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Doll’s eyes and tulip trees

Actaea pachypoda, Doll's Eyes; the fruits weigh down the stem. Image ©
Just a quick post to show you these amazing fruits that we spotted on a woodland walk at the weekend. The plant is Actaea pachypoda, also known as Doll’s Eyes or, more prosaically, as White Baneberry, and we came across just one plant, its two shoots weighed down by these spectacular berries.

This is one of those plants that used to be seen far more often until the deer population grew so dramatically that in much of our area the ground flora has been decimated. The whole plant is poisonous, but that doesn’t seem to deter the deer. There’s an interesting discussion of this and the other North American Actaea in the exceptional Spring Wildflowers Of The Northeast by Carol Gracie.

In the garden this is a fine shade plant, especially when it's matured into a fat clump  - although here in Pennsylvania the fruits - which follow white fluffy flwoers - tend to rot before they reach their full glory; I think our plant is too crowded and overhung by shrubs.

The other fine sight at Tillman Ravine in New Jersey was a huge tulip tree, Liriodendron tulipifera, its fall foliage bright yellow high against the blue sky, way above the trickling creek. I remember the one at Kew, planted in 1770! Great to see such a fine specimen in the wild (but impossible to photograph).

In North America you can buy plants of Actaea pachypoda from The Tree Nursery

In Britian you can buy plants of Actaea pachypoda from these RHS PlantFinder nurseries