baneberry, any plant of the small genus Actaea, north temperate perennials of the family Ranunculaceae (buttercup family) sometimes cultivated for the handsome (though poisonous) berrylike fruits. Native species, formerly used medicinally by both Native Americans and whites and also called cohosh, are the red baneberry (with a stalk of red berries) and the white baneberry (with a stalk of white berries). The plant is also one of several plants called herb Christopher, particularly the dark-fruited European species. The baneberry is similar to the related bugbane, one species of which is also called cohosh. Baneberry is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ranunculales, family Ranunculaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.