Plant Profile: Astilbe biternata-American Astilbe

Astilbe biternata

Though it comes as a surprise to most gardeners, even native plant enthusiasts, there is an Astilbe species native to Eastern United States, Astilbe biternata. Horticultural guru Alan Armitage considers it “one of the most underutilized plants, native or not, in American gardening…”. It is a strikingly bold, coarse-textured, 3-6’ tall plant. Hundreds of small, creamy-white flowers are borne in feathery pyramidal panicles late spring into early summer.

At home in reasonably moist woodland soil, this plant rewards with attention getting color in the woodland/shade garden well after the riot of spring ephemerals has passed. The reason this outstanding plant is so unfamiliar is that it rarely available. For those seeking a novel and visually prominent addition to their plant collection, this is a “must” opportunity.

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