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Willow-leaved Spirea Spiraea salicifolia

Previously known as:

  • Spiraea arguta
Phonetic Spelling
spy-REE-ah sal-iss-ih-FOH-lee-uh
Description

The name Spiraea is derived from the Greek speira, meaning twisting which refers to the fruits that appear as if they are twisted.  First described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753, Spiraea salicifolia or Willowleaf Meadowsweet is a deciduous shrub in the rose family.

It's commonly found in wet boggy areas, stream beds, river valleys or woodlands. It can adapt to most soil conditions, however prefers to be located in full sunlight in moist and loamy soil. In the US, it can be found in the lower 48 states, but it is more likely to be observed in the wild in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Vermont.

Spreading by suckers, it can form a dense thicket.  These thickets can cause individual plants to become less hardy.  Dividing on a regular basis will help keep the plants at their best.  Its dense habitat is used for stabilization projects along rivers and lakes.  

When in bloom, the rose-tinted white flowers produced on panicles create a dense, showy picture.

Its vitamin C rich young leaves can be cooked and eaten.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious disease or insect issues.  Aphids and cicada caterpillar are occasional visitors. 

Fungi may be an issue in locations with poor ventilation.  

Soil containing lime can decrease the level of chlorophyll, causing the leaves to yellow.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#drought tolerant#edible plant#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#hedges#disease resistant#deer browsing plant#thickets#cold tolerant#pollinator plant#edible garden#edible leaves#wildflower garden#flowers mid-summer#edible shrub#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#humidity tolerant#dry soils tolerant#woodland garden#dense growth#edible#suckering shrub#suckering#thicket
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#drought tolerant#edible plant#wildlife plant#deciduous shrub#nectar plant#hedges#disease resistant#deer browsing plant#thickets#cold tolerant#pollinator plant#edible garden#edible leaves#wildflower garden#flowers mid-summer#edible shrub#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#humidity tolerant#dry soils tolerant#woodland garden#dense growth#edible#suckering shrub#suckering#thicket
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Spiraea
    Species:
    salicifolia
    Family:
    Rosaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Ornamental, Soil stabilization
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe and Japan
    Distribution:
    GA, KY, MI, MS, NC, VA, VT
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers support pollinating insects. Bees are attracted to the flowers.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Buffer
    Colorful
    Screening
    Edibility:
    The leaves are edible.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Follicle
    Fruit Description:
    The fruits dry and open on one side to release its winged seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Dense, 4 to 5" panicles bloom all summer and flowers are pollinated by insects.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The double toothed, pointed leaves have no hairs.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Typically, does not have branches. The stems can range from yellow-brown to yellow-gray.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Pond
    Small Space
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Humidity
    Insect Pests