Friday, August 28, 2009

Eeehhh... I think it is looking at me...

My oldest daughter spotted this unusual plant while walking along Breakneck Road in McConnells Mill. I took a few photos and we identified it as Baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) after returning home. It has many nicknames including Doll's-eyes, Bugbane, Necklace Weed, White Cohosh and White Baneberry. The overall plant is poisonous and may cause skin blisters if touched. Eating the berries may result in cardiac arrest, gastrointestinal inflammation or death depending on which article you read. Yikes! It is a monster!

With that in mind, there are a few traditional herbal remedies derived from this plant.
"The American species is considered by the natives a valuable remedy against snake-bite, especially of the rattlesnake, hence it is - with several other plants - sometimes known as one of the 'Rattlesnake herbs.'"
Source -
"Native Americans used a root tea for various problems including pain, colds and coughs. The Cherokee use it to revive a patient near death. The Chippewa used the same tea for convulsions."
Source - Wildflowers of Southeastern US
Wikipedia notes Native Americans brewed a tea was from the roots of this plant to be administered after childbirth to alleviate pain.
It turns out this monster is just as interesting as it first appeared.

Sources and more info: Wikipedia,, Wildflowers of Southeastern US, NC State University
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