Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A genus of rosaceous plants, type of Spiræeæ. It is characterized by fruit commonly of five follicles, containing usually numerous linear seeds with a membranous or rarely coriaceous outer seed-coat and little or no albumen. The flowers have four or five calyx-lobes, as many rounded petals, twenty to sixty filiform stamens, and a smooth or woolly fleshy disk. The Himalayan S. parvifolia is an exception in its solitary seeds and obconical calyx. There are about 50 species, widely scattered through temperate and cold regions of the northern hemisphere, and occurring rarely on mountains within the tropics. They are herbs or shrubs, bearing alternate simple pinnate or ternately compound leaves, usually furnished with free or wing-like and united stipules. The small white, pink, or rose-colored flowers form a copious axillary or terminal inflorescence, which is either a raceme, cyme, panicle, or corymb, or consists, as in
S. Aruncus, of a diffuse panicle composed of numerous elongated slender spikes. Most of the species are highly ornamental in flower. They are now most commonly known, especially in cultivation, by the generic name Spiræa. Eleven species are natives of Europe, 3 of which occur in England; of these S. Filipendula is the dropwort, and the others, S. salicifolia and S. Ulmaria, are known as meadow-sweet (the latter also as queen-of the-meadows, which see). Six species are natives of the northeastern United States, of which S. salicifolia is the most widely distributed, a shrub with slender ascending spire-like branches, popularly known in the west as steeplebush, in America usually with white flowers, in Europe, Siberia, Mongolia, and Japan pink or rose-colored. It is often cultivated, especially in Russia, where a great many varieties have originated; in Wales it forms a large part of the hedges. For S. tomentosa, a similar pink-flowered eastern species, see hardhack; its representative on the Pacific coast, S. Douglasii, with handsome whitened leaves, is one of the most showy of American shrubs. For S. lobata, see queen-of-the prairie, and for S. Aruncus, goat's-beard; the latter is one of the most ornamental plants of eastern woodland borders. For S. hypericifolia, common in cultivation from Europe and Siberia, and also called Italian mayand St. Peter's ureath, see bridal-wreath. Several species from Japan are now abundant in ornamental grounds, as S. Japonica and its variety S. Fortunei, and S. prunifolia, the plum-leafed spiræa, a white-flowered shrub with handsome silky leaves. S. Thunbergii from Japan is much used in parks, forming a small diffuse shrub 2 or 3 feet high with light recurving branches whitened before the leaves with a profusion of small flowers usually in threes in the axils. Some Asiatic species with pinnate loaves and large terminal panicles of white flowers are arborescent, as S. sorbifolia, often seen as a shrub in New England dooryards, and S. Kamchatica, with the panicles very large, the flowers fragrant and feathery. The former S. opulifolia, the nlnebark, and its variety aurea, the golden spiræa of gardens, are now referred to Neillia, or by some separated as a genus Physocarpus. Many species possess moderate astringent or tonic properties; the roots of the British species are so used, and the flowers of S. hypericifolia; S. Ulmaria is valuable also as a diuretic. S. tomentosa, the principal American medicinal species, a plant of bitter and astringent taste, is used in New England and also formerly by the Indians as a tonic.
- n. A plant of this genus.
- n. The white-flowered shrub Astilbe Japonica, now extensively imported into the United States and propagated under glass, formingone of the chief materials of Easter decorations.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Bot.) A genus of shrubs or perennial herbs including the meadowsweet and the hardhack.
- n. any rosaceous plant of the genus Spiraea; has sprays of small white or pink flowers
- n. a Japanese shrub that resembles members of the genus Spiraea; widely cultivated in many varieties for its dense panicles of flowers in many colors; often forced by florists for Easter blooming
- n. a dicotyledonous genus of the family Rosaceae
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