Goats Beard, Aruncus dioicus

Goats Beard

Aruncus dioicus

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Moist, Medium, Wet
Color: White
Fragrance: No
Height: 3 - 6 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Description

Goats Beard (Aruncus dioicus) occurs in moist woodlands and along bluffs. A tall, erect, bushy, clump-forming plant typically growing 4-6 feet high which features pinnately compound, dark green foliage and showy, plume-like spikes of tiny, cream colored flowers which rise well above the foliage in early to mid summer, creating a bold effect. This rose family member is somewhat similar in appearance to astilbe. Dioecious (separate male and female plants) as the species name suggests. Plants with male flowers (numerous stamens per flower) produce a showier bloom than plants with female flowers (three pistils per flower).

The flowers, which make good cut flowers, are at their peak for about 10 days. Female plants produce tiny brown seed capsules, which are poisonous. After flowering the plumes turn tan or light brown above the 3-4 foot mounds of dark green, pinnately compound leaves. Each leaf has 20 or more toothed oval leaflets.

Best grown in moist, fertile, organically rich soils in full sun to part shade. Foliage decline can occur rapidly if soils are permitted to dry out. With consistent moisture, it performs well in full sun in the northern portions of its growing range. It prefers part shade in the southern part of its growing range. Removing faded flower stalks will not prolong bloom, but may improve plant appearance, particularly if a ground cover look is desired. On the other hand, flower stalks on female plants may be left in place to enjoy the continuing ornamental effect of the dried seed plumes. Plants can be slow to establish.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Tall growing plants are excellent background plant for shady, moist spots
   Native Americans used the ground root as a poultice for bee stings, to reduce bleeding after childbirth and an infusion of the leaves was used as a soak for tired, swollen feet.
Further Information

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Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries