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Native Shrub ID

Boomer N
2 days ago
last modified: 2 days ago

I live about 100 miles south of KC, Missouri. I am looking for help identifying this shrub that I believe is native. It's about 4 ft tall and 6ft wide. It is in bloom currently along with a bunch of wild plums so it's an early plant. It has a bunch of small almost rose like white flowers, but no thorns, so not sure if it's in rose family. Any help is greatly appreciated.

Comments (17)

  • jekeesl (south-central Arkansas)

    It reminds me of Spiraea cantoniensis, but you are well outside of the expected range for that species.

  • dbarron

    Yes, it looks like a spirea, and I doubt it's a native.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

    There's no doubt as to its being a Spiraea. The question is which one? S prunifolia 'Plena' is similar. Not native.

  • Boomer N

    Thanks for the feedback. It's way back in my river bottom understory so I'm a bit surprised it's surviving. Only one I've seen on my acreage so at least it's not prolific. Pretty little plant but I'll probably remove it next time I battle in my never ending war with invasives primarily: sericea lespedeza, multiflora rose, autumn olive and japanese honeysuckle (fortunately no bush honeysuckle yet)! I have a couple more trees and shrubs I can't quite ID so I may post a few more pictures soon. Thanks again for all the help!

  • windberry

    " Pretty little plant but I'll probably remove it "

    Quite sad. A little bit of biodiversity could not do harm. To my knowledge the only Spirea that may be considered invasive is S. japonica, although I may be wrong.

  • fatamorgana2121

    S. japonica is the only spirea my state lists with an invasive rating: http://nyis.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/NYS-INVASIVE-PLANT-RANKS_March-2013.pdf

    But I would not be sad in its removal. Native species support native birds, insects, and more. Your alien species, not so much or not at all. Articles and research that have been done on this are easy to find. Look for anything that mentions Doug Tallamy and birds.

  • windberry

    I would rather worry about all those herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, termiticides, miticides, nematicides, molluscicids, piscicides, avicides, rodenticides, bactericides, insect repellents, animal repellents, antimicrobials, fungicides, mono-culture agriculture, clearcuting first, before I start worrying about how much harm can be done by one, lonely, little, non-invasive Spirea plant growing, to its misfortune, where it was not planted.

  • dbarron

    What I have found is that bridal wreath spirea is one of those legacy plants that can last 50 years past when the house it was planted at, rotted down and disappeared. So, it may be right where it was originally planted.

  • Old Forester ( Zones 8a-6a ) Ga/NC

    I occasionally run across these in isolated areas from long ago abandoned homesteads in central Ga. They spread in the open area from where planted but don't invade the woods. Must have been a popular plant in the day.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    And non-native species can support a lot of wildlife as well, often just as much as native species do. IME, if it produces a berry or drupe, the birds will eat it regardless of where it origiated! And often, weeds are some of the best plants for attracting pollinators and beneficial insects, yet routinely get pulled or sprayed. It's not so much a clear cut natives versus non-natives issue as it is evaluating each plant on a case by case basis. Spiraea is attractive to bees, butterflies and night pollinators....and not just the native species of spiraea :)

    And I support windberry's contention 100%!!

  • Embothrium

    Definitely Spiraea prunifolia. This double Japanese garden version was seen in the West ahead (ca. 1845) of the original species native to China, named therefore as the wild species ('Plena' is a synonym). With the wild plant being differentiated later as f. simpliciflora. Other examples of such reverse naming, also dating from antique times include Phyllostachys nigra (black-stemmed variant, introduced 1827) and P. nigra f. henonis (wild green parent, being grown by 1890), Rose banksiae (double garden form, introduced in 1807) and R. banksiae var. normalis (single-flowered wild species, introduced to the unsuitably cold and dull summers of Scotland in 1796, not coming to light until cuttings of this planting flowered during 1909 in Nice), and so on, through the list.

  • fatamorgana2121

    It is a no brainer, native plants are better for native fauna as evolution over countless generations has made it that way. If you love birds, butterflies, and every other native animal, go check the research done. I linked one article on it above but more in depth info is available if you really want to dig into it. Invasive or not, non-natives are not going to support the ecosystem and its indigenous inhabitants as well as natives and in some cases, not at all.

  • Embothrium

    And presumably a double flowered form like the one discussed here is not going to offer much to pollinators.

    Some years ago it was determined that native songbirds prefer native tree species at the Seattle arboretum, spend less time in foreign ones even when these are in the same genus. However we also have native band-tailed pigeons eating ivy berries in this region and robins going for cotoneaster fruits when other sources of moisture are frozen. Which will of course have a lot to do with how these plants have become so pervasive here.

  • gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

    I can list all manner of nonnative plants and shrubs that are attractive to wildlife and support pollinators so blanketly stating that natives are superior in this regard is misleading at best.

  • texasranger2

    Embothrium brought up an interesting fact. If this species was brought west as early as 1854 it made me wonder about the history of your place. Who planted it and when? If it was me, I'd be interested to know if this is an old homestead that was abandoned. We have many abandoned homesteads and dying small towns here in Oklahoma and it always makes me wonder about the lives of the people when I see the irises still blooming in spring or a forsythia bush or a spirea. Its common to see such plants in small abandoned cemetery's which tells bits of the human story.

    Personally I don't believe all non-native plants should be deemed detrimental to the environment. Sometimes there is some interesting history in these plants which represent a rural way of life which is almost gone. Not to get into a political tangle but I am saddened by the current attitude of many people and their attempts to erase or rewrite history in America concerning statues and memorials being torn down along with promoting an attitude that "whites" are evil which is taking place in our universities.

    In other words, there are different trains of thought because there are usually many sides to every issue.

    Maybe it doesn't offer much to pollinators but still, its a lovely sight and the romantic in me wonders if it possibly represents a bit of history of your property about people long gone. If its not invasive, what it the actual harm? I suppose it depends on how much of a technical purist you are but I always keep in mind some things are good for the soul, like beauty.

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