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Native Plant Database

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Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Itea virginica

Itea virginica L.

Virginia sweetspire, Tassel-white

Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: ITVI

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

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.

 

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

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA
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.

Benefit

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

Propagation

Propagation Material: Seeds , Semi-hardwood Cuttings
Description: Seeds are very tiny and germinate best if sown thinly in flats in a greenhouse. Sweetspire grows best if kept in a container one year. Semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late summer or early fall will root.
Seed Collection: Collect seed in late summer or early fall. Remove from capsule and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require no pretreatment.
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Water during droughts.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native plant to replace invasive non-native nandina in Houston
February 28, 2010
I'm just now finding out that Nandinas are an invasive species from our local chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas. I have three of them in my front yard and want to replace them. Can you sug...
view the full question and answer

Native shrub to replace non-native azaleas.
February 10, 2009
I want to replace my two dozen azaleas this spring (I think they're unattractive once the flowers fall off). I like the multiseason characteristics of weigela (midnight wine, W&R), but want to go na...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACW OBL OBL OBL OBL
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
LAMTREE FARM - Warrensville, NC
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Georgia Native Plant Society - Atlanta, GA
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Bibliography

Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter1998 VOL. 15, NO.5 - Native Shrubs Providing Landscape Heritage and Habitat, Executive Director\'s Re...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Itea virginica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Itea virginica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Itea virginica

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2013-09-08
Research By: TWC Staff

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