HARALD RIEDL and YASIN J. NASIR
Actaea spicata x nigra L.
Perennial erect herb, 30-71(-75) cm high. Rootstock thick, ± creeping, producing a terminal flowering stem every year, rarely with several stems at the same time, leaves 2(-3) pinnate, a single basal leaf present in the young plant, later with cauline leaves; ovate to ovate-lanceolate, acute, acuminate, irregularly dentate to ± regularly serrate-dentate; glabrous or slightly hairy along the veins on the lower surface. Inflorescence arranged in an oblong to ovoid raceme, which may become shortly cylindrical after flowering. Sepals small, white rarely purplish outside, concave. Petals (nectarines, called staminodes by some authors) shorter than the ovary or slightly longer, ovate to elliptical or spathulate, acute or obtuse. Berry black.
Fl. Per: July-August.
Type locality: In European forests.
Distribution: Europe, extra-tropical Asia.
In Pakistan it is found in the N.W. regions from 2000-3300 in. Common in mesophytic forest, often with Aconitum leave. English name: Baneberry.
The plants growing in Pakistan, India and the Himalaya have been recognized as a distinct species, [A. acuminata Wallich, Cat. 4726(1824)-(nomen) Royle, III. Bot. Himal. Mount. 1:57:1899 (Shipchinskii in Komarov, Fl. URSS 7:80.1937)]. It seems better to follow Huth, l.c. who designated the rank of a forma to the taxon as A. spicata L.f. acuminata Huth [in Engl., Bot. Jahrb. 16:308.1893, Type: Wall. 4726, K]. According to Shipchinskii, the main difference is of the cordate-acuminate leaflets, more slender fruiting pedicels, and nectaries which are shorter than the ovary, thick and rounded at the apex. According to my own observations in plants from Pakistan, the leaflets are lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, ± regularly serrate-dentate. Fruiting pedicels are very thick, the shape and length of the nectaries are variable. The same characters, which are not always clearly seen can be found in plants from various parts of Europe, though they are less common than those specimens with broader and very irregularly dentate leaflets. Geographical as well as morphological data seem to indicate intermediates between the two extremes, and therefore do not justify separation on a higher level.