Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day (prettygoodword) wrote in 1word1day,
Larry's Pretty Good Word of the Day

Thursday word: baneberry

baneberry (BAIN-ber-ee) - n., any plant of the genus Actaea, having large toothed leaves, spikes of small white flowers, and poisonous red, white, or black berries; the berry of these plants.

The only member of the buttercup family to have berry fruit. Also sometimes called herb Christopher, bugbane, and toadroot -- the last because toads are supposedly attracted by the scent, though the fact that they grow in the sort of moist conditions that toads prefer is the more likely reason for finding them together. The leaves and berries resemble that of the elder (as in "your mother smells of elderberries"), the Greek name of which is acte, thus the genus name. The common name comes from being poisonous -- bane (from Old English meaning slayer) being often used in names of toxic plants, as in wolfsbane (poisonous to wolves), henbane (poisonous to chickens), and so on -- so, "poison-berry."

"On the wooded slopes there are the white fruits of the baneberry on its quaintly-shaped red stalks, the pretty fruit clusters of the moonseed and the smilax."
—Frederick John Lazell, Some Summer Days in Iowa


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