A less common ornamental shrub that is versatile; fast-growing and has many attributes that make it ideal for the home gardener or the permaculture enthusiast alike. It is disease resistant, ideal for hedges, grows in a variety of soils, takes various moisture levels, and sun to part shade. Leaves turn shades of yellow, orange, and red in fall, while displaying distinctive bright red fruits. Easily identified in that its bark falls off in strips, said to have “nine lives”
Ninebark attracts bees, butterflies, and beetles as well as birds.
Grows 3-9′ with multiple woody stems, often recurved and divided into smaller stems.
Dramatic round flower clusters 2-3″ across bloom for 2-3 weeks in late spring/early summer. In late summer fruits develop, although very dry and seedy. Seeds can result in new shrubs.
Throughout Eastern and Central North America, ninebark can be seen growing in thickets, bluffs, cliffs, and rocky banks of streams.
Closely related to the more widely known Spiraea species, having similar fruits. Fruits are not edible, blooms are relatively short but showy, and bark appears shredded, as the bark peels reveal nine shades of brown. The flowers are a nectar and pollen source for many insects, including butterflies, bees, flies, and wasps. Other insects feed on various parts of the ninebark as well.
Easy to grow and quite adaptable, full to partial sunlight, moist to dry locations. Rocky, sandy or loamy soils. The growth rate and size at maturity will depend on soil fertility and moisture however.