Fall bugbane is a late blooming perennial with mounds of lacy, shiny leaves that send up 4 to 5 foot high flower spikes of fragrant, white flowers. A great plant for shady moist sites.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Large plant (more than 24 inches)
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Wet sites,
- Clay soil
Season of Interest:
- Mid summer,
- Late summer,
- Early fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Mounds of lacy, 3-segmented leaves that send up 4 to 5 feet high flower stalks
Best in light to medium shade in slightly acidic soil with lots of organic matter
Plants benefit with a couple of inches of mulch to moderate soil temperature and conserve moisture
Fertilize in spring with a balanced fertilizer
In windy sites, flower stalk may need to be staked for support
Deadhead old flower spikes or leave to add winter interest
Bugbanes do not normally need winter protection
Disease, pests, and problems
Leaf spots and rust
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Deer and rabbit resistant
Attracts birds and pollinators
Birds and butterflies are attracted to the scent
Native geographic location and habitat
Russia, Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan
Deeply cut leaves are 1-4 inches long; compound and divided into 3 segments
Long racemes of candle-like spikes of white flowers; slightly fragrant
Flowers open in late summer and persist for 3 to 4 weeks.
A dehisent capsule. Seepods can be left for winter interest.
Cultivars and their differences
Black Negligee bugbane (Actaea simplex 'Black Negligee'): 4 to 5 feet high and 18 to 24 inches wide; dark purplish-black foliage and purplish-tinged flowers.
Brunette bugbane (Actaea simplex 'Brunette): 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide; coppery-bronze foliage; white flower spikes
Hillside Black Beauty (Actaea simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty'): 4 to 6 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide; purple-black foliage; white flowers
Pink Spike bugbane (Actaea simplex 'Pink Spike'): 3 to 5 feet high and 1 to 2 feet wide; raspberry pink buds open to pale pink, scented flowers on black stems; foliage is chocolate-purple.
White Pearl bugbane (Actaea simplex 'White Pearl'): 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide; white flower spikes in late summer.