Actaea dahurica
Common Name: bugbane 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Native Range: Asia
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Cream white
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Cut


Easily grown in average, medium moisture soils in part shade to full shade. Prefers humusy, organically rich, moisture-retentive soils. Foliage tends to scorch and otherwise depreciate if soils are allowed to dry out. Best sited in locations sheltered from strong winds. This is a slow-to-establish plant.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Actaea dahurica is an upright perennial that features ferny, deeply-cut, deep green, 2-3 ternate leaves on branched stems which form a foliage clump typically growing to 3-4’ tall. Similar in appearance to Actaea racemosa, except the leaflets of C. dahurica have heart-shaped bases. Flower stems rise well above the foliage clump to a height of 5-6’ and feature terminal, bottlebrush-like racemes of fragrant, fluffy, creamy white flowers. Flowers are mildly fragrant. Blooms in late summer to early autumn. Synonymous with and formerly known as Cimicifuga dahurica. All plants in the genus Cimicifuga have recently been transferred to the genus Actaea.

Genus name is the Latin name adopted by Linnaeus from Pliny.

Specific epithet refers to the region of Dahuria in south-east Siberia and north-east Mongolia.

The common name of bugbane is in reference to the odoriferous insect repellant properties of this plant.


No serious insect or disease problems. Rust and leaf spot are occasional problems. Foliage generally does not need staking, but taller flower spires may need some support. Flower spires tend to bend toward bright light, particularly when plants are grown in substantial shade. Leaf margins may brown up (scorch) and growth may slow down if soils are not kept consistently moist.


Adds architectural height and late summer bloom to a shaded part of the border or shade garden. Also effective in woodland gardens, cottage gardens and naturalized areas. Best in groups, although single plants have good specimen value once established. White flower spires are generally more demonstrative in front of darker backgrounds. Deep green foliage provides excellent texture and color to the landscape throughout the growing season.