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Spirea Tomentosa

Spirea Tomentosa

Spirea Tomentosa

Spiraea tomentosa, or Steeplebush, is an upright, multi-stemmed, suckering, deciduous shrub that can grow to 4 feet high with a slightly larger width. It is native to wet meadows, wet pastures, boggy areas, marshes, fields, and lake margins from Nova Scotia south to Louisiana and Georgia. As it's native location suggests, the plant needs moist acidic soils in order to grow well. This trait makes it a good selection for moist locations in the landscape or as a low hedge for paths and walkways. This is a flowering shrub with tiny pink to rose to rose-purple flowers clustered, top to bottom, on 4 to 8 inch terminal spikes that bloom from mid-summer to early autumn. These flowers attract butterflies. Spiraea tomentosa grows to up to four feet high and prefers moist to wet soil and full sun. It blooms in summer. Each tiny, pink flower is about 1/16 of an inch wide and arranged in narrow, pyramid-shaped flowerheads that grow up to eight inches long. The flowers are followed by small, dry, brown fruit. The specific epithet tomentosa refers to the undersides of the leaves and the stems, which are covered in a dense white-woolly tomentum.Famous for its spires of showy pink flowers, Steeplebush also features excellent foliage that turns bright reddish-gold in the fall. Individual flowerets are similar to cultivated spireas, but this native forms a colony of upright, slender wand-like plants. Spiraea tomentosa requires a moist setting and is well suited for planting along shorelines, around ponds, in rain gardens, and naturalized swale or detention areas. It prefers full sun, but light shade is tolerated. Flowers occur on new wood, so prune in late winter or very early spring if needed.Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush) is a suckering deciduous shrub bearing erect, unbranched stems clad with elliptic to ovate, medium to dark green leaves, 3 in. long (7 cm), densely hairy beneath.

The foliage turns golden-yellow in fall. In mid summer to early fall, dense plumes, 4-8 in. long (10-20 cm), packed with tiny pink to rose-purple flowers, appear at the tips of the branches. Blooming from top to bottom, the flowers produce nectar and pollen, which attract bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. Typically found in the wild in wet prairies and along edges of streams, marshes or bogs, Steeplebush is most suitable for naturalistic landscaping. It also does well in cottage gardens where it can grow in full sun yet have its feet wet or moistWhite or brownish "fur" (tomentum) on the undersides of the leaves of rosy meadowsweet give it its specific epithet (tomentosa). An alternate common name, steeplebush, derives from its tall, narrow spires of pink flowers. It is a food plant for caterpillars of the Columbia silkmoth (Hyalophora columbia), a large saturnid documented from Maine. Plant it in a sunny spot of the garden, where it will attract many butterflies, but give it moderate access to water. Spiraea tomentosa is an erect shrub with stems unbranched (unless damaged) and usually less than one meter tall. The leaves are simple, alternate, 3 -7 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, with toothed margins (margins may be entire toward the base of some leaves). The adaxial (upper) leaf surface is dark green and the abaxial (under) surface is covered by tomentose (dense wooly), often tan hairs. The flowers each have 5 pink or rose-colored petals, each tapering quickly toward the base. The calyx is fused at the base with 5 broadly triangular lobes. The entire calyx, and the branches of the inflorescence are covered by a dense growth of tomentose (usually tan) hairs. The flowers are aggregated into a long pyrimidal shape at the tip of the stem. The fruits are dry, brown follicles opening broadly at the tip when ripe and long-persistent on the stems. (Source: www.uwgb.edu)

 

 

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