Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4, vol. 1. 1754.

Common names: Meadowsweet dropwort filipendule
Etymology: Latin filum, thread, and pendulus, hanging, alluding to root tubers of F. vulgaris hanging together with threads
Synonyms: Thecanisia Rafinesque Ulmaria Miller
Treatment appears in FNA Volume 9. Treatment on page 23. Mentioned on page 20, 24, 27.

Herbs, perennial, 5–25 dm; rhizomatous. Stems 1–10, erect, simple, leafy, glabrous or hairy. Leaves deciduous by or persistent to flowering, basal and cauline; stipules ovate to elliptic or round, herbaceous, base auriculate or not, margins dentate; petiole present; blade pinnate, 10–40 cm, herbaceous, lateral leaflets 1–17 pairs (with smaller, interspersed leaflets between them in F. ulmaria), sometimes absent (in F. occidentalis), lanceolate or ovate to elliptic, unlobed or palmately lobed, terminal leaflets palmately 3–9-lobed, margins flat, dentate, serrate, or doubly serrate, abaxial surface glabrous or sparsely short-hairy to tomentose, adaxial glabrous or sparsely short-hairy. Inflorescences terminal, usually 100+-flowered, dense to lax, corymbiform panicles with nearly erect proximal branches overtopping central axis (anthela), glabrous or hairy; bracts absent; bracteoles absent. Pedicels present. Flowers 8–15 mm diam.; hypanthium 1 mm, glabrous; sepals (4–) 5–6 (–9), reflexed, spatulate to triangular; petals (4–) 5–6 (–9), white to cream or pink to purple, oblanceolate or obovate to orbiculate; stamens 20–30, shorter to longer than petals; carpels stipitate or sessile, glabrous or ciliate to hirsute, styles persistent. Fruits aggregated achenes, 3–18, ± flattened, lanceolate to oblanceolate, 3–14 mm, margins ciliate or glabrous, faces hairy or glabrous; hypanthium persistent, in some species becoming convex in fruit; sepals persistent, reflexed. x = 7.


North America, Eurasia, n Africa, in Pacific Islands (New Zealand), Australia


Species 15 (4 in the flora).

According to the results of molecular phylogenetic researches (D. R. Morgan et al. 1994; T. Eriksson et al. 2003), Filipendula is phylogenetically the basal genus of subfam. Rosoideae. This readily explains its previously controversial and long-disputed position in Rosaceae; for a long time Filipendula was regarded as part of Spiraea (C. J. Maximowicz 1879; D. B. O. Savile 1968). No taxon closely related to Filipendula is known.

The inflorescence shape is one of the most characteristic features of the genus; it is called an anthela and represents a corymbiform panicle with the proximal branches nearly upright and long overriding the central axis of the inflorescence (A. A. Fedorov and Z. Artjuschenko 1979).

A number of species of Filipendula are used as ornamentals. They have attractive, dense inflorescences of pink to purplish or white flowers and rather decorative, deeply dissected foliage. Among ornamental species, the Japanese F. ×purpurea Maximowicz, the North American F. rubra, and the Eurasian F. ulmaria are noteworthy; these are plants of wet habitats and are mostly used in gardens to fringe ponds. In F. ulmaria, cultivars with double flowers are known. Both F. ulmaria and F. vulgaris were introduced to North America by early colonists, probably as ornamentals.

Filipendula ulmaria is of interest as a medicinal plant; its flowers contain tannins, salicylates, and heparin-like compounds, and were tested for anti-inflammatory and antiulcer activities (O. D. Barnaulov and P. P. Denisenko 1980; B. A. Kudriashov et al. 1990, 1991). Filipendula rubra has been reported to have similar properties (S. Foster and J. A. Duke 1990).

Selected References



1 Root tubers present; basal leaves 3–6(–7), persistent to flowering; lateral leaflets in 7–17 pairs; petals (5–)6–7(–9); achenes densely appressed-hairy throughout. Filipendula vulgaris
1 Root tubers absent; basal leaves 1 or 2, deciduous by flowering; lateral leaflets in 1–5 pairs, sometimes absent in F. occidentalis; petals (4–)5(–6); achenes glabrous or sutures ciliate > 2
2 Petals pink to purple, margins unevenly toothed; plants strongly rhizomatous, forming irregular patches; lateral leaflets 2–3-lobed; terminal leaflets 7–9-lobed. Filipendula rubra
2 Petals white to cream, margins entire; plants cespitose or weakly rhizomatous; lateral leaflets not lobed; terminal leaflets 3–7-lobed > 3
3 Petals not clawed; lateral leaflets many times smaller than terminal, in 1–3 pairs or absent; terminal leaflets 5–7-lobed; plants weakly rhizomatous; hypanthia nearly flat; achenes straight, stipitate, sutures densely ciliate. Filipendula occidentalis
3 Petals clawed; lateral leaflets comparable in size with terminal, in 2–4 pairs; terminal leaflets 3–5-lobed; plants cespitose; hypanthia concave, becoming slightly convex in fruit; achenes twisted, sessile, glabrous. Filipendula ulmaria
... more about "Filipendula"
sparsely short-hairy +  and tomentose +
short-hairy +  and glabrous +
Ivan A. Schanzer +
Miller +
persistent +
compound +  and simple +
opposite +  and alternate +
not +  and auriculate +
10 cm100 mm <br />0.1 m <br /> (40 cm400 mm <br />0.4 m <br />) +
sessile +  and stipitate +
free +  and distinct +
ciliate +  and hirsute +
Meadowsweet +, dropwort +  and filipendule +
North America +, Eurasia +, n Africa +, in Pacific Islands (New Zealand) +  and Australia +
not +  and aggregated +
Latin filum, thread, and pendulus, hanging, alluding to root tubers of F. vulgaris hanging together with threads +
glabrous +  and hairy +
0.8 cm8 mm <br />0.008 m <br /> (1.5 cm15 mm <br />0.015 m <br />) +
unisexual +  and bisexual +
not +  and aggregated +
lanceolate +  and oblanceolate +
0.3 cm3 mm <br />0.003 m <br /> (1.4 cm14 mm <br />0.014 m <br />) +
1 cm10 mm <br />0.01 m <br /> (?) +
crassinucellate +
deciduous +
serrate +  and dentate +
glabrous +  and ciliate +
toothed +, unlobed +  and lobed +
inferior +  and superior +
clustered +, biseriate +  and superposed +
hairy +  and glabrous +
6 (?) +  and 9 (?) +
free +  and distinct +
5 +  and 6 +
adnate +, free +, connate +  and distinct +
Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. +
not arillate +
persistent +
free +  and distinct +
spatulate +  and triangular +
free +  and distinct +
shorter to longer +
leafy +  and simple +
1 +  and 10 +
pinnate +  and nearly palmate +
adnate +  and free +
persistent +
distinct +
terminal +  and subterminal +
not elongate +
Thecanisia +  and Ulmaria +
Filipendula +
Rosaceae tribe Ulmarieae +
inconspicuous +
enlarged +