steeplebush

(Spiraea tomentosa)

Conservation Status
steeplebush
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  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

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Steeplebush 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.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

2 to 3½

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

Pink or rose-purple

 
     
 

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.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

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

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to September

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8.

 
  1/15/2012      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

 

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  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 (dicots)  
  Subclass Rosidae  
  Superorder Rosanae  
 

Order

Rosales (roses, elms, figs, and allies)  
 

Family

Rosaceae (rose)  
  Subfamily Amygdaloideae  
  Tribe Spiraeeae  
 

Genus

Spiraea (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

 
 

 

 
       
 

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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Plant

  steeplebush   steeplebush
       

Inflorescence

  steeplebush    
       

Leaves

  steeplebush   steeplebush
       
       

 

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