Actaea rubra – Ballyrobert Gardens
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Actaea rubra

Actaea rubra

£5.99


About this cultivar:

Actaea rubra, also known as red baneberry, chinaberry, or doll's eye, is a poisonous North American native. With bright grey-blue-green, divided leaves and spikes of small, fluffy white flowers in late spring and early summer, it already is a lovely plant for the garden. However the real appeal (for us anyway) is the wonderfully beautiful bright glossy scarlet berries! Don't eat those berries though! They are poisonous.

This is a slow growing plant and will take time to establish. However it is tough - in Alaska it ranges from the Kenai Peninsula, through Kodiak Island, Bristol Bay, and up the Yukon River.

  • Position: Full sun, partial shade (better in partial shade)
  • Soil: Almost any soil (that isn't too dry) - grows well in Ballyrobert!
  • Flowers: May, June, July
  • Other features: Interesting Foliage or Fruit
  • Hardiness: H7 - Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20°C), Fully hardy - grows well in Ballyrobert!
  • Habit: Clump forming
  • Foliage: Deciduous
  • Height: 30 to 60 cm  (1 - 2 ft)
  • Spread: 30 to 60 cm  (1 - 2 ft)
  • Time to full growth: 2 to 5 years
  • Plant type: Herbaceous Perennial
  • Colour: White, red, blue, green, grey
  • Goes well with: Ferns (Dryopteris, Polystichum and Polypodium), Heucheras and glossier grasses such as Hackencloa. Rodgersia, Anemones, Fuchsias, Hydrangeas.

About this genus:

Actaea are herbaceous perennials, many of which were known as Circimifuga from 1732 (when John Bartram discovered the plant) until 2000 when DNA evidence discovered Circimifuga were also Actaea. Whatever you call them, Actaea have a majestic frame - tall and graceful - with dark straight stems. The leaves are often matt shades of the dark bronze-black-brown, but can also be glossy or green.

Depending on the cultivar the fragrant flowers can be delicate white, cream or pale pink, and are tightly packed on dreamy spikes. This foliage, flower, and fragrance combination undoubtedly makes it a favorite in our garden at Ballyrobert and we think it should be in every garden.

You're often told Actaea prefer part shade or full shade and thrive in cooler, moist areas. However we grow one in an old bath in the middle of our yard! (I think by definition the climate in the British Isles is never full-sun). If too dry their leaves scorch, if too sunny the leaves bleach. Difficult to propagate since they don't like being disturbed and are quite slow growing. The simplex species tends to flower in later Autumn. The Atropurpurea Group typically have purple to bronze tinted foliage

In the garden Actaea tend to be used for their foliage and look great mixed with other foliage plants such as ferns (Dryopteris, Polystichum, and Polypodium), Heucheras, and glossier grasses such as Hakonechloa. Flower-wise Actaea also work well with Anemones, Fuchsias, and even some Hydrangeas.