This group of plants is at home in temperate climates throughout the world and despite the broad distribution only a limited range of bugbane relatives that have arisen.
The common name derives from the property of the plant products that drives away bedbugs, and that is the meaning of its Latin name Cimicifuga. Unfortunately this is accompanied by poisonous activity, which tends to keep it out of gardens where children and pets might get involved. Medicinal uses are a consequence of this property too. The plant is sometimes included in the Actaea family and then usually known as Actaea simplex.
Putting those caveats aside, it is a very impressive perennial, with its profusion of purple foliage throughout the growing season that is topped with five to six-foot tall flower spikes in white tinged with purple in the early fall. Zones 4-7S/9W. It likes moist well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade, though it should be shaded from mid-day sun in the south.
Cimicifuga ramosa atropurpurea “Bugbane”
C. simplex “Brunette”
C. racemosa “Pink Spike”
In zones 3-7, four feet tall with green foliage and delicate fluffy white spikes – C. japonica “Thunberg”
And the similar popular C. japonica “White Pearl”
Featured image: Actaea simplex “Pink Spike” with other bugbane relatives at HS Wisley UK