Ninebark is a cold hardy, tough, native shrub for mixed borders. Pinkish-white flower clusters in late spring, persistent seed capsules and exfoliating bark adds to the seasonal interest. Foliage of cultivars varies in size and color from purple to lime green.
"This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Mixed border,
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 feet),
- Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 2,
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Acid soil,
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Occasional drought,
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding,
- Alkaline soil,
- Clay soil,
- Road salt
Seasons of Interest:
- late winter,
- late spring,
- early summer,
- late summer,
- early fall,
- mid fall,
- late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size & Form
An upright, spreading, dense shrub with arching branches reaching 6 to 10 feet tall and wide.
Cultivars vary in size and leaf color.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in full sun to light shade in well-drained soil. Tolerant of wet to dry alkaline soil.
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Should be pruned regularly. Older shrubs can be renewal pruned by cutting to the ground in winter.
Disease, pests, and problems
Leaf spots, powdery mildew, cankers
Native geographic location and habitat
Central and eastern North America.
In the wild it is found growing along stream banks, rocky ledges and moist thickets.
Attracts birds & butterflies
Persistent papery seed capsules attract seed-eating birds.
Bark color and texture
Young twigs are shiny and reddish- brown. Older stems are brown and exfoliate in papery strips.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate, 3 to 5 lobed simple leaf. Dark green above and paler green beneath.
Fall color is usually a bronzy yellow.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Tiny, white flowers in 2 inch clusters. Each flower has hairy petals and prominent purple-colored stamens. Showy in late May to early June.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Drooping clusters of reddish fruit (inflated seed capsules) that ripen in July and remain on plant until they shatter in winter.
This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."
Amber Jubilee Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Jefam'): Rounded, 5 to 6 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide; new growth is yellow to orange, changing to lime green. Fall color is purple.
Coppertina™ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Mindia'): Upright, spreading reaching 6 to 8 feet high; new foliage is copper changing to reddish-bronzy.
Diabolo® Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Monlo'): Upright, 8 to 10 feet high, dark purple leaves, pinkish-white flower clusters in early to mid summer.
Little Devil Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius "Donna May'): Rounded, 3 to 4 feet high and wide; deep burgundy leaves with clusters of pinkish-white flowers.
'Nugget' Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Nugget'): Compact, 5 to 6 feet high; finely-textured, golden yellow to lime green foliage.
Summer Wine™ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius 'Seward'): Compact 5 to 6 feet tall shrub with deeply cut wine-red foliage. Good mildew resistance.
Tiny Wine® (Physocarpus opulifolius 'SWPOTWG'): A small, bushy 3 to 4 feet high and wide shrub with fine-textured, deep purple leaves; small clusters of white flowers bloom up and down the stems.