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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Wetland Plants and Plant Communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin


(Spiraea alba DuRoi)


ROSE FAMILY (Rosaceae)


FIELD CHARACTERISTICS: A low, deciduous, woody shrub, usually up to 2 m. high. Leaves are alternate, simple, unlobed, finely serrate, without hairs, oblanceolate, and 3-6 cm. long. The unarmed twigs are slender, ascending, and generally a dull brown. The inflorescence is a terminal, finely hairy, elongate panicle. The five-petaled flowers are white, very small (about 3 mm. wide), and fuzzy. The fruit is a follicle. In flower from June to August. A similar species, steeplebush (S. tomentosa), can be easily distinguished from S. alba because of its pink flowers and its woolly twigs and leaf undersides.

ECOLOGICAL NOTES: Meadowsweet occurs in sedge meadows, wet to wet-mesic prairies, and shrub-carrs. It may form relatively tall, dense thickets on disturbed sites, and it tends to increase with declining water levels.

SOURCE: Gleason and Cronquist (1991); and Swink and Wilhelm (1994).

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