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Aruncus dioicus is often confused with:
Astilbe biternata Flowers
Astilbe x arendsii Flowers
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Trillium erectum Flowers
Viola striata Viola striata
Viola canadensis Viola canadensis
Aruncus dioicus has some common insect problems:
Roseslug or Rose Sawfly

Bride’s-feathers Aruncus dioicus

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
ah-RUN-kus dye-oh-EE-kus
Description

Goat's beard is a native rhizomatous perennial in the Rosaceae (rose) family that is found in damp, fertile woods, and mountainous areas of Eurasia and the US and Canada.  The genus name Aruncus comes from the Greek word for goats beard.  Goat's beard grows to a bushy 3 to 6 foot tall plant that makes a bold statement in the garden.

Goat's beard prefers moist, fertile, organically rich soils that are not allowed to dry out in full sun to part shade.  In warmer regions it prefers partial shade.  It is best to give it protection from the hot afternoon sun in the southern portion of its growing range. Plant leaving 2 to 3 feet between plants, being aware it may take 2 to 3 seasons to fully mature.

It is dioecious meaning it has separate male and female plants. The flowers on the male plant are showier with numerous stamens per flower while the female flower has 3 stamens. The blooms are feathery and astilbe-like, with finger-like projections, growing to a foot long.  Some say the flowers resemble a goat's beard, hence the common name. Prune the plant back after it flowers to promote bushy growth.  Propagate this plant by seed or divide in the early spring leaving at least one eye per cut section.  .

The flowers attract pollinators like butterflies and bees.  Mass plant it in rain gardens, a cutting garden, along stream beds, or ponds. Place it at the back of a woodland perennial garden or along a slope where its showy flowers can be enjoyed from late spring to early summer.  

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems: Goat's beard has some susceptibility sawflies and leaf spot.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Child of Two Worlds’
    Short, sturdier
  • 'Glasnevin'
    Compact, from National Botanic Garden of Ireland
  • 'Hillside Gem'
    Finely divided leaves
  • ‘Kneiffii’
    Compact, less showy flowers
  • var. dioicus
‘Child of Two Worlds’, 'Glasnevin', 'Hillside Gem', ‘Kneiffii’, var. dioicus
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#water garden#rain garden#perennials#white flowers#wildlife plant#native perennials#slopes#rabbit resistant#mass planting#stream banks#fire medium flammability#NC native#Azure butterfly#summer flowers#deer resistant#cream flowers#bushy#ponds#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#flowers late spring#flowers mid-summer#larval host plant#food source summer#flowers early summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#border middle#unusual flowers#butterfly friendly#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#fruits mid-summer#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#woodland garden#dusky azure butterfly#fruits late summer#fruits early summer
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • ‘Child of Two Worlds’
    Short, sturdier
  • 'Glasnevin'
    Compact, from National Botanic Garden of Ireland
  • 'Hillside Gem'
    Finely divided leaves
  • ‘Kneiffii’
    Compact, less showy flowers
  • var. dioicus
‘Child of Two Worlds’, 'Glasnevin', 'Hillside Gem', ‘Kneiffii’, var. dioicus
Tags:
#full sun tolerant#water garden#rain garden#perennials#white flowers#wildlife plant#native perennials#slopes#rabbit resistant#mass planting#stream banks#fire medium flammability#NC native#Azure butterfly#summer flowers#deer resistant#cream flowers#bushy#ponds#border planting#cutting garden#spring interest#pollinator plant#native wildflower#wildflower garden#flowers late spring#flowers mid-summer#larval host plant#food source summer#flowers early summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#border middle#unusual flowers#butterfly friendly#Piedmont Mountains FACU#Coastal FACU#fruits mid-summer#partial shade tolerant#bee friendly#woodland garden#dusky azure butterfly#fruits late summer#fruits early summer
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Aruncus
    Species:
    dioicus
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used the ground root for various medical conditions.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North America, Eurasia, North Carolina
    Distribution:
    AK , AL , AR , CA , DC , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , SC , TN , VA , WA , WV
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant is a larval host to Dusky Azure (Celastrina nigra) the caterpillars of which will appear from April to May. Adult Dusky Azure butterflies feed on flower nectar from plants like wild geranium. It is the host plant for the Dusky Azure butterfly. Attracts birds and other pollinators.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    deer and rabbit damage
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Clumping
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    Tiny brown seed capsule from June to September on female plants with 2-4 seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    Separate male and female plants, males have shower flowers. Large 6" to 24" panicle of showy, plume-like clusters of small, creamy-white flowers which rise above the foliage from May to June. The flowers have five oval-shaped petals: the stamens have long, slender filaments.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The dark green bi-pinnately compound leaves are 2-3 feet long. Leaflets are 2 to 4 inches long, lanceolate with doubly-serrate margins, the lower leaves are larger than the upper leaves.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Pond
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Water Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits