Monthly Archives: May 2016

Shinyleaf Spiraea, Spiraea lucida

Shinyleaf Spiraea                                                                                The Rose Family–Rosaceae

Spiraea lucida flowersSpiraea lucida Douglas ex Greene

(spy-REE-uh  LOO-sih-duh)

Names:  The word Spiraea comes from a Greek plant that was commonly used for garlands. Spiraeas are collectively known as Meadowsweets.  Shinyleaf Spiraea was formerly considered a variety of Birchleaf Spiraea, Spiraea betulifolia,  It is sometimes called White Spiraea or White Meadowsweet. Lucida means shining.

Relationships: There are about 80-100 species of spiraea in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere-the majority in eastern Asia. Many are grown for ornamental landscaping and there are several cultivated varieties, mostly of the Japanese species.


Distribution of Shinyleaf Spiraea from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Shinyleaf Spiraea from USDA Plants Database

Distribution:  It is found from British Columbia to Oregon from the foothills of the Cascades, through the Rocky Mountains, eastward to Saskatchewan and Minnesota.





Spiraea lucida plantGrowth: Shinyleaf Spiraea grows only to about 1-3 ft. (30-90 cm).  It spreads by rhizomes and often grows in large colonies.






Habitat: It grows in open forests and on dry, rocky slopes; from foothills to wetter forests at higher mountain elevations.  Wetland designation: Tentative FAC*, It is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

Diagnostic Characters: Its leaves are egg-shaped, doubly-toothed past the middle; bright green above, paler below.  White flowers are borne in flat-topped clusters.   

Spiraea lucida leaves


In the Landscape:  Like many spiraeas, this shrub is charming in a landscape and is especially useful when a smaller shrub is desired.  It has great potential for mixing with Subalpine Spiraea in borders or foundation plantings.

Spiraea lucida flowers2

Phenology: Flowers:: May- July. Seasonal development of Shiny Spirea varies due to
temperature differences between elevational sites.






Propagation:  A 60 day cold, moist  stratification. of seeds is recommended but germination may occur without a stratification treatment. Cuttings also may be taken in early to mid June.

Use by People: A tea, made from branches, leaves or roots, was mostly used to treat abdominal and menstrual pains by natives.

Insects on Shiny Spiraea inflorescence

Insects on Shiny Spiraea inflorescence

Use by Wildlife: Shiny spiraea is considered a poor forage species and also does not provide good cover. But is possibly a good species for pollinators such as butterflies.






Spiraea x pyramidalisPyramidal Spiraea, Spiraea x pyramidata, is a naturally occurring hybrid of S. betulifolia (lucida) and S. douglasii.  It is intermediate to both of its parents, growing 4-5 feet (130-160cm) with flowers in pyramidal clusters, white to pale pink.








USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia


Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn