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Meadowsweet is a native, upright, loose shrub reaching 3 to 6 feet high, forming colonies of finely-branched 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.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois)
  • Soil preference Wet soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and form:

Meadowsweet is an erect, slender shrub reaching 3 to 6 feet high, with a suckering habit.

Native geographic location and habitat:

C-Value: 7. This shrub is native to marshy meadows, boggy soils, along stream banks, and open, wet meadows in the upper Midwest, including northern Illinois.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Birds, butterflies, and bees pollinate this shrub.

Bark color and texture:

The bark on young stems are green and smooth becoming brown and woody with age.

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

Leaves are alternate, narrow, and grow up to 3 inches long. They are ovate to lanceolate with sharp, finely toothed margins. The upper leaf surface is medium green with a paler underside. There are small leaf-like bracts at the base of leaves on older plants.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Flowers are large, terminal clusters (panicles) of white flowers up to 4 inches tall. Flowers appear mid to late summer and last for one to two months.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruit is a persistent cluster of upright, five-segmented fruits (follicles), each containing two to three seeds.

Plant care:

Grows best in full sun in wet to moist conditions. It is tolerant of light shade but will produce fewer flowers. Although it is soil pH adaptable, it prefers soil rich in organic matter. It is tolerant of temporary wet conditions. Suckers can be controlled by mowing or cutting to ground. It is an easily grown shrub with little maintenance required.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Japanese beetles, leaf spots, and mildew can be a problem for this shrub.


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