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FutureStarrWhite Meadowsweet or
White meadowsweet sweetens meadow landscapes in mid-summer with its cone-shaped spires of tiny white flowers borne at the ends of leggy branches. It differs from its other native cousin, rosy meadowsweet (Spiraea tomentosa) by having hairless leaves. White meadowsweet does well in cottage gardens where it can grow in full sun yet have its feet wet or moist. Dense stands make an unusual hedge. This species is a host for the larvae of the Spring azure butterfly (Celastrina ladon).White Meadowsweet is considered a shrub rather than a wildflower (forb). It tends to grow in colonies. It resembles Steeplebush, which may be growing along side it but has distinctly pink flowers and its leaves are silvery white on the underside. Meadowsweet is pretty easy to identify when in bloom.
Spiraea alba (White Meadowsweet) is a woody deciduous shrub bearing erect, unbranched stems clad with narrow, sharply serrated, medium green leaves. The foliage turns golden-yellow in fall. In early summer to early fall, dense pyramidal clusters, 3-4 in. long (7-10 cm), packed with tiny white or pale pinkish flowers, appear at the tips of the branches. Blooming for about 1-2 months, the flowers produce nectar and pollen, which attract bees, bumblebees, moths and other pollinating insects. The blossoms are followed by fruits which contain 5 pods-shaped follicles, which burst open in the fall, thus allowing the seeds to disperse. Bird feast on them during the fall and winter. Typically found in the wild in wet prairies and along edges of streams, marshes or bogs, White Meadowsweet 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 moist. Narrowleaf meadowsweet shrubs often reach 8 feet in height with a spread of 3–4 feet
This species is often the most conspicuous part of the vegetation in its habitat, taking up large areas of ground. Its leaves are glossy yellow-green, oblong or lance-shaped, and toothed on the edges, and its twigs are tough and yellowish brown. Fall foliage is golden yellow. The white and sometimes pink fragrant flowers grow in spike-like clusters at the ends of the branches, blooming from early summer through September. The brown fruit, which persists after flowering, is a distinctive feature of all Spiraea species.One theory (suggested by John Eastman) is that the name did not originate from the word "meadow" at all, but from "mead-wort," once used to flavor home-brewed mead. This explanation may relate to another plant: Filipendula ulmaria. The latter is a herbaceous perennial shrub native to Europe also called Meadowsweet or Queen of the Meadow and used in the Middle Ages to make mead-wort (an alcoholic drink made by fermenting honey and fruit juices). (Source: wildadirondacks.org)