Bugbane Actaea simplex (Atropurpurea Group) 'Black Negligee'

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
baneberry 'Black Negligee'


The 'Black Negligee' exhibits a dramatic and striking appearance with its signature dark, purplish-black foliage. The lacy leaves are finely cut, resembling the delicate fabric of a negligee, and provide a sultry backdrop for the gracefully arching, slender bottlebrush spikes that burst forth in the blooming season. These spiky blooms are densely packed with tiny flowers, usually a soft ivory-white, which stand in beautiful contrast to the dark foliage, exuding an enchanting fragrance that attracts pollinators from far and wide. This type of baneberry is a true garden standout, offering a rich depth of color and an element of sophistication with its alluring foliage and contrasting blooms.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Bugbane, Cohosh, Black Snakeroot, Fairy Candles

    • Common names

      Cimicifuga simplex (DC.) Wormsk. ex Turcz., Actaea matsumurae H.Hara, Cimicifuga matsumurae (H.Hara) Nakai, Cimicifuga japonica (Thunb.) Wormsk. ex Prantl.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Baneberry, specifically 'Black Negligee', is toxic to humans. The plant contains toxic compounds such as ranunculin, which can be harmful if ingested. Consumption of any part of the plant can lead to severe gastrointestinal distress, characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. More serious cases of poisoning might include dizziness, headaches, and in severe cases, circulatory and respiratory issues. Children are particularly susceptible to baneberry poisoning due to their smaller body size. It's crucial to seek medical attention immediately if any part of the plant is ingested.

    • To pets

      Baneberry, which includes the 'Black Negligee' cultivar, is also toxic to pets, such as cats and dogs. Similar to its effects on humans, the ingestion of any part of the baneberry plant can cause gastrointestinal upset in pets, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, poisoning can lead to more serious symptoms like seizures, muscle tremors, or even respiratory and cardiac failure. It is imperative to contact a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested baneberry.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      4-7 feet (1.2-2.1 meters)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Aesthetic Appeal: 'Black Negligee' adds visual interest to a garden with its dark purple-black foliage and bottlebrush spikes of white flowers.
    • Attracts Wildlife: The plant is known to attract bees and butterflies, which are beneficial for pollination in the garden.
    • Seasonal Interest: It provides a dramatic display, particularly in the autumn when many other plants are fading.
    • Shade Tolerant: As a woodland plant, it can thrive in shady areas where many other plants struggle.
    • Drought Resistance: Once established, it can tolerate periods of drought, making it suitable for drier climates or water-conserving gardens.
    • Easy to Grow: It requires minimal maintenance once established and is relatively easy to care for, appealing to beginner and experienced gardeners alike.
    • Deer and Rabbit Resistant: The foliage has properties that tend to deter deer and rabbits, helping to protect the garden from browsing animals.
    • Great for Mixed Borders: It can be effectively used in mixed borders alongside other perennials to create a varied and textured landscape.

  • 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

    • Photography: With its dark, finely cut foliage and spire-like white flowers, 'Black Snakeroot' can serve as an excellent subject for botanical photography and garden portfolios.
    • Themed Gardens: 'Black Snakeroot' works well as part of gothic-themed gardens, providing an intriguing, dark aesthetic with its deep purplish-black foliage.
    • Dye Production: The dark foliage of 'Black Snakeroot' may be used to create natural dyes for crafting and textile work.
    • Drama Productions: The plant can be incorporated into set designs for plays or outdoor theatrical events, especially when an eerie or somber ambiance is desired.
    • Artistic Inspiration: The unique appearance of 'Black Snakeroot' can inspire artists and be used as a muse for paintings, illustrations, and other forms of art.
    • Culinary Presentation: Although not edible, the foliage can be used as a striking garnish backdrop for plating in culinary presentations, to be removed before eating.
    • Education/Teaching: This plant can be used in botanical classes to teach about plant variation, pigmentation, and garden design.
    • Winter Interest: During the colder months, 'Black Snakeroot' provides structural interest in the garden due to its persistent seed heads and stems.
    • Wildlife Shelter: The dense foliage can provide hiding spots and microhabitats for insects and small wildlife in the garden.
    • Horticultural Shows: 'Black Snakeroot' can be used as a showcase plant in garden and horticultural shows due to its distinctive appearance.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Bugbane is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Bugbane is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Mystery: The 'Black Negligee' has dark, almost black foliage which can convey a sense of the mysterious or the unknown.
    • Sophistication: Its elegant appearance and unique coloring are reminiscent of a sleek, black dress, symbolizing sophistication and elegance.
    • Feminine Power: With a name like 'Black Negligee', this plant may be seen to embody feminine strength and sensuality.
    • Protection: In some traditions, dark colored plants are believed to ward off negative energies, offering protection to the space around them.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Early Spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Bugbane 'Black Negligee' requires even moisture and should be kept consistently damp without becoming waterlogged. Typically, watering this plant with 1 inch of water per week is adequate. During the growing season or hotter, drier periods, you may need to water it twice a week. Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation to water directly at the base to avoid wetting the foliage, which can encourage fungal diseases. In winter, reduce watering frequency as the plant requires less moisture due to cooler temperatures and dormant growth.

  • sunLight

    Bugbane 'Black Negligee' thrives best in partial shade to full shade. Avoid direct afternoon sunlight, which can scorch the leaves. A location with morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal, or under the dappled shade of larger trees and shrubs. The plant will perform well in areas with filtered light throughout the day.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Bugbane 'Black Negligee' can tolerate temperatures as low as 20°F but prefers the range of 60°F to 70°F for optimal growth. It's hardy in USDA zones 4 through 8. The plant may struggle in regions where temperatures regularly exceed 80°F, especially if it's not provided with enough shade and moisture.

  • scissorsPruning

    Trim back Bugbane 'Black Negligee' in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Remove dead foliage and spent flower stalks to encourage healthy new growth and maintain the plant's appearance. Pruning is typically done once annually, and if necessary, light trimming can be done after flowering to shape the plant or to remove any damaged stems.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Bugbane 'Black Negligee' thrives in a soil mix that's rich in organic matter with good drainage. It prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH range, typically between 6.0 and 7.0. A blend of garden loam, peat moss or well-rotted compost, and perlite or coarse sand in equal parts would create an ideal growing medium for this plant.

  • plantRepotting

    Bugbane 'Black Negligee' does not need frequent repotting as it's a perennial. Usually, it should be divided or repotted every 3-4 years to maintain vigor and health, or when the plant has outgrown its current container or space in the garden.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Bugbane 'Black Negligee' prefers moderate humidity levels. While it can tolerate some fluctuation, aim for a humidity level that is consistent with what is found in its natural woodland habitat, usually around 40-60%. Avoid extremely dry or overly humid conditions which are not conducive to its health.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Keep in moist, well-draining soil with dappled light.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, moist soil, divide every 3-4 years.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life of the Baneberry 'Black Negligee' begins with seed germination, typically in moist soil conditions in partial to full shade. Following sprouting, seedlings develop into mature plants with distinctive dark, almost black, finely dissected leaves and an upright habit that can reach up to 2 feet tall. The plant then enters a vegetative state where it focuses on leaf and stem growth. This perennial reaches maturity and blooms in late summer to early fall, producing tall, white, bottlebrush-like flowers that attract pollinators. After flowering, the plant produces inedible black berries which contain seeds that can disperse to propagate new plants. During winter, the Baneberry 'Black Negligee' dies back to the ground, with its roots remaining dormant until the next spring when the cycle recommences.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early Spring

    • Actaea simplex 'Black Negligee', commonly known as bugbane, can be propagated most effectively by division. The best time for this method is in early spring or just after the plant has finished flowering in the fall. Gardeners should carefully dig up the clump, trying not to damage the roots, and use a sharp spade or knife to divide it into smaller sections, ensuring that each new section has at least a few growing points or buds. The divisions should then be replanted at the same depth they were growing at before and watered well. This method allows the plant to recover and establish itself during the cooler, moist periods of the year, which is ideal for root growth. It's important to provide adequate moisture and avoid letting the newly planted divisions dry out, as consistent soil moisture is key to successful establishment.