Botanical Name and Pronunciation:
Astilbe x arendsii (a-STIL-bee x ah-RENDZ-ee-ee)
False Spiraea, False Goat’s Beard
deep red, white, salmon pink, pink, rosy purple
Form and Size:
The stems of astilbe are usually leafy and 18 – 24 inches in height, with tiny flowers on a pyramidal shaped stem.
2 – 8 days, sometimes longer
Remove any leaves at the bottom of the stem, cut under water and place in fresh water with flower food.
History and Usage:
In her book 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names, Diana Wells tells about Pere Armand David, the French Lazarist monk who discovered astilbe in China. She says that in 1860 French and British gunboats secured a treaty from the Chinese allowing exploration of their country and permitting Christian missionaries to work in China. Pere David was sent to China to establish a school for a hundred boys in Peking, but because he was such an ardent and successful botanist he was released from his duties in order to collect plants. Wells writes that Pere David sent thousands of specimens back to Paris, but that only about one-third of them survived. The beautiful Buddleia davidii, also known as the Butterfly Bush, is named after Pere David. Pere Delavay and Pere Soulie, other French priests who worked as botanists in China, also have flowers named after them, including an iris, a lily and a rhododendron. In Greek, astilbe means “without brilliance” which refers to the inconspicuous and small flowers that adorn its stems. It can also refer to the original flowers in China, which were not very showy.
Points of Interest:
Common relatives of astilbe include hydrangea, bergenia, tiarella and heuchera. The x in the botanical name of astilbe means that it is a cross of species.