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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore’s books contain an excellent glossary of medical terms, as well as maps. )
Common Name: Black Cohosh, Black Baneberry, Black Bugbane
Latin Name: Cimicifuga racemosa aka Actaea racemosa,
Family: Ranunculaceae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACRA7 States east of the Mississippi R. including Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, excluding Vermont , New Hamshire Florida Actaea racemosa
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACRAR Same states Actaea racemosa var. racemosa
Photos: (click on latin name after range) 
Appearance and Habitat:A large, bush-like plant, 3-6 ft. tall, with compound,  toothed leaves and long candles of tiny, white, fuzzy flowers.  (1) Moist, mixed deciduous forests, wooded slopes, ravines, creek margins, thickets, moist meadowlands, forest margins, and especially mountainous terrain from sea level to 1500 meters. Eastern N. America – Massachusetts to Ontario, south to Georgia and Tennessee.  A perennial  growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in).  It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. (2)
Warnings: This plant is poisonous in large doses.  Large doses irritate nerve centres and may cause abortion. (3)
Edible Uses: Leaves – cooked. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. (4)
Medicinal Uses: Black cohosh is a traditional remedy of the North American Indians where it was used mainly to treat women’s problems, especially painful periods and problems associated with the menopause. A popular and widely used herbal remedy, it is effective in the treatment of a range of diseases. The root is alterative, antidote, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, astringent, cardiotonic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, hypnotic, sedative, tonic and vasodilator. It is harvested in the autumn as the leaves die down, then cut into pieces and dried. The root is toxic in overdose, it should be used with caution and be completely avoided by pregnant women. See also the notes above on toxicity. The medically active ingredients are not soluble in water so a tincture of the root is normally used. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism, as a sedative and an emmenagogue. It is traditionally important in the treatment of women’s complaints, acting specifically on the uterus it eases uterine cramps and has been used to help in childbirth. Research has shown that the root has oestrogenic activity and is thought to reduce levels of pituitary luteinizing hormone, thereby decreasing the ovaries production of progesterone. The root is also hypoglycaemic, sedative and anti-inflammatory. Used in conjunction with St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) it is 78% effective in treating hot flushes and other menopausal problems. An extract of the root has been shown to strengthen the male reproductive organ in rats. The root contains salicylic acid, which makes it of value in the treatment of various rheumatic problems – it is particularly effective in the acute stage of rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica and chorea. Its sedative action makes it useful for treating a range of other complaints including tinnitus and high blood pressure. The roots are used to make a homeopathic remedy. This is used mainly for women, especially during pregnancy (5)
Common Name: Baneberry
Latin Name: Actaea arguta,  A. rubra, A. pachypoda
Family: Ranunculaceae
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACRUR2  Montana, upper Plains  south to Kansas, Iowa and states north of the Ohio River to the East Coast, all of Canada Actaea rubra
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ACPA All states east of the Mississippi R. and states on the west bank of the Mississippi, plus Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska Actaea pachypoda

Photos: (click on latin name after range) 
Common Name: Baneberry, Yerba del Peco, Red Baneberry (Actaea arguta, Actaea rubra)
Appearance and Habitat: Moist shady areas, mostly in deciduous forests but also in mixed coniferous forests.  Open pine or spruce woodlands, swales, stream banks and swamps from sea level to 3,500 meters.  North America – Alaska to California and eastwards to Newfoundland and Philadelphia.  A perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft). It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. (1)  A bushy plant with large, highly divided leaves and a short, thick, rounded cluster of small white flowers in leaf axils or at stem  ends. The branched, 1-3 ft. stems of this perennial   bear two or three large compound  leaves, each thrice divided.   Leaflets are deeply saw-toothed. Above the foliage are dense, globular clusters of small white flowers. The fruit  is an attractive, but poisonous, red berry.  In flower, the stamens  give each cluster a feathery appearance. (2)  This is a large herb with big, erect, leaves, that are divided into threes.  The leaves and flowering stalks arise from a dark brown rootstalk.  The flowers are cream colored and form oval shaped puffs in early summer.  The flowers turn into a mass of red berries.  It needs moist rich woods, and usually grows in the shade.  Look for it above the ponderosa belt in Arizona, New Mexico, and northward. (3) 
Warnings: All parts of the plant are toxic, apparently acting upon the heart. (4)
Edible Uses: None (5)
Medicinal Uses: The whole plant, but especially the root, is analgesic, antirheumatic, galactogogue and rubefacient. The plant was often used medicinally by North American Indian tribes, though modern users should be aware of the plants potential toxicity. A tea made from the root is used as an appetizer, in the treatment of stomach pains, coughs, colds, menstrual irregularities, post partum pains, to increase milk flow and as a purgative after childbirth. Great caution should be employed if using this plant internally, the rootstock is a violent purgative, irritant and emetic. (6)  A tincture of the root is good for rheumatic type pains in the joints and muscles.  The tincture can also be used to remove hot flashes.  How ever pregnant women or people with chronic low blood pressure should avoid using it.  For the tincture use 1 part plant root to 2 parts 80% alcohol, for dried root, 1 part root to 5 parts alcohol.  You can take 10-15 drops up to 4 times a day.  Like all tinctures it has to rest for at least a month before straining out the root and using it. (7)  (Michael Moore has changed his opinion of Baneberry between the 1st edition and 2nd edition)
Foot Notes: (1, 4, 5, 6)
Foot Notes: (3, 7) Medicinial Plants of the Mountain West 2nd Edition, by Michael Moore, page 44-45, Copyright 2003, Publisher Museum of New Mexico Press, ISBN 978-0-89013-454-2
Common Name: White Baneberry ( Actaea pachypoda )Appearance and Habitat: The branched stems, from 1-3 ft. tall bear two or three large  compound leaves, each thrice divided.   Leaflets are deeply saw-toothed. Above the foliage are dense, globular clusters of small white flowers.  Fruit is an attractive but poisonous, white berry. This plant is sometimes called Dolls Eyes because the shiny white fruits resemble the china eyes once used in dolls. A red-fruited form of this species is distinguished from the otherwise similar Red Baneberry (A. rubra) by its thick floral stalk. (1) Deciduous forests, less often with pines, junipers, or other conifers.  Eastern N. America – S. Canada to Georgia, west to Oklahoma and Minnesota.  A perennial  growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).   It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen in August. (2)
Warnings: All parts of the plant are toxic, causing severe gastrointestinal inflammation and skin blisters.  (3) (A natural blistering agent, like chemical weapons?)
Edible Uses: None (4)
Medicinal Uses: The whole plant, but especially the root, is anticonvulsive, antirheumatic, emmenagogue, mildly hypnotic, oxytocic and stimulant. Use with caution, see the notes above on toxicity. A decoction of the roots has been used in the treatment of coughs, colds, rheumatism and syphilis. It is also used in small doses to ease the pain of childbirth and is used as a stimulant to revive and rally patients at the point of death. An infusion of the roots has been used externally to treat itchy skin and as a gargle for sore throats. An infusion of leaves was drunk by the women of some Indian tribes in order to stimulate the flow of milk. (5)
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.