steeplebush

(Spiraea tomentosa)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

steeplebush

 

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACW - Facultative wetland

Midwest

FACW - Facultative wetland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland

Nativity

Native

 
Occurrence

 

 
Habitat

Moist. Meadows, bogs, streambanks. Full to partial sun.

Flowering

July to September

     
Flower Color

Pink or rose-purple

     
Height

2 to 3½

     
 
Identification

This is an erect, perennial, 2 to 3½ tall, usually unbranched shrub with a woody root. It may form tall, dense thickets.

The bark is gray or reddish-brown and smooth. When it ages the bark becomes papery and peels off in fine strips.

Twigs are brownish and hairy. They do not have thorns.

Buds are long-pointed and silky. Leaf scars are raised and have just 1 bundle scar.

The leaves are alternate, crowded, and deciduous. They are egg-shaped to oblong or lance-shaped, unlobed, 1 to 2 long, with a pointed tip. The margins have fine, sharp teeth. The upper surface is medium green and hairless. The lower surface has a dense, reddish-brown fuzz. They are attached to the twig in short leaf stalks.

The inflorescence is an erect, branched, cluster of many small flowers at the end of the stem or a branch. It is pyramid-shaped, longer than wide, 2 to 6 long. There are 6 to 10 flowers per centimeter (about ). The flower stems and flower cups are densely hairy.

The flowers are wide and slightly fuzzy. They have 5 pink or rose-purple petals, 5 light green sepals, and 20 or more long stamens. The sepals are not spreading but bend backward when the flowers are fully open. The petals are much longer than the sepals.

The fruit is a group of 5 dry, brown, woolly pods with short beaks. They contain 2 to 5 seeds.

 
Similar
Species

Broadleaf meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. latifolia) is a much taller plant, 3 to 6 tall. The leaves are hairless on the underside. The sepals are spreading but do not bend backward when the flowers are fully open. The flower petals are white. The fruit is hairless.

Narrow-leaved meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. alba) is a much taller plant, 3 to 6 tall. The leaves are hairless on the underside. The sepals are spreading but do not bend backward when the flowers are fully open. The flower petals are white. The fruit is hairless.

 
Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8.
 
Comments

 

 
Taxonomy

Family:

Rosaceae (rose)

 

Subfamily:

Spiraeoideae

 

Tribe:

Spiraeeae

 
Synonyms

Spiraea tomentosa var. rosea

Spiraea tomentosa var. tomentosa

 
Common
Names

steeplebush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Beak

A comparatively short and stout, narrow or prolonged tip on a thickened organ, as on some fruits and seeds.

       
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