Flora of the Southeastern United States
2022 Edition

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Key to Actaea

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1 Terminal leaflet deeply cordate, mostly > 12 cm wide, with 7-9 major veins arising palmately from the base; principal leaves with 3-9 (-17) leaflets; [section Oligocarpae]
1 Terminal leaflet broadly cuneate, rounded, truncate, or subcordate, mostly < 12 cm wide, with 3 major veins arising from the base; principal leaves with (15-) 20-70 leaflets.
..2 Carpels 3-8, on a stipe elongating to 5-8 mm long in fruit; flowering Jul-Sep; petiole of basal leaves with a deep, broad groove (ca. 1 mm wide and 1 mm deep), persistent on fully expanded leaves; roots with vascular tissue in lunate bundles arranged in a circle; [section Podocarpae]
..2 Carpels 1 (-3), sessile; flowering Apr-Aug; petiole of basal leaves terete, not grooved (or with a shallow, narrow groove early, obscure or absent on fully expanded leaves); roots with vascular tissue in a central (3-) 4 (-5)-armed cross or star; [section Actaea].
....3 Fruit dry, follicular, dehiscent; flowering May-Aug
....3 Fruit fleshy, indehiscent; flowering Apr-May.
......4 Fruiting pedicels thick, 1-2 mm in diameter; fruit white (rarely red); stigma wider than ovary (in flower); leaflets usually glabrous across the lower surface; [widespread in our area]
......4 Fruiting pedicels slender, 0.4-0.7 mm in diameter; fruit red (rarely white); stigma narrower than ovary (in flower); leaflets usually pubescent across the lower surface; [northern, south to NJ, PA, OH, IN, and IL]