actaea

This is another one of those taxonomy shape-shifters — for years called Cimicifuga, it is now being included under the genus Actaea, so be advised to look for this plant by either name. By whichever name you find it, it is a lovely plant for the shade garden.

Cimicifuga elata
Actaea elata

It is important to note however, that while not toxic to birds, the seeds (and possibly all parts of this plant) are highly toxic to mammals, including humans.

Native only to British Columbia south through western Oregon, it is considered rare and endangered in the wild; not because it isn’t commonly found (which is the usual indicator, sizable communities but in only a few locations), but because the number of individual plants in the many places it can be found is very small, sometimes less than twenty-five in number. It has only been through careful propagation that they are now available for sale.

Planting this woodland beauty in your garden, then, is an act of helping to restore and repopulate this important native plant. It is attractive as both a pollen and food source to more than one species of butterfly, and attracts bees and other beneficial insects.

Its common name of Bugbane comes from both its attribute of being virtually pest-free, as well as useful as a bug-repellent.

It is similar to Actaea rubra (Red Baneberry) and Trautvetteria caroliniensis (False Bugbane), but showier than both: lush mound of toothed, maple-like leaves is topped by wands of fragrant, delicately-frothy flower spikes of white to barely pink that can reach as tall as six feet.

Blooming typically late June into August, they are magnets to bees, butterflies and other pollinators, and make a graceful presence in shady spots or woodland gardens. This plant requires little; give it humus-rich soil and ample water, and it will be happy.

True to its name, Bugbane is virtually disease and pest free, and if left undisturbed, will self-seed and over time create a striking display in the latter part of the summer, when the spring flowers have long-since faded and disappeared.

Find Natives for your garden

We offer a great selection of Northwest Natives from spring through fall. The plants featured are highlighted favorites, but they do not represent ALL of the plants we carry. For a more complete list, see our Northwest Native Plant List.

Natives

Abies: Native Fir

Natives

Acer Circinatum: Vine Maple

Natives

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Arbutus: Pacific Madrone

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Natives

Attracting Butterflies

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Natives

Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Natives

Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood
Natives

Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazelnut
Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Natives

Edible Fruits

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Natives

Native Ferns

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Natives

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Natives

Holodiscus: Oceanspray

Natives

Attracting Hummingbirds

Natives

Native Iris

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Natives

Mahonia: Oregon Grape

Natives

Malus fusca

Western Crabapple
Natives

Osmaronia: Indian Plum

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Natives

Philadelphus: Mock Orange

Natives

Physocarpus

Western Ninebark
Natives

Pinus: Native Pine

Natives

Quercus: Garry Oak

Natives

Rhamnus: Cascara

Natives

Ribes: Wild Currant

Natives

Rosa: Wild Rose

Natives

Rubus: Salmonberry

Natives

Sambucus: Elderberry

Natives

Sedum: Stonecrop

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Symphoricarpos: Snowberry

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Natives

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Natives

Viburnum trilobum

Cranberrybush
Natives

Viola: Violet

Natives

Winter Interest