Friday, March 20, 2009

Little white firecracker: Bridalwreath Spiraea

I have sort of neglected The Variegated Thumb this week.  This doesn't mean that I wasn't constantly thinking about plants, though.  I was just really busy with work and other things.  But don't fear!  I'm not running out of content; I have plenty more.  The world surrounding me is sprouting green and purple and white and pink and yellow.  Right now the Redbud trees are absolutely gorgeous, at their fullest and deepest purples and pinks.  I'm taking lots of pictures and will be sharing them next month.

Last week I saw a bush in a neighbor's yard that I had never noticed before.  True to form, I started seeing them all over town.  After a little internet research and a tip from someone at the Name That Plant forum, the plant was identified as Spiraea prunifolia (Bridalwreath Spiraea).  In a way it looks a lot like the common flower arrangement supplement, Baby's breath.  The white flowers are small and round, borne on long, dainty stems.

Spiraea prunifolia in bloom
I have planted a small Spiraea planted along my blooming bush fence line.  I am calling it the "little white firecracker."  I like to use botanical names, but I also can't help from giving a plant a good nickname.  [After all, my dogs, named Pee-Wee and Pippa, are usually called Pig and Squeaks!]

My small Spiraea prunifolia along the blooming bush fence line
Soon this fence line will be a long row of pink quince, pink almond and white Spiraea.  I might even add a yellow Forsythia to the mix.

Spirea is in the botanical family of Rosaceae, which also includes my flowering quince bush (Chaenomeles speciosa), flowering almond bush (Prunus glandulosa), and flowering peach tree (Prunus persica).  There are 100-160 genera in the Rosaceae family with as many as 4,000 total species.  Of course, the most famous genus from this family is Rosa - commonly called the Rose.

FYI: Spiraea is sometimes (mis)spelled Spirea, but those two spellings refer to the same plant.


  1. Love the Spireas, I had planted 20 of them when I lived in
    the city, they get more impressive as they grow larger.

  2. SOMETIMES misspelled? There's an understatement. LOL. Your region is ahead of us here in the Pacific Northwest. Cercis or Redbud are at least a month off. My Bridal wreath spiraea has buds but just can't seem to pick up enough steam to actually bloom. By the way I've always thought this particular spiraea is of the species "thunbergii." The way taxonomists are changing things these days, I could be wrong. Cheers.

  3. Grace-
    I believe you're right about this species being Spiraea thunbergii. It's funny that I thought this resembled Baby's Breath and that is apparently one of the common names used for S. thunbergii - Baby's breath Spiraea.

    As to the misspelling, I am kind of a stickler for spelling, but I hate to condemn everyone else for following what they see everywhere. "Spirea" is written all over the place that I don't blame anyone for misspelling it!