Content Detail

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.

  • Family (English) Buttercup
  • Family (botanic) Ranunculaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily), Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances clay soil, Wet sites
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Mounded, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate


Fall bugbane grows in mounds of lacy, three-segmented leaves that send up 4 to 5 feet high flower stalks

Attracts birds and pollinators:

Birds and butterflies are attracted to the scent of this perennial.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to Russia, Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

Leaf description:

Deeply cut leaves are 1 to 4 inches long, compound, and divided into three segments.

Flower description:

Flowers are long racemes of candle-like spikes of white flowers with a slightly fragrance. Flowers open in late summer and persist for three to four weeks.

Fruit description:

Fruit are dehiscent capsules and seed pods can be left for winter interest.

Plant care:

Best grown in light to medium shade in slightly acidic soil with lots of organic matter. This plant benefits from 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

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

This perennial can suffer from leaf spots and rust, but is deer and rabbit resistant.

Black Negligee bugbane (Actaea simplex ‘Black Negligee’):

This cultivar grows 4 to 5 feet high and 18 to 24 inches wide with dark purplish-black foliage and purplish-tinged flowers. 

Brunette bugbane (Actaea simplex ‘Brunette):

This cultivar grows 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide with coppery-bronze foliage and white flower spikes.

Hillside Black Beauty (Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’):

This plant grows 4 to 6 feet high and 2 to 4 feet wide with purple-black foliage and white flowers.

Pink Spike bugbane (Actaea simplex ‘Pink Spike’):

This variety grows 3 foot stems. Its foliage is chocolate-purple.

White Pearl bugbane (Actaea simplex ‘White Pearl’): 

This plant grows 3 to 4 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide with white flower spikes in late summer.


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