Virginia Sweetspire

Virginia Sweetspire, Itea virginica


Virginia sweetspire is a native wetland shrub (FACW) that occurs from Maryland, south to Florida and west to Texas.  This plant was photographed along the edge of Thoroughfare Island of Mattawoman Creek, Charles County, MD


The shrub can be semi-evergreen in the south and grows from 3 to 8-feet tall.  The shrub has a habit of arching over when in flower.  New twig growth is red and the mass of flowers are mildly fragrant.  We noted that many bees and butterflies were visiting this bush, that was on a hummock and saturated at high tide (fresh tidal).


Virginia sweetspire can be confused with sweet pepperbush and fetterbush (different flowering periods).  I do not see this plant that often, and it is spectacular when in flower.  I remember an internet photo of wintering terminal twigs, which I’ve seen many times, without realizing that I was looking at Itea.

They now have cultivars that are more drought tolerant, and used in landscaping, a species well worth considering, along with fringetree.