THE EYEBALL PLANT - Actaea pachypoda

Eyeball plant - Actaea pachypoda
Eyeball plant - Actaea pachypoda

Looking for all the world like a collection of disembodied eyes hanging from individual stalks, the Eyeball plant - Actaea pachypoda has got to be one of the creepiest plants around.

Each of these striking features is a 1 cm diameter white berry, topped with a black stigma scar. The size, colour and shape of these fruits gives this species its other common name of 'doll's eyes'. However, for those of who do not pander to such foolishness, it is simply known as the 'White Baneberry'. These bizarre looking berries ripen over the summer, turning into a fruit that persists on the plant until frost.

Eyeball plant - Actaea pachypoda
Eyeball plant - Actaea pachypoda
The white baneberry is an herbaceous perennial plant native to the hardwood and mixed forest stands of eastern North America. It grows up to 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide and prefers clay to coarse loamy upland soils. In cultivation it requires part to full shade, rich loamy soil, and regular water with good drainage to reproduce its native habitat.

If your conditions are not quite right then they can be improved by enriching the soil with organic matter, and watering thoroughly in dry weather.

Cut back after fruiting

WARNING: Both the berries and the entire plant are considered poisonous to humans. The berries contain cardiogenic toxins which can have an immediate sedative effect on human cardiac muscle tissue. This can lead to cardiac arrest and death. The berries are the most poisonous part of the plant, although they are harmless to birds, the plant's primary seed dispersers.

The eyeball plant, sorry, the white baneberry has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

For more information click onto:
CALLICARPA BODINIERI var. giraldii 'Profusion'
HOW TO GROW THE BUSHMAN'S PIPE - ceropegia ampliata
THE EYEBALL PLANT - Actaea pachypoda
THE ORANGE PEEL CLEMATIS - Clematis tangutica

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