Species Profile by Wendy Aeschliman
Common Name(s): Douglas Spirea; Pink Spirea; Rose Spirea, Steeplebush, Hardhack (so-called by settlers because dense masses of the bush are hard to hack through.)
Scientific Name: Spiraea douglasii. Spiraea comes from the Greek word, speira, which refers to wreaths, or garlands. It is for this reason that species of spirea are often referred to as bridal-wreath shrubs. Douglasii was named after the Scottish botanist David Douglas.
General Info: A many-branched deciduous shrub with woolly young growth. To 1.5 m tall. Spreads into dense colonies in wetlands through rhizomes.
Native/ Non-native: Native. Alaska to California, E to Montana.
Ecology: Riparian species: streambanks, swamps, fens, lake margins and damp meadows. Scattered yet locally abundant in lower to mid elevation.
Leaves: Oblong to oval leaves 1 to 4 inches long, smooth edges near base and toothed above the middle; dark green upper side and light green underside (See photo at right)
Flowers: Tiny (5 mm across), pink to deep rose numerous flowers in elongate clusters several times longer than broad.
Fruits: Tiny seeds thought to be dispersed by wind and animals.
Light: Generally shade intolerant in native environments.
Landscape Uses: Makes an attractive, showy garden ornamental; easy to propagate from creeping offshoots. May become invasive if not kept back.
Wildlife: A dense habitat for small animal shelter and bird nesting. Flowers attract butterflies and bees. Food source for animals such as deer.
Uses: Wetland restoration. Listed as a national wetland indicator species.
Notes: Many species of spirea are used in flower arrangements. Douglas' spirea may hybridize
with white spiraea (S. betulifolia) to form pyramid spirea (S. x pyramidata Greene).
Photo by Wendy Aeschlliman