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prairie dropwort, queen-of-the-prairie

meadow dropwort, meadowsweet, queen of the meadow

Habit Plants strongly rhizomatous, forming irregular patches, 12–25 dm. Plants cespitose, 12–17 dm.

horizontal, thin, 2.5–3 mm wide, internodes 3–7 cm;

root tubers absent.

horizontal, stout, 5–10 mm wide, internodes 1–2 cm;

root tubers absent.



sparsely curly-puberulous distally or glabrous.


basal 1 or 2, deciduous by flowering;

stipules ovate to elliptic, 1–1.5 cm, base auriculate;

lateral leaflets in 1–5 pairs, remote, ovate to elliptic, to 9 cm, palmately 2–3-lobed, lobes lanceolate, margins serrate or doubly serrate;

terminal leaflets round, 10–15 cm diam., palmately 7–9-lobed, lobes oblanceolate to lanceolate, margins doubly serrate, apex acute to acuminate, surfaces hairy at least on veins, hairs appressed, straight, short, 0.5 mm, or adaxial glabrous.

basal 1 or 2, deciduous by flowering;

stipules ovate, 0.6–1 cm, base auriculate;

lateral leaflets in 2–4 pairs, remote, with smaller intermediate leaflets between them, ovate to elliptic, 2–6 cm, margins doubly serrate;

terminal leaflets round, 3–7 cm diam., palmately 3–5-lobed, lobes ovate to lanceolate, margins doubly serrate, apex acute to acuminate, surfaces hairy at least on nerves, hairs appressed, straight to curly, short, or abaxial grayish tomentose.



branches and pedicels glabrous.


branches and pedicels glabrous or tomentose to tomentulose.


hypanthium slightly concave;

sepals (4–)5(–6), purplish, spatulate to triangular, 1–3 mm, margins without midrib, abaxially glabrous, adaxially finely appressed-hairy or glabrous;

petals (4–)5(–6), pink to purple, orbiculate, 2.5–7 mm, claws distinct, short, base narrow, margins unevenly toothed;

stamens pink to purplish, about equal to or longer than petals.

hypanthium concave, becoming slightly convex in fruit;

sepals (4–)5(–6), green, spatulate to triangular, 2–3 mm, margins without or with weak midrib, abaxially tomentose puberulent, adaxially glabrous;

petals (4–)5(–6), white to cream, orbiculate to obovate, 2.5–5 mm, claws distinct, short, base narrow, margins entire;

stamens white, longer than petals.


3–7, flattened, oblanceolate, straight, 8–14 mm, glabrous;

stipes 0.5–1.5 mm;

styles 1–2 mm.

6–8, flattened, elongate, twisted, 3–6 mm, glabrous;


styles 1–1.5 mm.


= 14, 14+2B (Europe).

Filipendula rubra

Filipendula ulmaria

Phenology Flowering summer (Jun–Jul). Flowering summer (Jul).
Habitat Moist meadows and bogs, roadsides, ditches, often persistent in abandoned gardens Moist meadows, roadside and railway ditches, near abandoned houses
Elevation 0–1000 m [0–3300 ft] 0–500 m [0–1600 ft]

Filipendula rubra is widely planted as an ornamental and is known only in cultivation or as an escape in the northern part of the listed range (eastern Canada, Maine, New York) as well as in West Virginia. The species is related to the east Asian F. angustiloba (Turczaninow) Maximowicz and F. palmata (Pallas) Maximowicz; it was used by Native Americans for heart troubles and love potions (D. E. Moerman 1998). The plant probably contains salicylic acid (natural precursor to aspirin), which has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. It has been used to treat gout, influenza, rheumatism, arthritis, fever, and kidney and bladder problems. The root is rich in tannins; it is used as an astringent in the treatment of, for example, diarrhea, dysentery, and bleeding (S. Foster and J. A. Duke 1990).

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Filipendula ulmaria is cultivated as an ornamental and sometimes escapes. The species is fairly common and relatively persistent or locally spreading from old gardens and thoroughly established well into the wild at some locations in the Maritimes. The native range stretches from Atlantic Europe to eastern Siberia (basin of Lena River), and from the Arctic Circle to the Altai Mountains of southern Siberia.

Two or three varieties or subspecies are often recognized within Europe and Russia in Filipendula ulmaria in the broad sense. Among them, subsp. picbaueri (Podpěra) Smejkal represents a separate species, F. stepposa Juzepczuk, and does not occur in North America. Two other frequently used infraspecific names are subsp. denudata and subsp. ulmaria, the former sometimes also regarded as a separate species. The latter has abaxially grayish tomentose leaves; the former has leaves only minutely hairy along the nerves. The full spectrum of intermediates usually occurs within a single population, and both forms clearly belong to the same species (I. A. Schanzer 1994). Both of them may occur in North America as escapes from cultivation.

The flowers contain tannins and salicylates and are thought to reduce pain and fever, mildly. They have also been used to treat stomach complaints, such as heartburn. Some research in laboratory animals has been conducted to investigate their effectiveness for ulcers, but results are not conclusive. Some laboratory studies appear to show that the flowers and seeds contain a chemical similar to heparin. That and the salicylate component may have some inhibiting effect on blood clotting (O. D. Barnaulov and P. P. Denisenko 1980; S. Foster and J. A. Duke 1990; B. A. Kudriashov et al. 1990, 1991). None of these properties have been documented by well-controlled clinical studies.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

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Parent taxa Rosaceae > subfam. Rosoideae > tribe Ulmarieae > Filipendula Rosaceae > subfam. Rosoideae > tribe Ulmarieae > Filipendula
Sibling taxa
F. occidentalis, F. ulmaria, F. vulgaris
F. occidentalis, F. rubra, F. vulgaris
Synonyms Ulmaria rubra, F. lobata, Spiraea rubra, Thecanisia angustifolia, T. lobata, T. purpurea Spiraea ulmaria, F. denudata, F. ulmaria var. denudata, S. denudata, Thecanisia ulmaria
Name authority (Hill) B. L. Robinson: Rhodora 8: 204. (1906) (Linnaeus) Maximowicz: Trudy Imp. S.-Peterburgsk. Bot. Sada 6: 251. (1879)
Source Flora of North America vol. 9, p. 25. Flora of North America vol. 9, p. 26.
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