Scientific Name:Spiraea (Each variety having a different name)
About this Herb:Spiraea is a genus of about 80-100 species of shrubs in the family Rosaceae. They are native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere, with the greatest diversity in eastern Asia.
Spiraea plants are hardy, deciduous-leaved shrubs. The leaves are simple and usually short stalked in an alternate (i.e. spiral) arrangement. In most species, the leaves are narrowly oval and about 1 to 4 inches (2.5 to 10 cm) long. The leaf margins are usually toothed, occasionally cut or lobed, and rarely smooth. Stipules are absent.
The many small flowers of Spiraea shrubs are clustered together forming an umbrella-like or grape-like cluster. The radial symmetry of each flower is five-fold, with the flowers usually bisexual, rarely unisexual. The flowers have five sepals and five white, pink, or reddish petals that are usually longer than the sepals. Each flower has many (15 to 60) stamens.
Uses:Spiraea is too woody to be used as an edible plant, but has a long history of medicinal use by Native Americans as an herbal tea.
Spiraea shrubs contain methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) and other salicylates throughout the plant, compounds with similar medicinal properties to aspirin. Unlike such other salicylate-bearing plants as Willow (Salix) or Poplar (Populus), Spiraea's content of these analgesic compounds appears to be consistent from plant to plant. The salicylates in this plant are considered to be highly effective as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and fever reducer, without the side effects attributed to aspirin. Unlike aspirin, Spiraea is effective in treating stomach disorders in minute amounts.