Spiraea tomentosa (Steeplebush)

Plant Info
Also known as: Hardhack
Family:Rosaceae (Rose)
Life cycle:perennial
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

[photo of leaf underside] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a cluster of 5 tiny pods (follicles), each containing a single seed. When ripe, the pods split open at the top and the seeds fall to the ground over the winter months.


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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More photos

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?

Posted by: sharon - Princeton mn
on: 2012-09-17 08:59:13

I have it growing in my back yard. It make a lovely boquet. I rather like it in the house.

Posted by: Timothy Johnson - Blaine
on: 2021-07-15 12:20:37

Blooming today in Blaine Preserve SNA in the section north of Lovell Rd.

Posted by: Brett W - Mille lacs County
on: 2022-07-31 14:38:58

Quite a bit of it growing in a wetland along forest road in the Rum River SF. Not quite peak as of 7/30/22.

Posted by: Kathy R. - Blaine Wetland Sanctuary
on: 2023-07-20 13:55:04

Many clumps of steeplebush flowering today along the boardwalk at the Blaine (MN) Wetland Sanctuary.

Posted by: Barbara Wohlferd - City of Grant near Stillwater MN
on: 2023-07-30 18:43:10

We have quite a lot of this along our small lake in the City of Grant. It's in peak now. If you need a picture, let me know

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