Bugbane Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
baneberry Atropurpurea Group


The common name for Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group is Bugbane. This plant is known for its striking appearance characterized by its deep purple, almost black, feathery foliage. The leaves are typically broad and sharply toothed, providing an attractive contrast in a garden setting. Throughout the blooming period, Bugbane produces tall, slender spires that are topped with small, fluffy, creamy-white flowers. These flowers are elegantly arrayed along the vertical stalks, creating a frothy look above the dark foliage. The blooms are known for their strong, sweet fragrance that can add a pleasant scent to the area, attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies. Bugbane's contrast between the dark foliage and the light flowers makes it a popular choice for adding depth and interest to shade gardens or woodland settings. Despite the restricted vocabulary, it is worth noting that the plants' bold appearance makes it a prominent feature wherever it is planted.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Bugbane, Cimicifuga, Black Cohosh, Kamchatka Bugbane, Brunette Snakeroot.

    • Common names

      Cimicifuga simplex (DC.) Wormsk. ex Turcz., Actaea simplex (DC.) Wormsk. ex Prantl

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      4-6 feet (1.2-1.8 meters)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental value - The plant, commonly known as Bugbane or Cimicifuga, has striking purple-black foliage and tall flower spikes, adding dramatic height and contrast to garden beds or borders.
    • Attracts pollinators - Its flowers produce nectar that attracts bees and other pollinating insects, supporting local ecosystems.
    • Shade tolerance - It can grow in partially shaded areas, making it useful for underplanting and adding interest to shady garden spots.
    • Seasonal interest - Bugbane has a late bloom time, offering visual interest in the garden from summer to fall when many other plants have finished flowering.
    • Low maintenance - Once established, it requires minimal care, making it ideal for gardeners with limited time.
    • Deer resistance - The plant is typically resistant to deer, which helps to prevent it from being eaten in areas with high deer populations.
    • Drought tolerance - After establishment, it can tolerate periods of drought, reducing the need for frequent watering.
    • Non-invasiveness - Unlike some other ornamental plants, Bugbane does not tend to spread uncontrollably, which helps in maintaining garden design and balance.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Cimicifuga simplex, also known as Bugbane, can be used as a natural insect repellant when its crushed leaves are rubbed onto the skin.
    • The dramatic foliage of the Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group can be used in floral arrangements to add height and a burgundy color accent.
    • With its tall, elegant spires, Bugbane is sometimes used as a photographic subject in garden and nature photography.
    • The dried seed heads of this plant can be incorporated into dried flower crafts and decorations for a rustic and natural aesthetic.
    • Incorporated into a rain garden design, Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group can help in the absorption and filtration of rainwater runoff.
    • Gardeners can plant Bugbane as a companion plant to attract pollinators to benefit other nearby plants in the garden.
    • Due to its height and structure, Bugbane can be used to provide a natural screen for privacy in a garden.
    • The plant may be used in educational settings, such as botany classes, to teach plant identification and characteristics of the Ranunculaceae family.
    • Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group is sometimes planted around the base of bird feeders to provide a sheltered spot for birds to perch.
    • The plant can be used in a sensory garden; the plants' textures and the gentle sound of its leaves in the breeze contribute to the sensory experience.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Cimicifuga is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Cimicifuga is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Mystery: Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group, commonly known as Black Snakeroot, often holds a connotation of mystery due to its deep purple, almost black foliage and its preference for shaded, woodland environments.
    • Protection: Black Snakeroot was believed to offer protection against evil spirits and snake bites in folklore, hence its common name.
    • Sorcery: Associated with the use in witchcraft and magical practices, Black Snakeroot's exotic appearance contributed to its use in potions and spells.
    • Transformation: Reflecting the idea of change, the plant's ability to add dramatic accents to a garden symbolizes the transformation of space and possibly personal change.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Early spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Bugbane prefers moist soil, so it's important to water it regularly to maintain consistent moisture levels, especially during its growing season in spring and summer. Generally, watering once a week with about 1 to 1.5 gallons of water should be sufficient, but this can vary depending on climate conditions and soil type. Always check the top inch of soil; if it feels dry, it's time to water. Cut back on watering in the fall as the plant prepares for dormancy.

  • sunLight

    Bugbane thrives best in partial shade conditions. It should be planted in a location where it can receive some morning sunlight but is protected from the intense heat of the afternoon sun. Dappled sunlight beneath open-branched trees or on the north side of a building provides an ideal lighting environment for this plant.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Bugbane can endure a range of temperatures, but grows best when the temperature stays between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive minimum temperatures down to about -30 degrees Fahrenheit. Its ideal growing conditions are in a cool to moderate climate, avoiding extremes of heat or prolonged frost.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Bugbane is generally for aesthetic purposes and to maintain its shape. It should be done in late winter or early spring before new growth commences. Cut back the spent flower stalks to the ground and remove any damaged or dead foliage. Pruning once a year is usually sufficient. Pruning can also stimulate new growth and enhance the plant's vigor.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Bugbane, commonly known as the Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group, thrives best in moist, well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. A soil pH of 6 to 7 is ideal for optimal growth and flowering.

  • plantRepotting

    Bugbanes do not need frequent repotting and perform well when they are undisturbed. They should only be repotted if the clumps become too crowded, generally every 3 to 4 years.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Bugbane plants, with their preferred common name, do not require high humidity and can thrive in average garden conditions without the need for special humidity considerations.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place Bugbane in a bright spot, with cool temps and moist soil.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Bugbane in partial shade with moist, rich soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Actaea simplex Atropurpurea Group, commonly known as Black Cohosh, begins as a seed, which germinates in moist, fertile soil, typically in spring. The seedling emerges, developing into a young plant with a small rosette of leaves close to the ground. As the plant matures, it develops a larger clump of compound leaves with an attractive, purplish tinge and reaches its full foliage size. During late summer to early fall, it produces tall, wand-like flowering spikes with numerous small, white flowers that are attractive to pollinators. After pollination, the flowers turn into small berries. The plant then enters a state of dormancy during the winter, with the foliage dying back, and the cycle begins anew with the next growing season.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early spring

    • The most popular method of propagating Actaea simplex 'Atropurpurea Group', commonly known as Baneberry or Bugbane, is by division of the plant's rhizomes. This is typically done in the early spring before new growth begins. Gardeners should carefully dig up the clump of the plant, ensuring that they keep as much of the root system intact as possible. The clump should then be gently broken apart into smaller sections, each with several buds. These sections can then be replanted into well-prepared soil, ideally enriched with organic matter, at the same depth they were originally growing. Watering the new divisions thoroughly helps them establish more quickly. It is important to space the divisions adequately to allow for the mature spread of the plant which can be around 18 to 36 inches apart (45 to 90 centimeters).