Thursday, September 6, 2012
The False Spiraea
Species name: Astilbe chinensis var. taquetti
Common name: false spiraea, false goat's beard
Based on the Latin name of this species, you should be able to guess where this plant is native! There are some native species of Astilbe, but very few of them are grown in cultivation for ornamental use. Chances are, if you've ever seen a member of the genus, this is the one you've seen. Other native species aren't necessarily uncommon, but you have to know what you're looking for and where to look or else it would be a lost cause.
One of the most desirable characteristics of this plant is the list of undesirable characteristics to gardeners: ... And that would be none. This plant survives wet soil, dry soil, sandy soil, clay soil, loamy soil, high nutrients, low nutrients, full sun, part sun, full shade, being peed on by just about anything, suffers from very few bacterial, viral and fungal diseases, and won't be eaten by deer because of the small thorns on the undersides of the leaves and stem. It's unfortunate that we can't all fall in love with the native species, which not only have many if not all of these characteristics but are also native!