Actaea x ludovici

Last week’s ‘discovery’ after a random wander through some woods. I stumbled into an area with A. pachypoda fo. rubrocarpa, A. pachypoda and… another Actaea which was looking like A. rubra (growing nearby) but not quite. What then? Well, it was the rarely seen hybrid between A. pachypoda and A. rubra – Actaea x ludovici!

Actaea x ludovici

       Actaea x ludovici

Red fruits like A. rubra (not shiny) with bigger black dots; thicker pedicels than in A. rubra and the raceme is more open reminding of A. pachypoda.

The hybrid berries contained a few seeds! What would come out of them, I really can’t tell… Flora of Michigan presents a short description; in mature exemplars the thickness of the fruits stalks and colour are a very good indicator, although there are other more detailed differences.

Meet the parents:

Actaea pachypoda
Actaea pachypoda – Doll’s eyes (the pedicels will become red when the fruits mature)
Actaea rubra
Actaea rubra – Red Baneberry
The fruits have slender pedicels and smaller ‘dots’ (the eye formed by the persistent stigma. Also, worth noticing that the raceme is more compact and the fruits are shiny when mature.

It seems I have a particular relation with the baneberries. Last year I also found the very rare Actaea pachypoda fo. rubrocarpa (which the obviously outdated Flora of NA says that it may not exist!). I still have to stumble onto A. rubra fo. neglecta…

Actaea pachypoda fo. rubrocarpa
A. pachypoda fo. rubrocarpa 
Magenta coloured fruits with red pedicels as thick as the axis of the raceme and with a pronounced swollen base, like in A. pachypoda

And just a note for those not interested in the botanical aspect – these are all wonderful plants for the shade garden!

4 replies
    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Thank you. Honestly, I don’t know if they are as rare as it is said, or not enough people able to notice them in the woods. A. p. fo. rubrocarpa is my favourite – there should be seedlings next spring!

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