Native Indiana Berry is Pretty for Holiday Decor but Toxic to Humans and Pets
For those who enjoy adventuring in the great outdoors, being aware of your natural surroundings is incredibly important - not only for you, but also for your children, and your pets, especially when it comes to the natural flora.
A Name that Means Death
While many plants in the wild are completely harmless to humans and pets, there are plenty that are poisonous. Most often plants with "bane" in their name are in the latter category, including White Baneberry, Actaea pachypoda.
Baneberry is from the Old English words bana or bona, which both mean “slayer” or “murderer”
Also Known as Dolls Eyes
Sometimes known as Dolls Eyes because of its resemblance to the eyes of a porcelain doll, White Baneberry is found across Indiana. The plant grows to approximately one to three feet in height and the stems are often purple at the base. It produces clusters of small flowers atop long stems in the spring making it an attractant for pollinators. In the late summer, it produces berries.
Safe for Birds; Bad for Mammals
While many birds enjoy the fruit of the White Baneberry, the entire plant from roots to fruit is toxic to humans and animals. IndianaNativePlants.org says that as few as six berries are enough to make a person very ill if ingested.
Some of the symptoms included gastrointestinal inflammations, burning of the mouth and throat, salivation, dizziness, convulsions, deliriums, hallucinations, headaches, rapid pulse, circulatory failure, and cardiac arrest.
Surprisingly, White Baneberry has a rich history in folk medicine despite its toxicity. It has been used to treat a number of ailments including constipation, colds, coughs, headaches, and more.
Both the Native Americans and the early European settlers used small amounts of this plant as medicine.
White Baneberry is definitely one native Indiana plant species to watch out for while on your next adventure.
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Gallery Credit: Stacker