted flower buds on 5-ft. stems. ‘Brunette’ and ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ have even darker foliage and pinkish flowers.

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