Page authors: Ben Legler, David Giblin
Physocarpus capitatus
Pacific ninebark

Distribution: Occurring chiefly west of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east to Idaho.

Habitat: Moist woods and swamps in the lower mountains.

Flowers: May-June

Origin: Native

Growth Duration: Perennial

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bees


Spreading to erect shrub 2-4 m. tall, the branches angled, usually glabrous.


Leaves alternate, petiolate, the blades ovate to cordate, 3-5 lobed, the lobes bi-serrate, 4-8 cm. long and broad, dark green and glabrous above and paler below, with stellate hairs.


Flowers rather numerous in terminal clusters; calyx hemispheric, with stellate hairs, the 5 lobes ovate-lanceolate, 3 mm. long, somewhat reflexed; petals 5, white, sub-orbicular, 4 mm. long, spreading; stamens about 30, equaling the petals; pistils 3-5, attached to each other only at the base, mostly glabrous.


Fruit a glabrous follicle, 7-11 mm. long, swollen.

Accepted Name:
Physocarpus capitatus (Pursh) Kuntze
Publication: Revisio Generum Plantarum 1: 219. 1891.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
Neillia capitata Greene
Neillia opulifolia var. mollis Brew & Wats.
Opulaster capitatus Kuntze
Opulaster opulifolius (L.) Maxim. var. capitatus Jeps.
Physocarpa tomentosa Raf.
Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim. var. tomentellus (Ser.) B. Boivin
Spiraea capitata Pursh
Spiraea opulifolia var. mollis T. & G.
Spiraea opulifolia var. tomentella Ser.
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Physocarpus capitatus in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database

WA Flora Checklist: Physocarpus capitatus checklist entry

OregonFlora: Physocarpus capitatus information

E-Flora BC: Physocarpus capitatus atlas page

CalPhotos: Physocarpus capitatus photos

42 photographs:
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