PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Western Spiraea (Spiraea douglasii)

Mid July is the time to take a scenic drive out of the city and view all the wonderful flowering wild things. One of them is Western Spiraea. You’ll see it frequently in or near roadside ditches where it enjoys whatever water our summers have to offer. If you travel near streams, rivers, or wetlands you’ll see loads of it. If you see a stand of it without any apparent water nearby, you can bet that’s a very wet spot the other 9 months of the year.

Western Spiraea likes to be near moist areas, but this also includes seasonally moist areas (called vernal pools) that are bone dry only during summer and early autumn. It is a good choice for rain gardens in an urban setting or anywhere in the yard that stays wet in winter & spring. It forms groups of stems 4 or 5 feet tall topped with narrow cones of very fuzzy looking, bright magenta tiny blooms. Small birds safely live and hide among the towers of leaves and stems. They feast on seeds after blooming is done, and wild bees and flies enjoy the abundant nectar when the flowers are ripe. The flowers are also good for cutting in arrangements both fresh and dried.