A graceful member of the Rose family, Goats Beard grows freely in the Pacific Northwest including all of Vancouver Island. It’s a beautiful flowering plant.
Many Pacific Northwest Native Americans used Goats beard medicinally. The Olympic Peninsula’s Klallam tribe made a salve of root ashes to rub on sores. The Quinault and Quileute tribe’s people made a poultice from scraped roots to apply to sores. The Makahs made an infusion from the roots for rheumatism and a dye out of the roots. The Skagit peoples used the perennial as an infusion of roots for sore throats, as well as for sores. As a cure for smallpox, the Lummi people chewed the leaves. The Kwakiutl from British Columbia soaked the root and held it in the mouth for coughs, and used it as a love charm. The Nitinat from Vancouver Island, B.C., made an infusion from pounded roots for fevers
The male plants bear creamy white, showier flowers, while the female plants produce a smaller, greenish to white flower. Goat’s beard spreads from underground runners, albeit slowly, so it is not a problem. Include this plant in your native wildlife garden because it provides nectar for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Goats beard, also sometimes called Bride’s feathers, is a member of the rose family found in moist woodlands of Europe, northern Asia, and North America. In the woodlands, it usually grows as randomly spaced individuals and not in large colonies.
Goats beard grows as a herbaceous perennial reaching 1.5 to 2 m tall with a similar spread given enough time and good growing conditions. It has twice, or thrice pinnately compound leaves reaching a foot or more in length with leaflets 5 to 7.5 cm long. It develops a modest display of yellow leaves in the fall. In late spring and early summer, white, finger-like trusses of flowers in terminal clusters to 0.4 m or more in length. Blooms look like those of astilbe, only larger. Females have more slender and open florets and are not as show as male plants. Male flowers also persist longer in the garden, usually providing a better display.