broadleaf meadowsweet

(Spiraea alba var. latifolia)

Conservation Status


No image available

  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status

FACW - Facultative wetland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACW - Facultative wetland


Broadleaf meadowsweet is an erect, perennial, 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.

Young twigs are green, leafy, and covered with minute, fine, soft hairs. Later they become hairless and develop purplish-brown or reddish-brown bark. 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, hairless, crowded, and deciduous. They are broadly oblong to broadly inverse–lance-shaped, with the attachment at the narrow end. They are unlobed, 2 to 3 times as long as wide, 2 to 3 long, and to 13 16 wide. The margins have coarse, blunt teeth. The upper surface is medium green and hairless. The lower surface pale green is hairless. They are attached to the twig in short, 1 16 to long 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. The flower stems and flower cups are hairless or nearly hairless.

The flowers are ¼ wide and slightly fuzzy. They have 5 white, rarely pinkish, petals, 5 light green sepals, and 20 or more long stamens. The sepals are acute and spreading, but do not 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, hairless pods with short beaks. They contain 2 to 5 seeds.




3 to 6


Flower Color


White, rarely pinkish


Similar Species


Narrow-leaved meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. alba) twigs are dull brown or yellowish-brown. Twig color, however, is an unreliable indicator because the color is variable. Leaves are narrower, 3 to 4 times as long as wide. Leaf margins have finer, sharper teeth. The inflorescence is evidently hairy. The sepals are obtuse. It is found in moist to wet locations.

Steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa) is a much shorter plant, usually less than 3 tall. The leaves have a dense, reddish-brown fuzz on the underside. The sepals are not spreading but bend backward when the flowers are fully open. The flower petals are pink or rose-purple. The fruit is hairy.


Moist to wet. Meadows, bogs, swamps, thickets, streambanks, shorelines. Full sun to part shade.




June to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



4, 29, 30.








According to Minnesota State Botanist Welby Smith, var. latifolia is not found in Minnesota but intermediates between var. latifolia and var. alba can be found throughout the state.

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  


Rosaceae (rose)  
  Subfamily Amygdaloideae  
  Tribe Spiraeeae  


Spiraea (meadowsweet)  
  Species Spiraea alba (white meadowsweet)  

The genus Spiraea was formerly included in the subfamily Spiraeoideae. A reanalysis in 2007 found that Spiraeoideae contained all descendants of a common ancestor except a few – it was paraphyletic, and therefore invalid. In 2011, the subfamily Amygdaloideae was redefined adding the former Spiraeoideae and Maloideae.


Subordinate Taxa





  Spiraea latifolia  

Common Names


broadleaf meadowsweet

broad-leaved meadowsweet













Referring to leaf shapes that taper to a pointed tip with more or less straight sides, the angle at the tip less than 90°.



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



Referring to leaf shapes that taper to a broad tip with more or less straight sides, the angle at the tip more than 90°.

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  Broadleaf Meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia)
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Broadleaf Meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia)  



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