This section is from the book "Handbook Of Hardy Trees, Shrubs, And Herbaceous Plants", by W. Botting Hemsley. Also available from Amazon: Handbook of hardy trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants.
Tall branching herbs with triternate leaves and membranaceous stipules, having the aspect of some Spiraeas, and very near them in structure; but differing in the stamens not exceeding 8 or 10, and the carpels 3, and the numerous albuminous seeds. The few species known are from the Himalayas, Java, Japan, and North-eastern America. The name is derived from a privative and brilliancy, in allusion to the inconspicuous flowers of some of the species.
1. A. barbata, syn. A. Japonica, Hoteia barbata, H. Japonica, Spiraea barbata and S. Japonica. - The latter is the name it usually bears in gardens, though it does not belong to that genus. This is a very handsome plant, and now very extensively cultivated. It grows about 18 inches or 2 feet high, with triternate or pinnate leaves on long petioles. Leaflets serrated, bearded with rufous bristly hairs, especially on the joints of the petiolules, hence the specific name. The flowers are small, pure white, in large branching racemose panicles; branches red. It blooms in the open air towards the end of May; but its chief value is for forcing for conservatory and window decoration. A native of Nepal and Japan.
Two or three other species are less frequently grown: A. decandra, about two feet high, with biternate leaves and white flowers, from Carolina; A. rivularis, with reddish flowers, from Nepal. Heuchera, Mitella, and Tiarella are allied genera of less interest, with rose or white flowers.