Itea virginica
Virginia sweetspire or Virginia willow

Itea virginica
Itea virginica
Wiki Commons, GNU
Britton & Brown
Botanical name: Itea virginica
Common name: Virginia sweetspire or Virginia willow
Group: dicot
Family: Grossulariaceae
Growth type: shrub
Duration: perennial
Origin: native
Plant height: 3 - 6'
Foliage: Alternate leaf arrangement; leaves elliptical to lanceolate with an acute apex, 1.5 to 4" long, and 3/4" to 1-1/4" wide. Leaf margins very finely serrated (toothed); medium to dark green leaf color, and leaf surface is glabrous (smooth, without hairs).  Mahogany to orange red fall foliage. Deciduous to semi-evergreen.

Stems are purple red on the sun-exposed side and green on the opposite side.
Twigs have green, chambered pith; 3 bundle-scars (monkey- face).
Flower: white, lightly fragrant 2" to 6" long racemes of small white flowers
Flowering time: Flowers early June to late June; fruits about September, persisting over the winter.
Habitat: Pine barrens swamps, streambanks and other moist habitats.
Range in New Jersey: Frequent in Pine Barrens swamps and locally in West Jersey and the Cape May peninsula.  Itea virginica is at its northern most range in New Jersey.
Heritage ranking, if any: n/a
Misc. USDA lists as an obligate wetland plant; occurs almost always (estimated probability 99%) under natural conditions in wetlands.

May be confused with Clethra alnifolia (Sweet pepperbush).

Used in landscaping; flowers attracts butterflies; seeds eaten by birds. Several cultivars exist.

Itea, Greek for willow, and virginica,  of Virginia.