Goat’s Beard

This perennial is cold hardy, settles in easily and plays well with others.

goat's beard

Photo: brewbooks (flickr)

Goat's beard.

My garden is so full of plants that the easiest and safest thing for me to buy now is a plant with white flowers, which will combine with anything it happens to end up next to in a mixed planting.

So this fall I added more aruncus dioicus, commonly called goat’s beard.

Fortunately it is a lot more attractive than the common name for it would suggest! It is a shrub-like plant, native to North America, and grows up to six feet tall with a spread of four feet. However, there is a dwarf variety available for small gardens.

The members of the aruncus species have tiny individual flowers in branched clusters. The flowers are held above mounds of feathery leaves. Aruncus plants like rich, evenly moist soil and shade from the heat of the day in summer. So they are plants for wet spots and stream banks. If their leaves look crisp and brown in summer, it is a sign that they need more moisture.

They make graceful additions to a woodland garden and are not attractive to deer. Use them en masse if you have the room or place them as accents. Think about places you could use their creamy white flowers to harmonize with plantings you already have. This perennial is cold hardy, settles in easily and plays well with others.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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