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Overview

Brief Summary

History in the United States

Japanese spiraea was introduced into the United States as an ornamental landscape plant and first cultivated in the northeastern states around 1870.

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History in the United States

Also called Japanese spiraea, it was introduced into the United States around 1870 to 1880 for ornamental cultivation due to its showy rosy-pink to carmine flowers.

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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Western Ghats, Cultivated, Native of East Asiatic Region"
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Distribution

Tamil Nadu: Nilgiri
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Distribution in the United States

Japanese spiraea is now naturalized throughout much of the Northeast, Southeast and Midwest.

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Native Range

Japan, Korea and China 
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Distribution and Habitat in the United States

Japanese meadowsweet is found throughout the mid-Atlantic and in the Southeast, most commonly in the Appalachian Mountains. Great Smoky Mountains National Park identifies it as a targeted invasive plant. It tolerates a wide range of soil and light conditions and inhabits forest edges and interiors, riparian areas, roadsides, power-line rights-of-way and other disturbed areas. It is often associated with old home sites.

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Origin

Japan, Korea and China

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Spiraea japonica L. f.:
Japan (Asia)
South Korea (Asia)
United States (North America)
China (Asia)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Shandong, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Japan, Korea].
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Japanese spiraea, also called Japanese meadowsweet, is a perennial, deciduous shrub that grows to 4 or sometimes 6 feet in height and about the same in width. It has slender erect stems that are brown to reddish-brown, round in cross-section and sometimes hairy. The leaves are generally egg-shaped, 1-3 inches long, have toothed margins and alternate along the stem. Clusters of attractive, rosy-pink flowers are borne at the tips of branches. Seeds, measuring about 1/10 inch in length, are contained in small lustrous capsules. Japanese spiraea is naturally variable in form and there are many varieties of it in the horticultural trade.

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Description and Biology

  • Plant: small, deciduous shrub, 4-6 ft. tall, brown to red-brown stems.
  • Leaves: alternate, oval to lance-shaped, 3-6 in. long, dark green above, pubescent on veins beneath, coarsely toothed margins.
  • Flowers, fruits and seeds: flowers small pink (rarely white) in dense branched umbel-like clusters at the tips of branches, July to August; fruits mature in the fall.
  • Spreads: by seed which is produced in abundance.
  • Look-alikes: native white meadowsweet (Spiraea alba) which has white flowers in narrow branched clusters; exotic invasive Thunberg’s meadowsweet (S. thunbergii) and bridalwreath spiraea (S. prunifolia).

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Description

Shrubs erect, to 1.5 m tall. Branchlets brownish to purple-brown, slender, subterete, glabrous or pubescent when young; buds ovoid, 3–5 mm, with several scales, puberulous, apex acute. Petiole 1–3 mm, pubescent; leaf blade abaxially paler or glaucous pruinose, adaxially dark green, ovate or ovate-elliptic to lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate, 2–16 × 1–4 cm, abaxially usually pubescent on veins, adaxially glabrous or puberulous on veins, base cuneate to rounded, margin crenate to doubly serrate, rarely singly serrate, apex obtuse or acute to acuminate. Corymbs terminal on erect, long, leafy shoots of current year, compound, 6–14 × 2.5–14 cm, many flowered; rachis and pedicels densely pubescent; pedicels 4–6 mm; bracts lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, sometimes to 1 cm, abaxially puberulous. Flowers 4–7 mm. Hypanthium campanulate, sparsely pubescent abaxially. Sepals triangular, 1.5–2 mm, erect in fruit, apex acute. Petals usually pink, sometimes white, ovate to orbicular, 2.5–3.5 × 2–3 mm, apex obtuse. Stamens 25–30, much longer than petals. Disk annular, irregularly crenulate. Follicles divergent, glabrous or pilose on adaxial suture; styles ascending. Fl. Jun–Jul, fr. Aug–Sep.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Shrub
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat in the United States

Japanese spiraea is adapted to disturbed areas, tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and grows in full sun to partial shade. It is commonly found growing along streams and rivers, forest edges, roadsides, and in successional fields and power line right-of-ways.

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Forests, forested slopes, forest clearings, thickets, grassy slopes, mountain valleys, gullies, river banks, alpine steppes, rocky and stony places also commonly cultivated; 700--4000 m.
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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

Biology and Spread

A single Japanese spiraea plant produces hundreds of small seeds that are naturally dispersed by water and deposited along stream banks. Seeds may also be carried in fill dirt and establish new populations in the highly disturbed soil of construction sites.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Spiraea japonica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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Management

Prevention and Control

Do not plant this species. Cutting may be effective for small populations or environmentally sensitive areas. Repeated mowing or cutting will control the spread of spiraea but will not eradicate it. Systemic herbicides containing glyphosate or triclopyr are effective.

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These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Ecological Threat in the United States

Japanese spiraea can rapidly take over disturbed areas. Growing populations creep into meadows, forest openings, and other sites. Once established, spiraea grows rapidly and forms dense stands that outcompete much of the existing native herbs and shrubs. Seeds of Japanese spiraea last for many years in the soil, making its control and the restoration of native vegetation especially difficult.

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Ecological Threat in the United States

Japanese meadowsweet grows rapidly and can form dense stands, filling in open areas and creating dense shade. It displaces native plants and impedes native seedlings.

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Wikipedia

Spiraea japonica

Spiraea japonica (Japanese spiraea) is a plant in the family Rosaceae.[1] Synonyms for the species name are Spiraea bumalda Burv. and Spiraea japonica var. alpina Maxim.[2]

Description[edit]

Spiraea japonica is one of several Spiraea shrubs with alternate, simple leaves, on wiry, freely branching, erect stems. Stems are brown to reddish-brown, round in cross-section and sometimes hairy. The shrub reaches 1.2 m to almost 2 m in height and about the same in width. The deciduous leaves are generally an ovate shape about 2.5 cm to 7.5 cm long, have toothed margins, and alternate along the stem. Clusters of rosy-pink flowers are found at the tips of the branches. The seeds measure about 2.5 mm in length and are found in small lustrous capsules.[2]

It is naturally variable in form and there are many varieties of it in the horticulture trade. So far, nine varieties have been described within the species.[2]

Distribution[edit]

Flower of Japanese spiraea in Japan

Spiraea japonica is a deciduous, perennial shrub native to Japan, China, and Korea. Southwest China is the center for biodiversity of the species.[2] It is naturalized throughout much of the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest areas of the United States, and parts of Canada.[3]

Habitat[edit]

A common habitat for S. japonica in general seems to be in riparian areas, bogs, or other wetland habitats. It is found growing along streams, rivers, forest edges, roadsides, successional fields, and power line right-of-ways. It prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. It prefers lots of water during the growing season; however, it cannot tolerate saturated soils for extended periods of time. It prefers a rich, moist loam, but it can grow in a wide variety of soils, including those on the alkaline side.[2]

Uses[edit]

Spiraea japonica was introduced in North America as an ornamental landscape plant and first cultivated in the northeastern states around 1870.[3]

Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use. The tall forms may be grown as hedges, low screens, or foundation shrubs. The low-growing forms can be used as groundcover or in borders. In cultivation in the UK, the following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-

  • 'Candlelight'[4]      
  • 'Dart's Red'[5]
  • 'Golden Princess'[6]      
  • 'Magic Carpet' [7]

S. japonica has been used as traditional medicine by native people, and extracts from the plants were found to be bioactive.[2]

Invasiveness[edit]

Spiraea japonica has become naturalized in North America and occupies habitats similar to those of native spireas. It aggressively invades disturbed areas and forms dense stands that outcompete native species. It often spreads locally when its hardy seeds are transported along watercourses or in fill dirt.[2]

Once established, S. japonica grows quickly and forms dense stands that outcompete much of the existing native herbs and shrubs. The seeds can last for many years in the soil, making its control and the restoration of native vegetation especially difficult. Growing populations will creep into meadows, forest openings, and other sites.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Spiraea japonica". floridata.com. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Spiraea japonica (shrub)". Invasive Species Specialist Group. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  3. ^ a b "Japanese spiraea". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  4. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Spiraea japonica 'Candlelight'". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Spiraea japonica 'Dart's Red'". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Spiraea japonica Golden Princess 'Lisp'". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Spiraea japonica Magic Carpet 'Walbuma'". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Spiraea japonica 'Nana'". Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
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Notes

Comments

Eight varieties may be recognized in China. In addition, Spiraea japonica var. stellaris Rehder (in Sargent, Pl. Wilson. 1: 452. 1913) was described on the basis of a fruiting specimen (A. Henry 9280) from SE Yunnan (Mengzi Xian).
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