How is it that the 2 leading common names of Aruncus dioicus are Goat’s Beard and Bride’s Feathers? Apparently plants can be a sort of Rorschach test, reflecting great variations in perception within the human psyche.
For myself, I can see Goat’s Beard – though it would have to be a fairly elegant goat with beard hairs both fluffy and snowy white. Admittedly, none of the goats I have ever met personally could be described as elegant. But Bride’s Feathers? First of all, what sort of bride has feathers? A bird bride, I suppose.
In any case, Goat’s Beard is a useful woodland perennial, native from Pennsylvania to Iowa and across much of the upper south. It brings forth feathery plumes of tiny white flowers in early summer, after most woodland plants have finished blooming.
It’s a substantial plant, up to 5′ tall, with the presence of a small- to medium-sized shrub. The dried seed heads remain attractive, and in moist shade the foliage stays dark green into fall.
In our garden it makes a good specimen plant. I suppose a row of them could make a low herbaceous hedge. It is a host plant for the Dusky Azure Butterfly.
So what would you call it – Goat’s Beard or Bride’s Feathers? And would you grow it in your garden, if you had some reasonably moist shade?