False-spirea is a dense, colony-forming, suckering shrub best used for naturalizing, erosion control. Large, showy clusters of tiny white flowers appear in mid-summer. The large compound leaves open on arching stems, unfolding with a reddish tinge gradually changing to a deep green. May be difficult to find in nurseries.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 2,
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest:
- Early summer,
- Mid summer,
- Late summer
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size & form
An erect, colony-forming, multi-stemmed shrub reaching 5 to 10 feet high and wide.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun, tolerant of light shade in moist, well-drained, organic-rich soil
Becomes stunted in dry soil
Suckering shrub, spreads profusely forming large colonies
Flowers on new wood, prune in spring before new growth begins
Disease, pests, and problems
Native geographic location and habitat
Siberia, Manchuria, China, Korea and Japan
Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife
Flowers attract butterflies and pollinators
Bark color and texture
Young stems are pink to green and slightly pubescent. Older stems are gray-brown and smooth
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, pinnately compound up to 12 inches long, with 12 to 25 leaflets, each 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Margins are double serrated and pointed.
Foliage similar to Mountain ash (Sorbus). One of first shrubs to leaf out in spring.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Showy clusters of tiny white flowers in dense, cone-shaped panicles, 4 to 10 inches long.
Flowers on terminal ends of new wood in June
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Dehiscent fruit capsule
Cultivars and their differences
Sem False-Spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia 'Sem'): A dense, rounded, compact shrub reaching 3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide, new leaves coppery-pink when emerging.