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Close-up of white Goatsbeard flower (Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus). Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus) nicely planted along a narrow shady. Another stunning Pacific Northwest native plant available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants Nursery in Portland, Oregon.

Goatsbeard

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Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus

With an impressive array of landscape and ecological functions that will rival even your favorite ornamental plants, Goatsbeard is a must in your woodland or semi-shady habitat garden. It’s decorative finely-cut foliage emerges each year in April to create a bold, showy effect. Then, by early summer, Goatsbeard explodes into elegant plumes of tiny white flowers. With its arching feathery blooms, it's a lovely background, screen or border plant - but is also showy enough to hold center stage.

Goatbeard is also a superb habitat plant, attracting countless insect species, including native bees, syrphid flies, teeny tiny beetles, and — if you’re lucky — mourning cloak and Dusky Azure Butterflies (it’s host to the latter). Small birds can make use of the seeds if spent flowers are left to overwinter.

  • Plant type/canopy layer: deciduous perennial herbaceous plant
  • Size at maturity: 3-7' tall, 3-5' wide
  • Light requirements: full shade, part sun / part shade
  • Moisture requirements: moist soil
  • Growth rate/ease: moderate growth rate, easy to grow
  • Bloom time: May - August
  • Wildlife support: adult butterflies/nectar source, bees and other insect pollinators, beneficial insects/pest eating insects, caterpillar host plant/larval food source, hummingbirds (Oregon Flora Project)
  • Native habitat/range: Common throughout most areas of western OR, WA and northern CA including the Cascades along streams and in moist meadows and forests, but also sometimes in disturbed areas such as roadsides. Portland Plant List - yes.
  • Special features & uses: supports wildlife, including hummingbirds!

Gardening with Goatsbeard: Goatsbeard is a hardy perennial that dies back each winter, preparing to gorgeously return each spring. It’s tolerant of variable light and soil conditions but does particularly well in acidic soils with high organic matter. It does best with at least half-day shade, and tolerates sun provided the soil is moist enough. It spreads slowly by rhizomes to form attractive patches, so be sure to give it space to expand. Grow it with associates (those that naturally grow together and depend on each other), including Douglas-fir, western hemlock, western red cedar, vine maple, deer fern, maidenhair fern, inside-out flower, wild ginger, and western trillium. (Eileen M. Stark, Real Gardens Grow Natives)

 

Photo Credit 1: "Aruncus dioicus" by Joan Simon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit 2: "Aruncus dioicus" by MeganEHansen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo Credit 3: "Aruncus dioicus" by wallygrom is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0