Goat’s Beard

Common Name: Goat’s Beard[1]

Scientific Name: Aruncus dioicus

Description: Herbaceous, North American perennial; creamy white flowers are borne in loose, pyramidal panicles to 20 inches in early and midsummer; fern-like, medium green foliage

Size: Clump forming plant grows 4-6 feet high and 2-4 feet wide; dramatic in back of flower borders

Cultural Information: Prefers moist, fertile, humus-rich loam and full to partial shade

USDA Zones: 3 through 8

Historical Notes: This species is native from Europe to Eastern Siberia as well as Eastern North America. Philadelphia nurseryman and plant explorer John Bartram listed it by its former name, Spiraea aruncus—Indian Pipestem, in his catalog of 1783 and, in 1806, Bernard McMahon, also from Philadelphia, included the "Spiraea Aruncus—Goat’s-beard Spiraea" among his catalog of hardy perennials.[2] Aruncus is dioecious, and the flowers of female plants are more greenish-white than the males.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. The American Gardener’s Calendar, 1806 (Charlottesville: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1997), 606.

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