Happy Halloween: The Unusual Toxic NY Plant that Grows “Eyeballs”
Just in time for Halloween, there's a plant growing right under our noses that looks like it's straight out of a horror movie. Meet Actaea pachypoda, the toxic New York plant that sprouts "eyeballs".
Poisonous Plants in New York
Nicknamed "Doll's Eyes", "Baneberry", and even "Toadroot", Actaea pachypoda is a plant from the buttercup family. Here's what to look out for, as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NSY DEC) warns that "every part" of this plant is poisonous.
Doll's Eye Plant in New York
First off, it's clear to see where the plant gets its "Doll's Eyes" nickname, as the berries that grow on the plant closely resemble an eyeball (above). The white berry and black "pupil" makes it look like 100 eyes are staring at you from a blood red stalk. Before the berries form in the fall, the plant grows a cone-like cluster of flowers (below). Here's where to find them.
The DEC says that Actaea pachypoda grows in "moist, rich soils in hardwood forests" in most states in the country. The flowers (above) bloom in April, May, and June, with the berries forming after the temperatures cool in fall. As a reminder, the whole plant is toxic (not just the berries), but the concentration is in the berries and roots.
There are more than a few plants to avoid here in the Hudson Valley; some are common (hello, poison ivy), and others you may have never heard of before. Brush up on your plant safety below.