astil·​be ə-ˈstil-(ˌ)bē How to pronounce astilbe (audio)
: any of a genus (Astilbe) of chiefly Asian perennials of the saxifrage family that have simple or usually compound leaves and are widely cultivated for their panicles of usually white, pink, or red flowers

Examples of astilbe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Standard said some plants with black foliage that work well for the goth look are a sweet potato vine called Sweet Caroline Bewitched After Midnight, Dark Side of the Moon astilbe, and Rock ‘N Grow Back in Black sedum. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Journal Sentinel, 18 Apr. 2024 Some flowers in my garden have been inherited from the previous owners: astilbes, baptisias, azaleas, and buddleias. Yiyun Li, The New Yorker, 23 Oct. 2023 When the astilbes bloom, their white flowers make a shimmering mass in the sun, countering the meaning of their name, in Greek, as something that does not shimmer. Yiyun Li, The New Yorker, 23 Oct. 2023 The bouquet featured trailing jasmine, pale pink and cream sweet peas, royal porcelain ivory spray roses, pink o’hara garden roses, pink wax flower and baby pink astilbe. Town & Country, 17 July 2023 For sun, available at Heyden’s Gardens. Dark Side of the Moon astilbe Megan Hirsch, perennial grower at Milaeger's, suggested this new astilbe. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Journal Sentinel, 23 Mar. 2023 Purple hydrangea, silver and gold astilbe sprays and silver snowflakes add color to the 10-foot-tall Christmas tree at the base of the sweeping staircase. oregonlive, 9 Dec. 2022 Feathery pink astilbe, added by gardener Rick Elder, brings a soft, organic note to the corridor, and in the distance, a 150-year-old bronze beech forms a majestic backdrop behind a sweet marble statue of a child. Katy Elliott, WSJ, 17 Aug. 2022 Anemone, astilbe, fern, hosta, oakleaf hydrangea, ligularia, rhododendron, toad lily, and woodland phlox thrive in many mainland U.S. regions; ajuga, clivia, tropical gingers and bromeliads are good choices for the warmest climates. Jessica Damiano,, 15 May 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'astilbe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, genus name, probably from Greek a- a- entry 2 + stilbḗ, feminine of stilbós "glittering, gleaming, resplendent," perhaps of pre-Greek substratal origin

Note: The taxon Astilbe rivularis was introduced in Prodromus florae Nepalensis (London, 1825), a description in Latin of Nepalese plants collected by the British physician and botanist Francis Buchanan (1762-1829, known after 1815 as Francis Hamilton), who traveled widely in South Asia from 1794 to 1814 while in the Bengal Medical Service. Though Buchanan-Hamilton himself compiled notes on the plants, the conversion of the notes into an ordered botanical catalogue was carried out by the Scottish botanist and librarian David Don (1799-1841). The name Astilbe, which presumably should be taken to mean "not showy, dull," is attributed to "Hamilton MSS." (p. 211-12), so it was most likely devised by Buchanan-Hamilton himself, with no explanation. The plant is reported as growing at "Narainhetty Nepalensium," which may refer to the grounds of Narayanhiti, the Nepalese royal palace in Kathmandu.

First Known Use

1827, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of astilbe was in 1827

Dictionary Entries Near astilbe

Cite this Entry

“Astilbe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on astilbe

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!