white meadowsweet

(Spiraea alba)

narrow-leaved meadowsweet

Spiraea alba is a deciduous shrub native to North America, commonly known as meadowsweet or white meadowsweet. It belongs to the rose family (Rosaceae).

It is often found in wetland areas, such as bogs, marshes, and along stream banks. It prefers moist, acidic soils and full sun to partial shade.

The plant has historically been used for medicinal purposes, including treating fevers, colds, and other ailments. Today, it is also used as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscaping.


Spiraea alba is a deciduous shrub that typically grows 1-2 meters in height.

The stems are woody and slender, with a brownish-gray bark that may peel off in older specimens.

The leaves are simple, alternate, and oval-shaped, with toothed margins. They are usually 2-6 cm long and 1-4 cm wide, and have a dark green color on the upper surface and a lighter green on the lower surface.

The small white flowers grow in dense clusters at the end of the branches. Each flower has five petals and a central cluster of stamens, and is approximately 5-8 mm in diameter. The flowers are usually fragrant.

The fruits are small dry capsules that contain numerous tiny seeds.


Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 29, 30.

  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)  

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


broadleaf meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. latifolia)

narrow-leaved meadowsweet (Spiraea alba var. alba)






Common Names



white meadowsweet











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  Spiraea alba. Corey McQueen

Published on Apr 24, 2014




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  Jessica Fontana

Location: Savage, MN 55378

I have a pond behind my home and 3 of these plants appeared this year among the wild aster and milk weed. It has taken me a while to identify it as white meadowsweet. It has 5 fused petals and a very purple pink center. The long leaves look like this variety as well. The fruit pods are numerous and brown. Hopefully I will have more next year.

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