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Buck's-beard

Aruncus dioicus

  • Name also: Bride’s Feathers, Bride’s Feathers, Spaghetti Flower, Goats Beard, Goat’s Beard, Goatsbeard Spiraea. (There is another species with the same English name, written here Goat’s-beard (Tragopogon pratensis). It comes from the Dandelion family.)
  • Family: Rose Family – Rosaceae
  • Growing form: Perennial herb. Vertical, rhizomatous.
  • Height: 0.8–1.5 m (32–60 in.). Many-stemmed. Stem unbranched.
  • Flower: Dioecious (male and female flowers on different individuals). Corolla regular (actinomorphic), yellowish white, approx. 5 mm (0.2 in.) wide; petals 5. Calyx 5-lobed. Stamens many. Gynoecium separate, pistils several. Inflorescence a conical compound raceme.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked. Blade biternate or triternate. Leaflets ovate, very tapered, with doubly serrated margins, virtually glabrous. Small leaflets intermixed with large ones.
  • Fruit: Glabrous, 3 mm (0.12 in.) long, pendent capsule.
  • Habitat: Urban woods, roadsides, waste ground. Ornamental, sometimes an escape.
  • Flowering time: July.

Buck’s-beard is a commonly cultivated perennial in Finland and the best known species in the genus. The species is one of the most handsome parts of the perennial bed: its leaves are large and it has an abundance of flowers. In the autumn it still has an impressive, autumnal yellow colour.

Buck’s-beard is very adaptable, and some of its geographic forms are regarded as being their own species. The dioecious plant’s male and female individuals look clearly different from each other. The male plant’s white, quite sparse flowers are to many people more beautiful, while the female plant’s flowers are a more greenish yellow and they are more compact. The male plant is impressive even after it blooms because the flowers do not go brown and ugly. If there is only one gender in the growing area, seeds will not form, but buck’s-beard can also spread organically. If both genders are present, seed shoots begin to appear all over the place. Buck’s-beard doesn’t need much help after it has settled in – actually it grows best when it is left in peace. It is spread across almost the whole of the northern hemisphere, so it’s no wonder that it thrives in Finland with no extra attention. Large plants in particular can fend for themselves long after the garden they were part of has disappeared. Their favoured habitat is rich, loamy damp soil, preferable in semi-shade. It can stand sunshine as long as the soil remains damp.

The form of buck’s-beard’s flowers makes it look somewhat similar to genus Astilbe plants, but these are in fact members of a completely different family, the Saxifrage family. Of the Rose family it is perhaps most reminiscent of meadowsweet, at least in Finland.

Other species from the same family
Trees and bushes from the same family

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