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Natural Highlights: Itea

    

Also called Virginia Sweetspire and Virginia Willow, Itea virginica is a wetland shrub with long beautiful spires of white, mildly fragrant flowers, on display now in the swamps of the Wolf River.  This plant will put on another great show in the fall when its leaves turn shades of red, yellow and orange. Itea attracts pollinating insects and is an important cover plant for birds and other wildlife; so far, it is not known as a host plant for butterfly larvae.

Popular as a shrub in home landscapes, Itea thrives in partial shade or full sun and likes medium to moist soil. It forms an erect, rounded, broad-spreading, deciduous shrub with arching branches which typically grows 3-4' (less frequently to 5') tall with a similar spread. The tiny white flowers are borne in cylindrical, drooping racemes (3-6" long) which cover the shrub with bloom in late spring to early summer. Itea provides a long period of fall color, with leaves often persisting on the plants until early winter.

 

Posted by Cathy Justis at 8:09 AM