Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Spiraea tomentosa (L.)
ROSACEAE (Rose Family)
EtymologySpiraea means spiral, from the Greek "speira";tomentosa means densely woolly, from the Latin: toment = stuffing for cushions, such as hair or wool + osus = suffix meaning plenty.
Synonyms (Common Name)Hardhack
DescriptionSteeplebush is a deciduous, broad-leaved, low shrub that gets its name from its spire-like terminal inflorescence of pink or rose-purple flowers. Growing in clumps 3-4' high, steeeplebush has wiry, upright branches with angled, purple-brown branchlets that are covered with dense, woolly, tawny-brown hairs.
Wetland indicator statusFACW
Plant Height3-4 feet
LeavesDeciduous, alternate, simple, toothed; to 2" long; oblong to ovate or lanceolate; dark green above, tawny or rusty-woolly beneath.
Flower/InflorescencePink to rose-purple, rarely white; tiny (less than 1/5"), 5-petals, feathery tuft of stamens in the center; densely crowded on steeple-like terminal inflorescence 4-7" long.
Flowering PeriodJuly-September
FruitTiny, 5-parted capsule, brown, hairy, in steeple-like cluster.
Fruiting PeriodAutumn, somewhat persistent.
HabitatSwamps, wet to dry meadows.
RangeNova Scotia to North Carolina.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett