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Plants grow up to four feet tall and have attractive compound leaves. It grows from a fusiform shaped taproot. In late spring densely packed spikes of reddish to reddish brown flowers are produced that bloom from early to late summer. Plants like moist but not wet soils. Best used as a filler species in the border, mixes well with some of the larger Primula. It is rhizomatous and forms a slowly spreading clump. Chemicals within the roots have been shown to reduces hair loss in a study from Japan.
In the wild it usually occurs in wetlands, and is occasionally found in non wetlands were soils do not become overly dry.