Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Autumn Foliage and Red Baneberry

Here is an autumn scene from my backyard, and yes, actually a lot of my neighbor's yard too.  I have been working to get the ornamental grass in the foreground to grow.

At left is Red Baneberry, actaea rubra. I have been wondering what it was, and I finally found it. It has these showy red berries that look like they might be edible or valuable.

But no, actually the berries make you sick, happily few people die from them because they taste so bad. Supposedly two berries could cause a heart attack in a young child. Other people say the worst effects are stomach-aches.

Red Baneberry contains two chemicals commonly found in the buttercup family, ranunculine and its degradation product, protoanemonin. It forms much like allicin forms in garlic when the plant is damaged and an enzyme is released -- see my previous post.  Protoanemonin like allicin is an antimicrobial, specifically an antifungal.

There are a lot of interesting plants, as well as potential pesticides right outside the backdoor.