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Aruncus dioicus (Bride's feathers)
Cressler, Alan

Aruncus dioicus

Aruncus dioicus (Walter) Fernald

Bride's Feathers, Goat's Beard

Rosaceae (Rose Family)


USDA Symbol: ardi8

USDA Native Status: L48 (NI), AK (N), CAN (N)

This species includes botanical varieties that are North American natives. However, it also includes botanical varieties that are not native to North America, e.g. Aruncus dioicus var. vulgaris, Bride's Feathers. Non-native taxa are not treated in this database.

Bride’s-feathers or goat’ beard is an imposing perennial, 3-5 ft tall. The stems bear several twice- or thrice-pinnately compound leaves, the segments prominently toothed. The large, feathery clusters of small, white flowers are reminiscent of astilbes. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants, the staminate being more attractive.

Aruncus, from the Greek aryngos ("goat’s beard"), refers to the showy, finger-like flower clusters, which form feathery masses of all male or all female flowers. The species occurs around the Northern Hemisphere. The western plants once comprised a separate species, known as A. sylvester, among other names. Classification is still unsettled; some botanists consider western plants to be the variety pubescens, others consider them to be the variety acuminatus. The very similar False Goatsbeard (Astilbe biternata), of the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae), has a lobed terminal leaflet on each leaf and two pistils.


From the Image Gallery

27 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Margin: Dentate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Flower: Flower clusters 6 to 24 inches long.
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Male plants have showier flowers.


USA: AK , AL , AR , CA , DC , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , SC , TN , VA , WA , WV
Canada: AB , BC
Native Distribution: PA and IA, south to NC, AL, & AR
Native Habitat: Damp, fertile woods, mountainous areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium , High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Average to acid, mesic to moist soil.
Conditions Comments: Tolerates seasonal flooding. Needs a lot of space.


Use Ornamental: Good for large-scale displays of white blooms in spring and summer, such as massed in a drift down a slope.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Dusky Azure

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Dusky Azure
(Celastrina nigra)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Propagation Material: Root Division , Seeds
Description: Propagate by division or seed.
Seed Collection: Ripens one month after blooming, female plants only.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native shade plants around fountain in California
March 18, 2009
Hi, we just put a fountain in our front yard. It is in a mostly shady area. I need to know what plants would go best around the fountain and survive in the shade.
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Aruncus dioicus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Aruncus dioicus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Aruncus dioicus


Record Modified: 2022-03-09
Research By: TWC Staff

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