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Appalachian False Goat's Beard, False Goatsbeard, - Astilbe biternata


Family: Saxifragaceae - Saxifrage family Genus Common Name: Goat's beard Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Astilbe biternata - Appalachian False Goat's Beard, False Goatsbeard, . Astilbe biternata is one of two native Astilbe species in North America. Astilbe crenatiloba, as indicated by the common name Roan Mountain False Goat's Beard, has been found only in Carter County, TN on Roan Mountain. It may be extinct because there appear to be no reports of it since the original collection in 1885. Flora of North America indicates that it might have been a local variety rather than a separate species. A. crenatiloba had crenate, rounded teeth rather than the sharp, serrate teeth of Astilbe biternata. There is also an introduced escapee species, Astilbe japonica which may have established itself in the wild in New York and Rhode Island.

Astilbe biternata is a plant of mountain cove forests in the Appalachians from Maryland and Virginia south to Georgia, although some authorities do not list its presence in Maryland.

Found in:
GA, KY, MD, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV
Astilbe biternata

Distribution of Astilbe biternata in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Sep 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Polk County, TN Date: 2004-May-31Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Sony Cybershot
Apologies for the poor photo; I haven't run across this plant since I took the photo in 2004. This was one of the early wildflowers I photographed and identified.

Appalachian False Goatsbeard tiny white flowers with the inflorescence appearing like white plumes at the top of the plant. In this case the plant was on a hillside and it was hanging over the trail. The flowers each have 10 stamens. (Similar appearing Aruncus dioicus has 15-20 stamens.) I have seen reports that Astilbe biternata is monoecious, and other reports that it is dioecious, and don't know from personal examination. It will have 2 pistils; Aruncus dioicus has 3. A key diagnostic is the terminal leaflet on the compound leaf; usually lobed in Astilbe biternata, usually unlobed in Aruncus dioicus.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Astilbe biternata

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer