Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
Vascular Plants of California
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Actaea rubra

Higher Taxonomy
Family: RanunculaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual, perennial herb, woody vine [shrub], occasionally aquatic. Leaf: generally basal and cauline, alternate or opposite, simple or compound; petioles at base generally flat, occasionally sheathing or stipule-like. Inflorescence: cyme, raceme, panicle, or flowers 1. Flower: generally bisexual, generally radial; sepals 3--6(20), free, early-deciduous or withering in fruit, generally green; petals 0--many, generally free; stamens generally 5--many, staminodes generally 0; pistils 1--many, ovary superior, chamber 1, style 0--1, generally +- persistent as beak, ovules 1--many. Fruit: achene, follicle, berry, +- utricle in Trautvetteria, in aggregate or not, 1--many-seeded.
Genera In Family: +- 60 genera, 1700 species: worldwide, especially northern temperate, tropical mountains; many ornamental (Adonis, Aquilegia, Clematis, Consolida, Delphinium, Helleborus, Nigella). Toxicity: some highly TOXIC (Aconitum, Actaea, Delphinium, Ranunculus). Note: Taxa of Isopyrum in TJM (1993) moved to Enemion; Kumlienia moved to Ranunculus.
eFlora Treatment Author: Margriet Wetherwax & Dieter H. Wilken, family description, key to genera
Scientific Editor: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: ActaeaView Description 

Common Name: BANEBERRY
Habit: Perennial herb from stout, branched caudex. Stem: 1--few, ascending to erect, branched or not. Leaf: 1--4, generally 1--3-ternate or -pinnate. Inflorescence: raceme, axillary or terminal. Flower: sepals 3--5, petal-like, early-deciduous; petals 4--10, spoon-shaped to obovate, clawed; pistil 1, placentas 2, ovules several. Fruit: berry.
Species In Genus: +- 8 species: temperate North America, Eurasia. Etymology: (Greek: ancient name, from wet habitat, similarity to Sambucus leaves) Toxicity: Fruit TOXIC to humans.
eFlora Treatment Author: Bruce A. Ford & Dieter H. Wilken
Actaea rubra (Aiton) Willd.
Habit: Plant (2)3--10 dm. Stem: few-branched distally, sparsely puberulent. Leaf: 10--40 cm, lower 2--3-ternate, upper 1--2-ternate, leaflets 2--9 cm, toothed to irregularly cut, lateral lanceolate to ovate, terminal widely ovate to +- round. Inflorescence: pedicels spreading to ascending, 5--8 mm, 6--37 mm in fruit. Flower: sepals 2--5 mm, +- white or +- purple-green; petals +- = sepals, white; stamens 3--7 mm. Fruit: 5--10 mm, red or white, shiny. Chromosomes: n=8.
Ecology: Deep soils, moist, open to shaded sites, mixed-evergreen or conifer forests; Elevation: < 2800 m. Bioregional Distribution: NW, CaR, SN (exc Teh), SnFrB, SCoRO, SnBr; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, northeastern North America. Flowering Time: May--Sep
Synonyms: Actaea rubra subsp. arguta (Nutt.) Hultén
Jepson eFlora Author: Bruce A. Ford & Dieter H. Wilken
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Actaea rubra

botanical illustration including Actaea rubra


Citation for this treatment: Bruce A. Ford & Dieter H. Wilken 2012, Actaea rubra, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 13, 2019.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2019, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 13, 2019.

Actaea rubra
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© 2011 Vernon Smith
Actaea rubra
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© 2016 Keir Morse
Actaea rubra
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© 2003 Steve Matson
Actaea rubra
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© 2016 Keir Morse
Actaea rubra
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© 2004 George W. Hartwell
Actaea rubra
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© 2009 Barry Breckling

More photos of Actaea rubra in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Actaea rubra:
NW, CaR, SN (exc Teh), SnFrB, SCoRO, SnBr
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


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Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.