E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Actaea elata (Nutt.) Prantl
tall bugbane
Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Brian Klinkenberg  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #4380)

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Distribution of Actaea elata
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Actaea elata var. elata

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a woody rhizome; stems erect, branched above, 120-180 cm tall, sparsely minutely-hairy to woolly-hairy, glandular, especially above.
Alternate, stalked, the stalks to 40 cm long, angled, grooved on stem side, basal wings clasping stem; leaves large, to 80 cm long, twice 3-parted, leaflets heart-egg-shaped, 5-18 cm long, 7-23 cm wide, usually 3-lobed and again shallowly and irregularly lobed and toothed, the teeth gland-tipped, palmately veined, pointy-tipped, fine-hairy beneath, smooth above, margins fringed.
Inflorescence a terminal cluster of 4- to 14-flowered, raceme-like branches, 7-17 cm long, the inflorescence stalks subtended by 3 bracts, the central bract largest, lance awl-shaped; inflorescence glandular-hairy; flower stalks 1-8 mm long; petals absent; sepals 5, white or pinkish, egg-shaped, early deciduous; stamens 20-30, cream-coloured, showy, the outer sometimes broadened; pistils 1 to 3, glandular-hairy.
Follicles, usually 1 in upper flowers, often 2 or rarely 3 in lower flowers of racemes, oblong, 8-12 mm long, somewhat flattened, thin-walled, finely glandular-hairy; unstalked or stalks to 2 mm long; seeds reddish to purplish-brown, lens-shaped, about 2

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist forests in the lower montane zone; rare in extreme SW BC, known only from the Cultus Lake-Chilliwack River area; S to NW OR.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Actaea elata var. elata (Nutt.) Prantl
Cimicifuga elata Nutt.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References