Also called meadowsweet, mead wort, and bridewort, this herbaceous perennial is a native of Europe and western Asia where it grows in damp meadows and along stream and river banks, but has naturalized in eastern North America and is considered a noxious weed in some areas. It is a member of the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes cherry, almonds, and lady’s mantle. Growing 3-6′ tall, plants form upright clumps with branched furrowed, red to purplish stems bearing pinnately compound leaves with 7-9 leaflets. The leaflets are dark green on the upper side and downy on the underside. Early to mid summer, terminal, irregularly branched, cymes of small creamy white flowers appear. The cymes are 4-6″ across and the flowers are fragrant and have 5 petals and 5 sepals. Queen of the meadow is a good choice for a rain garden, the flowers are good in fresh arrangements and the seedheads in dried arrangements. The genus name, Filipendula, comes from the Latin words filum, meaning thread, and pendulus, meaning hanging and refers to the root tubers that hang on fibrous roots in some species. The specific epithet, ulmaria, comes from the Latin name for elms, Ulmus, and refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those of elms.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Bloom: Irregularly branched, terminal cymes 4-6″ across of small creamy white flowers from early to mid summer.
Size: 3-6′ H x 1-3′ W
Light: Full sun; afternoon shade in hot climates
Soil: Average, constantly moist, well-drained, alkaline
Hardiness: Zones 3-9
Care: Low maintenance
Pests and Diseases: Mildew, rust
Propagation: Seed sown in fall in cold frame, division in fall or winter
Companion Plants: Canna, Joe Pye weed, turtlehead, swamp milkweed
‘Aurea’ (Golden yellow foliage)
‘Flore-Plena’ (Snow white, double flowers; 4-6’ H)
‘Variegata’ (Yellow variegated; 4’ tall)