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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Physocarpus capitatus

Pacific Ninebark

Flowering Period: May, Jun May June
Flower color: white
Full sun Mostly sunny Partial sun
Wet soil Moist soil


At a Glance: Erect to spreading shrub up to 4 meters tall with clusters of white flowers.

Height: Up to 13 feet (4 meters).
Growth Form: Shrub.
Stems: Brown shredding peeling bark.
Leaves: Alternate, deciduous, 3-6 cm (1-2.5 in) long, 3-5 lobed, the lobes toothed, deeply veined, shiny dark-green above, lighter and with abundant star-shaped hairs below (use hand lens); color: dark green.
Flowers: White, small, 5 petals, about 30 pink stamens; several to many in terminal, rounded clusters; size: 4 mm long.
Flowering Period: May, June.
Fruits: Reddish bunches of dried inflated follicles to 1 cm long, with yellowish, shiny seeds inside.

Physocarpus capitatus
Photo © 2003, Starflower Foundation
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Sun/Shade Tolerance Hydrology Elevation Range
full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%

wet
moist
dry

Wetland Indicator Status:
FACW (facultative wetland)
low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
sandy soils
gravelly soils
clay soils
muddy soils
peaty soils
well drained soils
shallow soils
deep soils
acidic soils
basic soils
humic soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
mineral soils
organic soils

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover

Birds: Fruits eaten by birds.
Mammals: Twigs, buds and foliage are browsed by herbivores.


Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts
Material Uses: The Nuu-chah-nulth made childrens bows and other small items from the wood. The Cowichan recently made knitting needles from it.
Medicinal Uses: The Nuxalk, Coast Salish and Kwakwakawakw used a tea made from a stick with the outer bark peeled off as an emetic or purgative. It was also used as a laxative. The Nuxalk used medicinal preparations from ninebark for gonorrhea and scrofulous sores on the neck.
Toxicity: Bark toxic.

Landscape Uses: Excellent soil-binding properties. Good yellow fall color.
Name Info: The species is called ninebark because it was believed to have nine layers of shreddy bark on the stem. Greek physa (bellows or bladder) and carpos (fruit) is used to describe the inflated follicles. Capitatus is Latin for head describing the round flower clusters.


Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.