It is a steep north hillside where the oaks stand tall and small crisp ferns grow. Alter the hepatieas and bloodroot and dutchman's breeches bloom in April, there is little other bloom on that cold north slope until late May and early June, and then something wonderful happens. The wild spiraea, the goafs-beard, blossoms.
Aruncus dioicus (Walt.) Fern.
May - June Steep wooded hills.
The botany books call it goafs-beard, but a name like that cannot justly describe the magnificent branching spikes of palest cream-colored fuzzy flowers blossoming plumes which stand three feet tall above the low, bushy, compact plants. Goat's-beard is in bloom on the side of the hill, and for a while the hillside is lit with a special glory of its own.
Goaf's-beard is one of the Rose family, but the family resemblance is not as obvious in the fluffy, fuzzy Spiraeas and Aruncus as they are in the more obvious strawberry and cinquefoil. Nevertheless, the Large compound Leaves easily could be large compound rose leaves; the characteristics of the flower mechanisms are there, too.
The goat's-beard is fragrant, much as the cultivated Astilbe is. Goafs-beard Looks Like a tall, loose-flowered Astilbe and as such is worthy of a place not only in the woods but in gardens everywhere. This tall plant is typical of moist ravines and hillsides and is closely associated with wild hydrangea.