Goatsbeard, Aruncus sylvester k

Goatsbeard in bloom, photographer Ken Duvett

Goatsbeard derives it's name from the large white flower-panicles which, as the flower matures, become very plumy, bending from the weight of the flowers to resemble a white beard.  Aruncus in Greek means a goat's beard and sylvester means woodland.  By summer this stately plant will reach heights of 5 to 7 feet tall and grows as a solitary plant or in large colonies clinging to rock crevices and woodlands where it can find some sunlight and water.  There are several scenic backroad drives in the Darrington area where Goatsbeard grows in profusion.  As the flowers mature they turn a creamy-white, then will drop their abundance of seeds to the forest floor.

Goatsbeard emerging from the ground in early springtime, photographer Martha Rasmussen

Goatsbeard is an abundant sturdy perennial which changes season by season. In early to mid-spring the shoots will begin to appear about the same time the Trillium begins to bloom. These tender shoots bear striking red stems, with glossy green toothed leaves tinged with red veins.

Goatsbeard seeds hanging on through wintertime, photographer Martha Rasmussen

The seeds of the Goatsbeard are an important food source for birds.  These stout golden seed-heads  hang on through the winter and often well into spring.  It is because of its extended seasonal interest and profusion of flowers that Goatsbeard has a long history as a cherished specimen for the gardener throughout the world and botanical conservatories.  Goatsbeard in bloom is common to see on most scenic forest drives and hiking trails.