Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Itea virginica

Virginia sweetspire, Tassel-white, Virginia willow

Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy
Virginia sweetspire is a mound-shaped, slender-branched, deciduous shrub to 8 ft. Small, white flowers bloom in 4 in. spires that droop with the arching branches. Flowers open from base to tip so that the plant appears to bloom for a long time. Leaves turn red to purple in fall and persist well into the winter. This plant is semi-evergreen in the southern part of its range.

The long tassels of white flowers and red fall foliage make this an attractive ornamental. Most effective in massed plantings, as single plants tend to be scraggly.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Size Notes: Normally 3 to 6 feet, but can reach 8 feet
Leaf: Green, red in autumn
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Flowers in 4 inch spires
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MD , MS , MO , NJ , NC , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , DC
Native Distribution: S. NJ to KY, s. IL, MO & OK, s. to FL & TX
Native Habitat: Wet, wooded stream banks; swamps; low pine barrens

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist, acid soils. Acid-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: It blooms best and has better fall color if grown in an area that receives full sun at least part of the day. Can grow in swamps and other areas of poor drainage. Should be watered during droughts outside its natural habitat.


Use Ornamental: Understory, Erosion control, Showy, Fall conspicuous
Use Wildlife: Cover, Nectar-insects
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2015-06-15