1. Filipendula Miller, Gard. Dict. Abr. ed. 4. vol. 1. 1754.
Meadowsweet, dropwort, filipendule [Latin filum, thread, and pendulus, hanging, alluding to root tubers of F. vulgaris hanging together with threads]
Ivan A. Schanzer
Thecanisia Rafinesque; Ulmaria Miller
Herbs, perennial, 5–25 dm; rhizomatous. Stems 1–10, erect, simple, leafy, glabrous or hairy. Leaves deciduous by or persistent to flowering, basal and cauline; stipules ovate to elliptic or round, ˂herbaceous, base auriculate or not˃, margins dentate; petiole present; blade pinnate, 10–40 cm, herbaceous, lateral leaflets 1–17 pairs (with smaller, interspersed leaflets between them in F. ulmaria), sometimes absent (in F. occidentalis), lanceolate or ovate to elliptic, unlobed or palmately lobed, terminal leaflets palmately 3–9-lobed, margins flat, dentate, serrate, or doubly serrate, abaxial surface glabrous or sparsely short-hairy to tomentose, adaxial glabrous or sparsely short-hairy. Inflorescences terminal, usually 100+-flowered, dense to lax, corymbiform panicles ˂with nearly erect proximal branches overtopping central axis (anthela)˃, glabrous or hairy; bracts absent; bracteoles absent. Pedicels present. Flowers 8–15 mm diam.; hypanthium 1 mm, glabrous; sepals (4–)5–6(–9), reflexed, spatulate to triangular; petals (4–)5–6(–9), white to cream or pink to purple, oblanceolate or obovate to orbiculate; stamens 20–30, shorter to longer than petals; carpels ˂stipitate or sessile˃, glabrous or ciliate to hirsute, styles ˂persistent˃. Fruits aggregated achenes, 3–18, ± flattened, lanceolate to oblanceolate, 3–14 mm, margins ciliate or glabrous, faces hairy or glabrous; hypanthium persistent, in some species becoming convex in fruit; sepals persistent, reflexed. x = 7.
Species 15 (4 in the flora): North America, Eurasia, n Africa; introduced in Pacific Islands (New Zealand), Australia.
According to the results of molecular phylogenetic researches (D. R. Morgan et al. 1994; T. Eriksson et al. 2003), Filipendula is phylogenetically the basal genus of subfam. Rosoideae. This readily explains its previously controversial and long-disputed position in Rosaceae; for a long time Filipendula was regarded as part of Spiraea (C. J. Maximowicz 1879; D. B. O. Savile 1968). No taxon closely related to Filipendula is known.
The inflorescence shape is one of the most characteristic features of the genus; it is called an anthela and represents a corymbiform panicle with the proximal branches nearly upright and long overriding the central axis of the inflorescence (A. A. Fedorov and Z. Artjuschenko 1979).
A number of species of Filipendula are used as ornamentals. They have attractive, dense inflorescences of pink to purplish or white flowers and rather decorative, deeply dissected foliage. Among ornamental species, the Japanese F. ×purpurea Maximowicz, the North American F. rubra, and the Eurasian F. ulmaria are noteworthy; these are plants of wet habitats and are mostly used in gardens to fringe ponds. In F. ulmaria, cultivars with double flowers are known. Both F. ulmaria and F. vulgaris were introduced to North America by early colonists, probably as ornamentals.
Filipendula ulmaria is of interest as a medicinal plant; its flowers contain tannins, salicylates, and heparin-like compounds, and were tested for anti-inflammatory and antiulcer activities (O. D. Barnaulov and P. P. Denisenko 1980; B. A. Kudriashov et al. 1990, 1991). Filipendula rubra has been reported to have similar properties (S. Foster and J. A. Duke 1990).
SELECTED REFERENCES Savile, D. B. O. 1968. Parasite relationships and disposition of Filipendula. Brittonia 20: 230–231. Schanzer, I. A. 1994. Taxonomic revision of the genus Filipendula Mill. (Rosaceae). J. Jap. Bot. 69: 290–319.