Actaea pachypoda

white baneberry

doll's eye

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Synonyms: Actaea alba

Outstanding Qualities

Actaea pachypoda is an easy to grow woodland perennial. Planted for the dramatic cluster of white berries that develop in mid summer, each berry is dotted with a black spot giving it the common name of doll’s eyes. The bright white berries are held up on a brilliant red stalks high above the foliage. The overall effect is unusual and eye-catching—especially in the shady woodland. The berries are poisonous, however, and should not be planted where the fruit might tempt children.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: upright perennial

Foliage Type: deciduous

Plant Height: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 1 ft. 6 in. (0.46 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 4 to 9

Flower Color: white

Sun/Light Exposure: open to dappled shade

Water Requirements: regular watering

Seasonal Interest: spring flowers, summer berries persist until frost

Wildlife Associations: bees, butterflies

Colors & Combos

Great Plant Combinations: Buxus sempervirens ‘Aureovariegata’, Athyrium ‘Ghost’, Polystichum setiferum Plumosomultilobum Group, Aster divaricatus, Acer palmatum ‘Red Dragon’ Dissectum Group

Great Color Contrasts: lavender, violet, black

Great Color Partners: red, white, green

Culture Notes
Plant this robust perennial in open to dappled shade with well-drained soil and regular watering during dry weather. It is tolerant of sandy soils and clay conditions. There are no notable pest or disease problems, and it is resistant to slugs. Cut to the ground in fall once the foliage has started to yellow.
Geek Notes
Native to the eastern United States & Canada. Pachypoda means "thick foot" referring to the stem that carries the berry/fruits.