Friday, November 20, 2009

Native Plant of the Month: Doll’s Eyes

doll's eyes - a native plant on 2 green acres - a maryland garden blog
For my native plant this month, I am picking an odd one. I first saw this plant on a hike in the Adirondacks this past September. I had no idea what it was, but was mesmerized by its white berries on magenta stems.

I came home, did some research and found out that this plant, commonly known as “doll’s eyes” is a member of the buttercup family. The latin name is Actaea pachypoda. In late spring or early summer, it has interesting white flowers – like something that the Star Trek crew would find on a distant planet. But it is the berries that make you do a double take. At their height in early fall, they truly do look like little doll’s eyes, strung together by a mad scientist. Their bright white color really jumps out in a shaded woodland setting.

This is a great specimen for people who love to collect odd plants. It is also a great plant for a woodland garden – nice spring flowers, interesting foliage, and those great berries in the fall. The plants grow about two feet tall and wide. They will self-seed, but are not aggressive. Oh, and deer don’t like these plants!

One note of caution: Don’t be too tempted by the berries. To me, they don’t look appetizing at all – and they aren’t. The whole plant (particularly the berries) are poisonous to humans (and deer) if ingested. It is fine to handle the plant, but don’t try to eat any of it.

You might also like:

October native plant of the month: Sugar Maple
September native plant of the month: Blueberry
August native plant of the month: Joe Pye Weed


  1. This is White Baneberry.

    1. White Baneberry is also known as Doll's Eyes.