Doll’s Eye, a Beautiful Plant, but so Toxic, That It Can Do a Lot of Damage

As you can imagine, this curious wild plant gets its name from the clusters of small white berries, with black spots, which it produces in late summer. TheĀ  Actaea pachypoda, its scientific name, is native to the rain forests and deciduous North America and much of Europe. Despite its interesting appearance, all parts of the plant are toxic. The birds eat them without a problem, but they can cause severe symptoms if a person does it: sore mouth, throat, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, headache, and hallucinations are some of them.

In addition to the doll’s eye, Actaea pachypoda also receives the common name of poisonous white berry. The reasons are obvious. If even knowing this you are interested in growing this plant, or if you are only curious to know it, read on to know it better.

The Actaea pachypoda is a perennial herb with thin stems that can reach 50 cm high. The leaves, composed and serrated, are very decorative, as are the flowers, small and white, which appear grouped in compact and elongated clusters of up to 10 cm.

Actaea pachypoda cultivation 

The cultivation of the doll’s eye plant is not complicated, you just have to take into account that it is a forest plant that thrives in moist, rich, well-drained soils and with partial shade, likes preferably cool climates and can withstand very low temperatures. The curious white berries begin to form in summer and remain until the first frosts.


The Actaea pachypoda should be planted in a location on a part shade or full shade.


The doll’s eye tolerates any type of soil but must be kept in constant humidity.


The necessary water should be watered to prevent the substrate from drying out completely. In a shaded environment, you won’t need much water; but if you get some sun, you will have to water more often.


Being an undergrowth plant, this plant is not ideal for dry and hot climates. Instead, it is very cold tolerant and can withstand winters with heavy frosts.


The doll’s eye has enough food if some compost is added to the soil in spring. Nor will you need extra fertilizers to flourish.

I really like this plant, the long, red stems that hold the fruits, in contrast to the white berries with their black dot. The truth is that, although they are decorative, they do not resemble the attractive and tasty red fruits, and that is good, since putting one in the mouth can be dangerous. I don’t think it’s an interesting option for gardens where children usually roam.

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