E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Spiraea betulifolia Pall.
White Meadow-sweet (birch-leaved spirea; Prairie Wedgegrass; white spirea)
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Adolf Ceska  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11500)

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Distribution of Spiraea betulifolia
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Species Information

Low shrub, 20-60 (90) cm tall, from long creeping rhizome; stems erect, smooth, with thin wiry branches.
Alternate, deciduous, short-stalked, oval to oblong-egg-shaped, 2-7 cm long, coarsely double-toothed mostly above the middle, dark green above, paler below, smooth.
Inflorescence a branched, nearly flat-topped, terminal cluster of numerous small flowers; corollas white, sometimes pink-tinged, the petals 5, circular, about 2 mm long; calyces smooth on the outside, 5-lobed, the lobes triangular, erect to spreading, about 1 mm long; ovaries superior; stamens numerous.
Follicles, usually 5, about 3 mm long, beaked, somewhat leathery, smooth except sometimes a few long hairs along the suture, shining; seeds several, spindle-shaped.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry to moist open forests, rocky slopes and clearings in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; common throughout BC east (mostly) of the Coast-Cascade Mountains and S of 56degreeN; S to CA, MT and ID.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Spiraea betulifolia

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 6 1066 2854
Slope Gradient (%) 0 26 244
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 196 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(12), BG(12), BWBS(295), CWH(42), ESSF(792), ICH(1902), IDF(2397), MH(4), MS(1481), PP(158), SBPS(263), SBS(2020), SWB(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, sub montane to subalpine, Asian and Cordilleran North Ameri­can (marginally Central) deciduous shrub. Occurs in continental boreal and cool temper­ate climates on very dry to moderately dry, nitrogen-medium soils; its occurrence in­~reases with increasing continentality and jecreases with increasing latitude and pre­~ipitation. Common, often plentiful. in semi­Jpen forests (persists on cutover areas) on lJater-shedding sites in the eastern part of the ~oast-interior ecotone. Usually associated with \cer glabrum, Amelanchier alnifolia, Aster ~onspicuus, Calamagrostis rubescens, Mahonia lquifolium, Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, and ;hepherdia canadensis. Characteristic of ontinental forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)

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