Actaea 'Chocoholic'

Common Name: bugbane 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Ranunculaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Mauve-pink
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Colorful


Plants generally perform best in rich, fertile, humusy, evenly moist but well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Plants should be sited in locations sheltered from strong winds. Foliage tends to scorch and otherwise depreciate if soils are allowed to dry out or if plants are sited in full sun areas. This is a slow-to-establish plant which, if left undisturbed in optimum growing conditions, can slowly naturalize.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Actaea is a genus of about 8 species of spreading woodland herbaceous perennials from temperate regions of North America. They are good plants for woodland gardens as well as shady flower borders with their showy terminal flowers and berries albeit the berries are highly toxic if eaten.

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

'Chocoholic' was discovered by Marco van Noort in Warmond, The Netherlands in 2001 as a seedling of Cimicifuga 'Brunette' (now Actaea) from seed collected in 1999. The plant was propagated asexually through division of the rhizome. It has dark bronze-purple, moderately glossy foliage with red tinting and dark pink flower buds. Its arching spikes of sweetly-fragrant, bottlebrush flowers are mauve-pink and lighten to white as they age. 'Chocoholic' has an upright habit and grows 3 to 4 ft. tall and 2.5 to 3 ft. wide. It is also known as Cimicifuga 'Chocoholic'. United States Plant Patent PP#24,821 awarded August 26, 2014.


No serious insect or disease problems. Rust and leaf spot are occasional problems. Foliage generally does not need staking, but taller flower spikes may need some support (ring stakes can be helpful). Flower spikes 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. Bronze-purple foliage provides excellent texture and color to the landscape throughout the growing season.