The baneberry plant is a plant to avoid for its toxicity, both as a skin irritant as and as a potent source of poison. On the other hand it is a plant to protect, due to its endangered status. For both of the above reasons, it's important to know how to identify it.
The baneberry is actually found across the United States from coast to coast, north to south and east to west, with the exceptions of the Texas deserts. It is found even in the northern regions of Canada.
The baneberry is actually part of the buttercup family, which is also a toxic plant. It is under the class Dicotyledons, which is under the subkingdom of vascular plants. It is listed as a perennial herb in the Ranunculaceae family.
The baneberry is distinguished by its bright green leaves with serrated edges and the red berries that are produced on erect stalks. The leaves are compound, with five to 12 leaflets; the flowers are white; and the berries that follow are red with black eyes. The plant grows from 1-3 feet high.
The baneberry plant is a perennial that regrows through each spring and then flowers from May through July. It grows in forested areas, at lower elevations in the thick layers of decaying woodland materials.
The US Fish and WIldlife Service and the Department of the Interior are responsible for protecting plants on the endangered list. The baneberry is listed as endangered in several states and rare in others. Under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to take these plants from their native habitat.