Eastern Forest Threat Center - Japanese Spiraea

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Japanese spiraea leaves and flowers

Japanese spiraea leaves and flowers

Great Smoky Mtns. National Park Archive, Bugwood.org

Japanese Spiraea
Spiraea japonica

Japanese spiraea is native to Japan, Korea and China. It was introduced into the U.S. as an ornamental landscape plant and was first cultivated in the northeastern states around 1870.

Keywords: Rosaceae, perennial, deciduous, shrub, toothed leaf margins, rosy-pink flowers, lustrous seed capsules; Common names: Japanese meadowsweet

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Threat Description

Japanese spiraea is a perennial, deciduous shrub in the Rose family that grows to 4 to 6 ft. in height and width. Its erect stems are brown to reddish-brown and sometimes hairy. Alternate eggshaped leaves are 1-3 in. long with toothed margins. Rosy-pink flower clusters up to 12 in. across are borne at the tips of branches. Seeds, measuring about 1/10 in. in length, are contained in small lustrous capsules. A single plant produces hundreds of seeds that are naturally dispersed by water and deposited along stream banks. Seeds may also be carried in fill dirt and establish new populations in the highly disturbed soil of construction sites. Seeds last for many years in the soil, making its control and the restoration of native vegetation especially difficult. Japanese spiraea is adapted to disturbed areas, tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, and grows in full sun to partial shade. It is commonly found growing along streams and rivers, forest edges, roadsides, and in successional fields and power line rights-of-way. Growing populations creep into meadows, forest openings, and other sites.