(Spiraea tomentosa) Rose family

Flowers - Pink or magenta, rarely white, very small, in dense,

pyramidal clusters. Calyx of 5 sepals; corolla of 5 rounded

petals; stamens, 20 to 60; usually 5 pistils, downy. Stem: 2 to 3

ft. high, erect, shrubby, simple, downy. Leaves: Dark green

above, covered with whitish woolly hairs beneath; oval,

saw-edged, 1 to 2 in. long.

Preferred Habitat - Low moist ground, roadside ditches, swamps.

Flowering Season - July-September.

Distribution - Nova Scotia westward, and southward to Georgia and


These bright spires of pink bloom attract our attention no less

than the countless eyes of flies, beetles, and bees, ever on the

lookout for food to be eaten on the spot or stored up for future

progeny. Pollen-feeding insects such as these, delight in the

spireas, most of which secrete little or no nectar, but yield an

abundance of pollen, which they can gather from the crowded

panicles with little loss of time, transferring some of it to the

pistils, of course, as they move over the tiny blossoms. But most

spireas are also able to fertilize themselves, insects failing


An instant's comparison shows the steeple bush to be closely

related to the fleecy, white meadow-sweet, often found growing

near. The pink spires, which bloom from the top downward, have

pale brown tips where the withered flowers are, toward the end of


Why is the under side of the leaves so woolly? Not as a

protection against wingless insects crawling upward, that is

certain; for such could only benefit these tiny clustered

flowers. Not against the sun's rays, for it is only the under

surface that is coated. When the upper leaf surface is hairy, we

know that the plant is protected in this way from perspiring too

freely. Doubtless these leaves of the steeple bush, like those of

other plants that choose a similar habitat, have woolly hairs

beneath as an absorbent to protect their pores from clogging with

the vapors that must rise from the damp ground where the plant

grows. If these pores were filled with moisture from without, how

could they possibly throw off the waste of the plant? All plants

are largely dependent upon free perspiration for health, but

especially those whose roots, struck in wet ground, are

constantly sending up moisture through the stem and leaves.

HAIRY RUELLIA HERB ROBERT RED ROBIN RED SHANKS DRAGON'S BLOOD facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail