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Baby's Breath Spirea

Spiraea thunbergii


Baby's breath spirea is a graceful and wispy little shrub with a very fine texture - even by spirea standards. The slender wiry branches arch outward and nod downward, forming a twiggy, multistemmed mound 5-6ft (1.5-1.8 m) tall and about as wide. The semideciduous pale green leaves are thin and wispy, too; they are almost linear, a little more than 1 in (2.5 cm) long and 1/4 in (0.6 cm) wide, with a few coarse teeth along the margins. The dainty pure white five-petaled flowers are borne singly or in clusters of two or three along the stems. They are about a 1/3 in (0.8 cm) across and appear before the new leaves in late winter or early spring, often covering the whole shrub.


Baby's breath spirea is native to China and Japan. It is a popular landscape shrub in Japan and the southeastern U.S.


Growing on a wooded drive near an old church - Looked naturalized or "escaped" but is possibly remnant of old landscaping

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QWMom 8 years ago

Added genus suggestion but would appreciate additional help!

See also spotting :

QWMom 8 years ago

Thanks for trying! This one has me stumped too -- and I can identify A LOT of ornamentals pretty easily, or at least ball park it with genus and then narrow it down. I can't find anything that matches this quite right.
Spiraea has been the closest - but still no cigar, or at least not close enough for me to feel comfortable that's the right genus.

chesterbperry 8 years ago

Well I have been wrong before, but we can definitely say it is in the Rosaceae family. Maybe if you can get some additional shots when it leafs out, might help narrow it down. I can try running it by my brother, he is a florist.

QWMom 8 years ago

I will keep looking for a shrub that matches up via Prunus then - you haven't steered me wrong yet! :)
This is a plant that I see around old churches and cemeteries a lot so it makes me think it's an "escapee." I wonder if there's a web site out that that identifies plants that were popular during the Victorian era in funeral arrangements or as altar flowers??

chesterbperry 8 years ago

It is probably an ornamental variety, of which some are quite small flowered and used for bonsai. It may not be a true plum but fairly certain it is in the same subgenus of Prunus.

QWMom 8 years ago

I really ought to have used a coin or something for scale, because these flowers and stems are really, really tiny. (The dimensions would be excellent for bonsai!) Also, I should have said "fountain" instead of weeping. It has lots of very thin suckers going up and arching over - like the forsythia it was growing near. The whole plant was only about 3-4 feet tall, and there were several small sprigs of new plants coming up nearby that were only 6-12 inches tall and covered with the same tiny leaves and flowers.

Spotted by

Georgia, USA

Spotted on Mar 4, 2013
Submitted on Mar 5, 2013

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