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.
Native to eastern North America. Creeping stems send up erect branches to 6 in. high, with oval, 2-in....
From Europe. Leaves have no obvious stems. Elegant plant to 1 ft. tall and 1 1/2 ft. wide, blooming Ch...
Native to Siberia and Japan. Foliage clump to 2 ft. tall and wide, with 3–4-ft. flower stalks in...