Ninebark – Physocarpus Opulifolius: Inedible Rose of Not-so Edible & Medicinal Wild Plants

Table of Contents

Ninebark (physocarpus opulifolius) isn’t all that edible or medicinal, but it is a wonderful source of nectar and pollen for pollinators.

Ninebark (physocarpus opulifolius) is a rare sight around Haliburton country. When Haliburton Flora was compiled there was only one noted, on an open grassy bank. Yet this is a popular deciduous shrub for native plant enthusiasts. While unusual for a plant in the rose family, our local ninebark is not really edible. It’s actually toxic in large doses. But since it’s such a cool plant for wildlife, I wanted to cover it sooner than later!

Edible Uses of Ninebark

Differing from much of its rose family relations, physocarpus have inedible fruits. A close relation on the pacific side of Canada, mallow ninebark (physocarpus malvaceus), has edible cooked roots.

Medicinal Uses of Ninebark

Ninebark is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Digestive
  • Reproductive

Medicinal tags include Astringent, Diuretic, Emetic and Laxative. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes the bark for some womb related remedies. However, it’s toxic in large doses and should only be administered by a qualified herbalist.

Growing Physocarpus Opulifolius

This shrub is wildlife-approved and fast growing making it one of my favourite larger hedge plants, up there with the likes of alternate-leaved dogwood. It’s disease resistant, drought tolerant and handles pruning well to boot. And it’ll work for erosion control on banks.

It’s a nectar and pollen powerhouse. Many butterflies and moths, bees and wasps, flies and other insects will delight in the clusters of white to pinkish ninebark flowers. Its gracefully drooping leafy branches will host caterpillars of the white spring moth (lomographa vestaliata), blinded sphinx moth (paonias excaecata) and more. Birds will enjoy the red fruits.

Plants are readily available from native plant nurseries. Older plants can be divided in the early spring. And cuttings are easy to root.

Ninebark is closely related to spiraea species and is a perfect native swap out for introduced or invasive spiraea.


And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. Tannins are toxic if consumed in excess.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. For instance, saponins commonly cause stomach upset.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

#ads in References

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Every book I reference that is available on Amazon is linked to with an associates link.



Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

Medicinal and Other Uses of North American Plants: A Historical Survey with Special Reference to the Eastern Indian Tribes

Please Like, Comment, Share! We'd love to hear your stories and knowledge! Thank you!

Leave a Comment