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Astilbe biternata

Astilbe biternata (Vent.) Britton

 

False Goatsbeard

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderRosalesRose family and eight others
FamilySaxifragaceaeSaxifrage family; means “stone-breaking”
GenusAstilbeGreek for “not shining”
SpeciesbiternataRefers to doubly-divided leaves

About plant names...

False goatsbeard is so named because it bears an uncanny resemblance to “real” goatsbeard, Aruncus dioicus. Both names refer to the flower masses, whose shape somewhat resembles a goat’s beard. False goatsbeard is native to North America, and prefers shady habitats and damp soil.

Plants: Plants are 24-72" (60-182 cm) high, and dioecious, having separate male and female plants.

Leaves: Bright green, coarse, up to 24" (60 cm) long, bipinnate or tripinnate, with ovate leaflets. Leaflets are 3-6" (8-15 cm) × 1½-6" (4-15 cm). Leaf edges are toothed: sharply serrate to crenate. The terminal leaflet has three lobes.

Flowers: Long, thin, feathery cream-colored or yellowish sprays of tiny florets, like white fireworks displays. Florets have 5 petals, and ten stamens. Blooms appear from late spring to early summer.

Fruits: Fruits usually have two carpels, and are ~⅛" (3.5-4 mm) in size.

These species are closely similar, so much so that they are often cited as prime examples of convergent evolution. They prefer the same habitats and are often found growing side-by-side:

 

Astilbe biternata (False Goatsbeard)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 14 × 21" (34 × 52 cm)

Astilbe biternata (False Goatsbeard)

5/22/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 14 × 21" (34 × 52 cm)

 
Aruncus dioicus var. dioicus
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Astilbe biternata
Common Name

Goatsbeard

False Goatsbeard
Plant In clumps several feet around. Thin, stiff stems support leaf clusters topped by showy sprays of white flowers. 24-72" (60-182 cm) high, and dioecious.
Flowers Long, thin, feathery cream-colored sprays of tiny florets. Male flowers are somewhat more showy. Each floret has 15-20 stamens and 3-5 pistils. Long, thin, feathery cream-colored or yellowish sprays of tiny florets, like white fireworks displays. Florets have 5 petals, and ten stamens. Blooms appear from late spring to early summer.
Leaves Bipinnate or tripinnate, with 20 or more toothed (dentate), opposite, oval leaflets. Individual leaflets are 1-5" (2.5-12 cm) long. Bright green, coarse, up to 24" (60 cm) long, bipinnate or tripinnate, with ovate leaflets. Leaflets are 3-6" (8-15 cm) × 1½-6" (4-15 cm). The terminal leaflet has three lobes.
Fruit Female plants produce three carpels with tiny brown seed capsules. Usually have two carpels, and are ~⅛" (3.5-4 mm) in size.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-8

USDA Zones: 5-8
Habitats Moist wooded areas, fields, roadsides, and waste areas. Shady habitats and damp soil.
Type Wild Wild

 

Online References:

Astilbe biternata on Discover Life

Astilbe biternata on plants.ces.ncsu.edu

Astilbe biternata at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Astilbe biternata on Wildflowers of the United States

Astilbe biternata on eFloras

Astilbe biternata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 11 Jul 2019.

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Range: Zones 5-8:

About this map...