FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Aruncus dioicus is a stately clump-forming wildflower for moist shady sites. Leaves are dark green and compound with sharply toothed leaflets. Frothy cream-colored flower plumes emerge in summer. Plants are bushy and up to 6’ tall when in bloom.
HABITAT & HARDINESS: Plants occur in the cooler parts of Europe, Asia and North America. In North America range extends from Alaska south to California. In the Eastern United States range extends from Maine to Georgia and west to Wisconsin and Oklahoma. The common habitats are damp open woods close to pools or creeks.
Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 3-7.
PLANT DESCRIPTION: This is a dense shrub-like perennial with leaves that are two or three times compound. The serrate leaflets are around 2-5” long and the fern-like compound leaves can develop nice yellow fall color.
In early to mid-summer, plants produce showy plume-like flowers that rise well above the foliage. The large terminal panicles contain tiny cream colored florets with either “male” or “female” parts. The flowers are particularly beautiful in the late afternoon light.
Plants typically grow 4-6' tall with a 2-4’ spread.
CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDS: Aruncus dioicus is happy in part sun or dappled shade.
Plants need a well drained or moist soil. They will survive short periods of drought but may develop brown edged leaves.
Plants are resistant to insect pests and the foliage is usually not palatable to deer or rabbits.
LANDSCAPE USES: This perennial is a wonderful plant for layering at the back of a Perennial Border or beneath taller trees in the Shade Garden. Plants are used as Accents, Butterfly Nectar Plants, Butterfly Host Plants or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting. Aruncus dioicus provides Fall Color and Showy Blooms and is often an element of Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders and Wildlife Gardens.
COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS: Aruncus dioicus can serve as a nice backdrop for shade loving wildflowers like Heuchera americana, Phlox divaricata, Spigelia marilandica, Dicentra examina and Iris cristata. It also mingles nicely with woodland ferns like Osmunda cinnamomea, Athyrium filix-femina and Polystichum acrostichoides.
If a substitute is needed Veronicastrum viginicum can provide similar visual effects in sites that have part shade or part sun.
TRIVIA: Aruncus dioicus is a member of the Rose Family and is sometimes known as Bride’s Feathers.
Throngs of tiny pollinators like moths, flower flies, butterflies and beetles flock to the flowers. The nectar is particularly attractive to Mourning Cloak Butterflies.
Plants are hosts to the Dusky Azure Butterfly Caterpillar.
Received the Royal Horticulture Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Plants are dioecious so the pistillate (female) flowers and the staminate (male) flowers occur on different plants. Each of the pistillate florets has 5 small petals and the entire feathery panicle is greenish. The staminate florets have clusters of pollen laden stamens and the entire inflorescence is white. The staminate inflorescence is larger and most people seem to think that it is the more attractive of the two.
Birds forage for the seed that forms on pistillate plants.
For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARDI8