Spiraea, also known as Spirea, is a genus of more than 100 species of flowering shrubs in the family Rosaceae, native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
These plants have simple, fine-textured leaves and short racemes, panicles or corymbs of tiny, five-petaled flowers in shades of purple, pink, yellow, cream and white. They are tolerant of some shade, but full sun encourages a profusion of flowers. Spirea deserves a spot in every garden that has room for a small shrub. Once established, this charming garden plant will attract birds and butterflies, making your green space a wildlife heaven.
The genus name comes from the Greek word “speira”, which means “wreath”, “coil” or “spire”, in reference to the showy flower clusters.
Spiraea symbolizes wealth, fortune and prosperity.
It also represents victory over hardship and creative expansion.
Interesting facts about Spiraea:
Spireas make good companions when planted in combination with other shrubs and small trees. They make great companions when planted with Hydrangeas. Their long-lasting flowers will make you think summer is endless.
These plants look stunning when mixed with sun-loving ornamental grasses such as Festuca glauca, Helictotrichon sempervirens, Muhlenbergia rigens, Panicum virgatum and Pennisetum orientale.
They also look great and grow well with Agastache, Lavandula, Perovskia and Salvia.
Benefits and Uses
Several species, such as Spiraea betulifolia and Spiraea splendens, were used in traditional medicine by Native Americans.
It’s also interesting that the name “aspirin” is derived from “a” for acetyl, “spir” from Spiraea and “in” as a common ending for medicines. Actually, the “spir” came from Spiraea ulmaria (=Filipendula ulmaria), which contains salicylic acid from which the drug aspirin can be synthesised. In 1897, Felix Hoffman, a scientist at Bayer in Germany, was able to modify salicylic acid to create acetylsalicylic acid, which was named Aspirin. The new compound was named and registered Aspirin on February 1, 1899. However, the species Spiraea ulmaria was later transferred to a new genus and renamed Filipendula ulmaria, which is today commonly known as Meadowsweet.
Many species are used as ornamental plants, particularly for their showy clusters of dense flowers.
The flowers come in shades of purple, pink, yellow, cream and white.
Spring, Autumn, Summer
These plants can grow up to 3 m (10 ft) in height, depending on species.
The plant grows in almost any type of soil that is well-drained. The ideal soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.0. If soil is too alkaline (above 7.0), it may reduce the plant's ability to take up some nutrients resulting in the yellowing of foliage (chlorosis).