J is for (Spiraea) Japonica

Ms. Flora is a bit miffed. Spiraea japonica, known as spiraea, spirea and Japanese meadowsweet, is not a native species. We try, we really do, to bring you our Virginia and North American natives first, but in keeping with the alphabetizing of the Blogging From A to Z Challenge, we needed a ‘J’. And not just any ‘J’, a ‘J’ that is woody-stemmed and a food source for bee species? (See, we squirrels do stick to some of our rules!)

Does anyone out there know of a native ‘J’–woody plant, that is? (How about a ‘K’? Struggling harder with that one!)

So here we go with Japonica:

See, a native bumblebee! They love it! Plus, spiraea blooms from June into July, in the heat of summer when flowers start to be in shorter supply for bees.

Spiraea is listed on Buzz About Bees’ list of flowering shrubs for bees, which is what caught our attention, even though we leap by numerous bushes every day and have noted the bees on them previously on The Squirrel Network. Right, we didn’t think them as valued for bees, and maybe you didn’t either–but now you can!

Different cultivars are available that grow different heights, so check what you buy and prune accordingly. They like a sunny location and will grow better there as proven by the stunted nature of these ones closer to the pin oak.

In loose bunches, they make a lovely tangled escape for us squirrels (and songbirds!), though the chipmunks living in this mound get a bit grumpy when we dash in.


Purchase plants and seeds from a known source that does not use pesticides / insecticides, particularly neonicotinoids. They are not safe for honeybees and native bees. Watch this bee researcher’s Ted Talk to learn more about bees, why they are dying and how you can help:

Marla Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing


4 thoughts on “J is for (Spiraea) Japonica

    • You’re correct! It does spread by seed and root runners. And it’s not native. Maybe someday spiraea will be on those invasive lists like burning bush and butterfly bush. Thanks for reminding us to note this!

  1. We have a similar bush — it grew from the neighbour’s to us via root runners. It’s gorgeous, though, so it can stay. And the hares like it too 🙂

    Ronel visiting from the A-Z Challenge with Music and Writing: Great Music and Lyrics

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