Spiraea tomentosa L.
Rosaceae (Rose Family)
Synonym(s): Spiraea tomentosa var. rosea, Spiraea tomentosa var. tomentosa
USDA Symbol: spto2
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Aggregate , Follicle
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown, aggregated follicles.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Intermediate.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Columbia silkmoth
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial 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 |
Learn more at BAMONA
PropagationDescription: 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 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 ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Spiraea tomentosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Spiraea tomentosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Spiraea tomentosa
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-05-11
Research By: TWC Staff