Description & Overview

This dark, lustrous shade-tolerant native cultivar is a great addition to a partial or full shade garden. As almost-black leaved plants are more reveled at, let drought-tolerant Hillside Black Beauty speak for itself. Its clump-forming habit allows for dense low mounds of deep purple foliage to be 1-2′ tall which give way to late summer emerging flower stalks reaching up to 4-6′ in height, bearing astilbe-like creamy white with hints of blush spikes. May also be known as Bugbane.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: No - Variety of North American Native

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 4

Mature Height: 4-6 feet

Mature Spread: 2-4 feet

Growth Rate: Slow

Growth Form: Low mounding up right foliage, emerging flower stalks

Light Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade

Site Requirements: Average, well-drained soil, drought-tolerant

Flower: Tall creamy white, fragrant spikes

Bloom Period: August to October

Foliage: Deep purple fern-like foliage

Fall Color: Copper tones added

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Star-shaped clustered brown follicles

Suggested Uses

A unique and improved variety of the original plant species, this variety can be planted in a range of soil and light conditions. Adding Hillside Black Beauty to a perennial garden brings in dark tones and allows other, bright-colored plants to pop against it. Playing with the fine, fern-like leaf texture of this plant against broadleaf shade tolerant perennials creates a happy balance. Choose a location with moist, well-drained soil and partial shade to allow this plant to thrive.

Hillside Black Beauty makes a great perennial addition but isn’t limited to just that. Use outdoor pots and containers as the “thriller”.

This dark, lustrous shade-tolerant native cultivar is a great addition to a partial or full shade garden. As almost-black leaved plants are more revel…

Wildlife Value

The tall flower spikes that appear in late summer provide an attraction for butterflies and pollinators after many main flower sources for them have been spent for the season.

Maintenance Tips

Like the parent plant Actaea racemose, Hillside Black Beauty prefers to grow in soils with ample moisture in order to perform best, however it is drought tolerant. In deep shade the flower spikes will reach toward the sun, but it does not affect the flowering capabilities of this perennial. If drought occurs for an extended period, water thoroughly. Foliage can scorch if the soil is too dry for too long. Prune spent stalks back after flowering and/or fruiting occurs.

This dark, lustrous shade-tolerant native cultivar is a great addition to a partial or full shade garden. As almost-black leaved plants are more revel…

Pests/Problems

Resistant to most diseases and has no insect pests to note currently, leaving it relatively maintenance-free and versatile. Also known to be deer and rabbit resistant.
Rust and leaf spot may occur occasionally in persistently moist conditions, the best course of action is to allow the surrounding soil to dry out slightly. Commonly, the flower spikes will grow in the direction in which they receive the most light.

Leaf Lore

Formerly listed as Cimicifuga simplex. Also known as a Black Cohosh. Interchangeable with the common names baneberry or bugbane. All plants under genus Cimicifuga have recently been transferred to Actaea.

This cultivar allows for more versatile use in a different range of garden designs, from cottage feel to stately. Its smaller stature also creates more use than straight species, Actaea racemosa.

Companion Plants

Combine in a landscape bed with bright colored shrubs or perennials like Lemony Lace Elderberry, All Gold Japanese Forest Grass, or Island Breeze Hosta. Providing an architectural accent against a solid background, plant in front of Spikenard, Pagoda Dogwood, or at the base of Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry. Suitable for use in a rock garden with Christmas Fern, Sensitive Fern, or Japanese Painted Fern.

This dark, lustrous shade-tolerant native cultivar is a great addition to a partial or full shade garden. As almost-black leaved plants are more revel…
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Written by Johnson's Nursery