Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush)
|Also known as:||Hardhack|
|Habitat:||sun; wet meadows, bogs, along shores|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||2 to 4 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are in densely packed clusters at the top of the plant, blooming from the top of the plant down. Individual flowers are light to deep pink, about ¼ inch across, with 5 petals and numerous long pink stamens.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are generally elliptic, to 2½ inches long and 1 inch wide, coarsely toothed, with a blunt point at the tip and a short stalk. Leaves may be spreading but are more often ascending. Attachment is alternate.
The upper surface is dark green and the underside is silvery, covered with dense, matted hairs. The stem is woody and brown; first year stems are densely covered in matted hairs and velvety to the touch. One plant typically has multiple stems, looking like a cluster of plants.
Steeplebush is considered a shrub rather than a wildflower (forb). It tends to grow in colonies. It resembles Meadowsweet, which may be growing next to it but has pink flowers and leaves that are green on both surfaces. Steeplebush is pretty easy to identify when in bloom.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County and Helen Allison SNA, Anoka County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?