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Actaea spicata - L.

Common Name Herb Christopher, Baneberry
Family Ranunculaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards All parts of plant are poisonous but rarely fatal[4, 10, 13, 19, 65, 76].
Habitats Ash woods on limestone and in damp stony woods to 1500 metres[13, 17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, through temperate and arctic Asia to China.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Actaea spicata Herb Christopher, Baneberry


Actaea spicata Herb Christopher, Baneberry
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Actaea spicata is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Beetles, flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antidote;  Antispasmodic;  Cytostatic;  Nervine.

The root is antispasmodic, cytostatic, emetic, nervine and purgative[4, 17, 65, 240]. In Canada the root is used in the treatment of snakebite[211]. It is also considered useful in the treatment of nervous disorders and rheumatic fever[211]. In India it is used in the treatment of rheumatism, goitre and asthma[240]. This remedy should be used with some caution, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other Uses

Dye;  Repellent.

The smell of the plant is reputed to drive away vermin[4]. A black dye is obtained from the berries when alum is used as a mordant[4, 13, 74, 100]. The seeds contain tannin[240].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most conditions[233], but prefers a humus-rich moist soil in light shade doing well amongst shrubs and in light woods[1, 200]. A greedy plant, inhibiting the growth of nearby plants, especially legumes[54].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame or outdoors in a moist shaded seedbed[200]. The seed has a limited viability[200], it can also be sown in spring in a cold frame but germination rates may be poor. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer of the following year. Division in March or October.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Actaea pachypodaWhite Baneberry02
Actaea rubraRed Baneberry02
Cimicifuga racemosa (Actaea racemosa)Black Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, Bugbane14

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

17200

Links / References

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Subject : Actaea spicata  
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