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Actaea (rubra)

Jan Schultz
Forest Plant Ecologist
USDA FS - Hiawatha National Forest
1030 Wright Street
Marquette, Michigan 49855
906.228.4484 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Ranunculaceae
Family Common Name: Buttercup Family
Scientific Name: Actaea rubra (Aiton) Willd.
Common Name: Red baneberry
Species Code: ACRU2
General Distribution: Found in rich mixed and coniferous forests and swamps with aspen, oak, cedar, spruce, fir, hemlock or tamarack with average moisture. Rich, well drained loam. (ph 5-6). Light to medium shade. Height 1'-3'.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Time To Grow: 0
Propagule Collection: Seed is collected by hand from locally native plants within the eastern central Upper Peninsula. Flowers from late May to June. Berries on individual plants do not ripen simultaneously. Berries are harvested in August. Fruit a red, or rarely white, berry. Ruputed to be poisonous.
Propagule Processing: Remove the pulp as soon as possible afer picking by stripping off the pulp by hand or very gently using a blender with water or rubbing the berry on a sieve and floating off the pulp. Dry seeds for 1 week. Once the seeds have dried begin stratification.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Stratification: Use a Ziploc-style bag or a small Rubbermaid-style container to mix an equal amount of of seeds with either perlite or vermiculite. Add a small amount of water. (There should be no visible water within the bag or container). Place in a refrigerator or cold garage (33-42 degree F) for at least five months. Cold store until planted (up to 3 years).
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Propagation Environment: Greenhouse film is made of Standard U.V. 3HL Clear 6 mil (J.R. Johnson's Greenhouse Supply Inc.) Fans run continuously to circulate the air. Vents open during the summer months to allow for cooling. Container Type: grows best in 24 cell (2" diameter)14"x8.5"x4" deep flats, and other flats with 2" diameter or more and depths of 4" or more. Sowing Media: Scotts Redi-earth Plug and Seedling Mix. Contains vermiculite, and sphagnum peat moss. Soil is sterile.
Thoroughly moisten the soil with water, mixing in the water with a trowel. Cover the holes in the bottom/sides of the plug tray cells with newspaper so that the soil does not fall out. Fill cells with damp soil and press soil down with a spoon. Refill the cell plugs with soil to the top, this time not pressing it down. Water the soil in the plug cells again. Sow the seeds by hand at a rate of about 1 seed in each small cell and 2 seeds in each cell with a diameter greater than 2.5". Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or gently press the seeds into the dirt. Sow red baneberry seeds at all times of the year due to their unpredictable germination.
Establishment Phase: From January until August the greenhouse thermostat is set at 65 degree F both day and night. Ambient greenhouse temperatures may reach 100 degrees F during the day in the summer. From September to the end of December the greenhouse thermostat is set at 55 degrees F. During this season ambient greenhouse temperatures may reach 75 degree F during the day. Soil is kept consistently damp during germination. Water using a fine mist or light hose setting only. Newly planted trays are placed on the south side of the greenhouse. No artificial light is used.
Active Growth Phase: The soil does not need to be kept consistently moist. The greenhouse holds plants at all stages of growth so the temperature setting stays the same for all plants at all stages of growth. Plant trays are moved to cooler north greenhouse tables. No fertilizers are used.
Hardening Phase: In early-late spring, mature plants can be moved into a cold frame with a cover of material that diffuses sunlight to prevent scorching of the plants. When danger of frost has passed leave plants outside. Water less frequently.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: In the Upper Peninsula, flats are planted from late May to early October. Flats that arenot planted in the summer remain in the greenhouse for another season.
Other Comments: Berries poisonous. Treatment is the same for white baneberry (A. pachypoda). Ideal for shade gardens. Individual plants are relatively long lived (10+years).


Schultz, Jan; Beyer, Patty; Williams, Julie. 2002. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Actaea rubra (Aiton) Willd. plants USDA FS - Hiawatha National Forest Marquette, Michigan. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/06/17). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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