Definition of baneberry in English:



  • 1A plant of the buttercup family, which bears fluffy spikes of creamy-white flowers followed by shiny berries, found in north temperate regions.

    Genus Actaea, family Ranunculaceae, especially the common Eurasian A. spicata (also called herb Christopher), with black berries

    • ‘Like all the other baneberries, the ferny leaves are a pleasure from spring to autumn.’
    • ‘The distinguishing feature is the stalk of each flower - it is very slender in red baneberry, and thick in white baneberry.’
    • ‘Thus we find, in no particular order, periwinkles, gooseberries, baneberries, greater celandine, feverfew, and sempervivum.’
    • ‘Avoid the lookalike baneberries that grow in forests, not bogs.’
    • ‘We share pink delicious gum in our garden by puffs of pearl white baneberries near the gleaming stream.’
    • ‘White and red baneberries, trillium, arisaemas… those Jack-in-the-pulpits kids love to open up and peer into, and hay scented, Christmas and maidenhair ferns… they had already staked their claim on the dry floor bed.’
    • ‘In place of Aryan glory I'd grown patches of wiry baneberry thistles interspersed with industrial size brillo bathtub scrubbers.’
    • ‘Some of the rare plants to benefit from the Project will include limestone fern, baneberry, soloman's seal and rigid buckler fern.’
    • ‘He takes pleasure in the wild areas that seem secure for now, like the woodlot across the street where toothworts (Dentaria spp.), red baneberries and purple trilliums grow.’
    • ‘European species have fatally poisoned children, but baneberries are not reported to have caused death to humans or livestock in the United States.’
    • ‘If buttercups are child-like, and bugbanes are adults, the baneberries are the crazy in-laws.’
    • ‘Common in the understory are chokecherry, beaked hazelnut, a wild rose, red baneberry, thimbleberry, and bracken.’
    • ‘Yellow lady's slipper, ram's head lady's slipper, asters, sedges, white and red baneberries, wild sarsaparilla, spotted touch-me-not, goldenrods and a variety of fern species are common species of the herb layer.’
    • ‘In the meantime, our new wildflower collection now has some nice trillium and baneberries in progress.’
    • ‘Groundlayer species are typical mesic woodland plants such as bedstraws, large-leaved aster, golden saxifrage (in springs), baneberries, miterworts, spring beauty, Canada mayflower, wild geranium, and violets.’
    1. 1.1 The bitter, often poisonous, berry of the baneberry.
      • ‘But baneberries have some subtle but noticeable differences from the highbush cranberries.’
      • ‘If you know about it or if you know how to buy baneberries (dried or powdered), kindly send information.’
      • ‘Mountain ash will hold its berries all winter, but baneberries are falling, drops of lip-red venom in the moss.’
      • ‘Next you will add three baneberries; this is very important because if you don't, you will make the Draught of Unknown Desires, which will be effective for about an hour.’


Mid 18th century: from bane in the sense ‘poison’ + berry.