Content Detail

False-spirea is a dense, colony-forming, suckering shrub best used for naturalizing and 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.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, clay soil, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Size & form:

An erect, colony-forming, multi-stemmed shrub reaching 5 to 10 feet high and wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

This shrub is native to Siberia, Manchuria, China, Korea, and Japan.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Flowers attract butterflies and pollinators.

Bark color and texture:

The young stems are pink to green and slightly pubescent. Older stems are gray-brown and smooth.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound up to 12 inches long, with 12 to 25 leaflets, and each grow 4 inches long and 1 inch wide. Leaf margins are double serrated and pointed. Foliage is similar to Mountain ash (Sorbus). This is one of the first shrubs to leaf out in spring.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Flowers are showy clusters of tiny white flowers in dense, cone-shaped panicles between 4 and 10 inches long. Flowers form on the terminal ends of new wood in June.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit of the false-spirea is a dehiscent fruit capsule.

Plant care:

This shrub is best grown in full sun, and is tolerant of light shade in moist, well-drained, organic-rich soil. It can become stunted in dry soil. It is a suckering shrub that spreads profusely forming large colonies. It flowers on new wood so prune in spring before new growth begins. 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

There are no serious pests or diseases. It is deer resistant.

Sem False-Spirea (Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’):

This cultivar is a dense, rounded, compact shrub reaching 3 to 4 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. Its new leaves are coppery-pink when emerging.


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