Bill Johnson

Japanese Meadowsweet

Spiraea japonica L. f.
Rose family (Rosaceae)

Origin: Japan, Korea and China

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.

Distribution and Habitat
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.

Ecological Threat
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.

Description and Biology

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 (see Control Options).

Native Alternatives
White meadowsweet (Spiraea alba), ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), silky dogwood (Cornus amomum), Virginia sweetspire (Itea virginica), and leatherleaf (Dirca palustris) are some great substitutes for this invasive plant.


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Last updated:11-Nov-2010