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Flowers of meadowsweet.

Meadowsweet is a native, upright, loose shrub reaching 3 to 6 feet high, forming colonies of finely-branches stems. Ideal for wet, sunny landscapes. In mid to-late summer shrubs produce 4-inch long slender clusters of white flowers. Best purchased through nurseries specializing in native plants. 

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

Botanical name:

Spiraea alba

All common names:

Meadowsweet, White meadowsweet, Narrowleaf meadowsweet, pale bridewort

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Screen,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago)

Soil Preference:

  • Wet soil


  • Occasional flooding

Seasons of Interest:

  • midsummer,
  • late summer

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Multi-stemmed,
  • Thicket-forming,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size & form

An erect, slender shrub reaching 3 to 6 feet high, with a suckering habit.

Tree & Plant Care

Best in full sun in wet to moist conditions. Tolerant of light shade but will produce less flowers.
Soil pH adaptable but should be rich in organic matter. Tolerant of temporary wet conditions.
Suckers can be controlled by mowing or cutting to ground.
Easily grown with little maintenance required.

Disease, pests, and problems

Japanese beetles, leaf spots, mildew

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 7
Found in marshy meadows, boggy soils, open, wet meadows and along stream banks in upper Midwest, including northern IL

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Birds, butterflies and bees

Bark color and texture 

Young stems are green and smooth becoming brown and woody with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate. Narrow, up to 3 inch long, ovate to lanceolate leaves, with finely sharp toothed margins. The upper leaf surface is medium green with paler underside.
Small leaf-like bracts at the base of leaves on older plants.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Large, terminal clusters (panicles) of white flowers up to 4 inches tall.
Flowers mid to late summer for 1-2 months.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Persistent clusters of upright, 5-segmented fruits (follicles), each contain 2 to 3 seeds.


Location of Spiraea alba (Meadowsweet) at the Arboretum