Bugbane, Baneberry or Cohosh

This is one of those confusing genera in the plant world. Taxonomists may include the species from Actaea in the genus Cimicifugia or Souliea or vice versa. There are about 25 species included in this group all of which are native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

This genus was named by Linnaeus with the Latin word for elderberry since the leaves of Actea resemble that plant. The term "bane" seen in so many plant common names comes from the Anglo-Saxon word, bana, meaning "murderous".

Actea alba White Baneberry, Doll's Eyes
A. pachypoda White Baneberry, White Cohosh
A. racemosa (formerly Cimicifuga racemosa) Bugbane
A. rubra Red Baneberry, Red Cohosh
A. simplex Kamchatka Bugbane
A. spicata Black Baneberry, Herb Christopher

Species Hgt
Size (in)
length (ft)
No. of
A. americana 2-6 mid 1-3 2-3 3-8
A. racemosa 6-8 early 3-4 3-4 1-2
A. simplex 3-4 late 1-2 2-3 2-3

* Guides and Keys are from the book "Herbaceous Perennial Plants A Treatise on their Identification, Culture and Garden Attributes" by Dr Allan M. Armitage of the University of Georgia. Varsity Press, Athens, Georgia. 1989 ISBN 0-942375-00. More on Dr Armitage and his other books.



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