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Spiraea alba Du Roi

Meadowsweet, white meadowsweet

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderRosalesRose family and eight others
FamilyRosaceaeIncludes apples, apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, pears, raspberries, strawberries, almonds, roses, meadowsweets, photinias, firethorns, rowans, and hawthorns; many others
GenusSpiraeaFrom Greek speiraira, “a plant used for wreaths or garlands,” in turn from speira, “spiral or twisted”
Speciesalba“White”

About plant names...

Meadowsweet is native to North America. The similar-appearing Spiraea latifolia has recently been reclassified as a form of this species. See also steeplebush, a pink relative.

Plants: Shrub is 24-72" (60-182 cm) around, with multiple stems that are rarely branched. (Browsing by animals sometimes produces more densely branched bushes.) Stems are brown or yellowish brown.

Leaves: Alternate, green and textured above, paler in color beneath, narrowly ovate, and sharply toothed. They have pinnate veins and short stems, and are 1¾-2½" (5-7 cm) × ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm).

Flowers: Large, densely flowered panicles are 2-6" (5-15 cm) long, composed of individual flowers less than ¼" (6.3 mm) around. Each flower is white or pale pink, with five petals and a large number of stamens. They flower from June to September.

Fruits: Dry brown follicles opening at the tip when ripened, and persisting long after flowering.

These are similar:

 

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

8/1/2009 · Kennebunk Plains, Kennebunk, Maine
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

8/4/2006 · Mt. Mansfield, Stowe, Ver­mont

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/10/2021 · Fox East Trail, Bradbury Mountain, Pownal, Maine
≈ 6 × 4½" (15 × 11 cm)

  You are here
Spiraea alba

Spiraea tomentosa
Common Name

meadowsweet

steeplebush
Plant Shrub is 24-72" (60-182 cm) around, with multiple stems that are rarely branched. Stems are brown or yellowish brown. 24-48" (60-121 cm) tall, composed of groups of unbranched stems topped by conical flowerheads. Stems are orange-colored at first, from dense brown hairs, becoming reddish-brown and woody later.
Flowers Large, densely flowered panicles are 2-6" (5-15 cm) long, composed of individual flowers less than ¼" (6.3 mm) around. Each flower is white or pale pink, with five petals and a large number of stamens. They flower from June to September. Dense, cone-shaped panicles of pink flowers 2-6" (5-15 cm) long, each less than ¼" (6.3 mm) around, with five petals. Flowers appear from July to September.
Leaves Alternate, green and textured above, paler in color beneath, narrowly ovate, and sharply toothed. They have pinnate veins and short stems, and are 1¾-2½" (5-7 cm) × ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm). Alternate, dark green, hairless, and textured on top; pale and hairy below. They are 1½-3" (3.8-7.6 cm) × ½-1¼" (1.3-3.2 cm), roughly oval shaped (elliptic to ovate), coarsely toothed, connected by short stems.
Fruit Dry brown follicles opening at the tip when ripened, and persisting long after flowering. Pods that contain narrow seeds about ¹/₃₂" (1 mm) long.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-7

USDA Zones: 4-8
Habitats Damp meadows, pastures, old fields, in sandy, loamy soil Damp meadows, pastures, old fields, in sandy, loamy soil
Type Wild Wild

 

Online References:

Spiraea alba at Illinois Wildflowers

Spiraea alba on the Ecology of Commanster

Spiraea alba at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Cofrin Center for Biodiversity

Spiraea alba at the University of Michigan Herbarium

Spiraea alba at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Spiraea alba on Fall Wildflowers of New England

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

9/11/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 15 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/9/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 13 × 17" (32 × 42 cm) ID is uncertain

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/9/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 5 × 4" (13 × 10 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/22/2012 · Wapack Trail, Pack Monadnock, Peterborough, New Hamp­shire
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/22/2012 · Wapack Trail, Pack Monadnock, Peterborough, New Hamp­shire
≈ 4½ × 7" (11 × 16 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

8/1/2009 · Kennebunk Plains, Kennebunk, Maine
≈ 4 × 3" (10 × 8.5 cm) ID is uncertain

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

8/1/2021 · Houghton Graves Park, Harpswell, Maine
≈ 3 × 5" (8.4 × 12 cm)

 

Spiraea alba description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 13 Sep 2021.

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Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/9/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 7 × 9" (18 × 23 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

8/4/2006 · Mt. Mansfield, Stowe, Ver­mont

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/10/2021 · Fox East Trail, Bradbury Mountain, Pownal, Maine
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.5 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

9/11/2021 · Otter Brook Preserve, Harpswell, Maine
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 15 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/9/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 4½ × 3" (11 × 7.9 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/9/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/9/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 5 × 7" (13 × 18 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

8/1/2021 · Houghton Graves Park, Harpswell, Maine
≈ 3½ × 5" (9 × 12 cm)

Spiraea alba (meadowsweet, white meadowsweet)

7/9/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm)

Range: Zones 3-7:

About this map...