These lush plants bear plumes of tiny flowers above large, coarsely divided leaves. Most species prefer moist to constantly damp soil. Use in borders, in naturalistic landscapes, beside ponds.
F. purpurea. JAPANESE MEADOWSWEET. From Japan. Pink, 3- to 4-ft.-tall plumes rise above maplelike, 5- to 7-in. leaves in clumps to 2 ft. across. 'Alba' (F. p. albiflora) has white plumes to 2 ft. tall. 'Elegans' is compact at 12 ft. tall; its white plumes have red stamens.
F. rubra. QUEEN OF THE PRAIRIE. Native to eastern U.S. Given plenty of moisture and rich soil, can reach 8 ft. high in bloom and about half as wide. Bears pink plumes. 'Venusta' has purplish pink flowers and is a little shorter, to 46 ft. high.
F. ulmaria. MEADOWSWEET, QUEEN OF THE MEADOW. From Europe, western Asia. To 46 ft. high and 2 ft. wide, with 10-in., creamy white plumes. 'Flore Pleno', just 3 ft. tall, has dense plumes of double white flowers; 'Variegata' is similar, but with gold-speckled leaves. 'Aurea' is grown not for flowers but for bright golden leaves; protect from sun.
F. vulgaris (F. hexapetala). DROPWORT. Native to Europe and northern and central Asia. White plumes on 3-ft. stems rise above 10-in., fernlike leaves with 1-in. leaflets; mounds reach 112 ft. wide. Double-flowered 'Multiplex' ('Flore Pleno') has heavier-looking plumes. Needs less water than the other species; also prefers full sun in the Upper and Middle South. Thrives in alkaline soils.