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Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush)
Muller, Thomas L.

Spiraea tomentosa

Spiraea tomentosa L.


Rosaceae (Rose Family)

Synonym(s): Spiraea tomentosa var. rosea, Spiraea tomentosa var. tomentosa

USDA Symbol: spto2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

This mound-shaped, deciduous shrub forms a thicket of erect, slender, wand-like, unbranched stems, 3 to 5 ft. tall. Dense, erect, plumes of pink to rose-purple flowers occur terminally. The orange to reddish-brown bark is exfoliating and the fall foliage is yellow. An erect shrub with dense, steeple-shaped, branched clusters of pink flowers.

A similar species, the pink-flowered Japanese Spiraea (S. japonica) from Asia, differs from Steeplebush in having flat-topped clusters of flowers and smooth leaves; since its introduction into North America, it has invaded a broad area, from Ontario and Michigan east to Maine and south to Georgia, Tennessee, and Illinois.


From the Image Gallery

8 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Aggregate , Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown, aggregated follicles.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AR , CT , DE , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. & N.B. to Que. & e.c. MN, s. to NC, MS & AR
Native Habitat: Wet prairies & meadows; marshes; roadsides

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Wet, moderately acid, soils.
Conditions Comments: Steeplebush needs sun; it will dwindle in shade.


Use Wildlife: Intermediate.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Columbia silkmoth

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Columbia silkmoth
(Hyalophora columbia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings. Cuttings do not need a hormone treatment.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require no special treatment.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Spiraea tomentosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Spiraea tomentosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Spiraea tomentosa


Record Modified: 2023-05-11
Research By: TWC Staff

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