Very desirable woodland plants native to the eastern U.S. and grown chiefly for their showy flowers and berries. To thrive, these plants need moist, rich, acid, well-drained, woodsy soil and cool roots. In the South, A. pachypoda and A. rubra do best in the mountainous regions of West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The genus Cimicifuga has recently been incorporated into spring-flowering Actaea, expanding the range of the group into warmer regions and including midsummer and fall bloomers.
A. japonica (Cimicifuga japonica). JAPANESE BUGBANE. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to Japan. White autumn flowers on purplish black, leafless stalks. In bloom, plant is 34 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide. Variety A. j. acerina has white flowers opening from pink buds.
A. pachypoda (A. alba). WHITE BANEBERRY, DOLL'S EYES. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Plant produces showy, 14-in. berries that are white with a dark spot at the tip; berry stalks are swollen and red. 'Misty Blue' is named for its delicate, blue-green foliage.
A. racemosa (C. racemosa). BLACK SNAKEROOT, COHOSH BUGBANE. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to eastern North America. Leafy clump to 34 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide. Flowering stalks are typically branched and carry dense spikes of white flowers that increase plant height to 7 ft. Blooms between midsummer and early fall.
A. rubra. RED BANEBERRY. Zone US; USDA 6. Similar to A. pachypoda, but berries are scarlet, somewhat larger, and borne on slender stems.
A. simplex (C. simplex). KAMCHATKA BUGBANE. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Native to Siberia and Japan. Foliage clump to 2 ft. tall and wide, with 3- to 4-ft. flower stalks in fall. 'Atropurpurea' has purplish leaves and pink-tinted flower buds on 5-ft. stems. 'Brunette' and 'Hillside Black Beauty' have even darker foliage and pinkish flowers. 'Black Negligee' has dark purple, finely cut leaves and white flowers tinged with purple. 'Prichard's Giant' (C. ramosa) has foliage clumps to 4 ft. tall and wide; erect stems to 7 ft. high carry foot-long, narrow spikes of white flowers.