Sweetspire, Virginia Sweetspire, Virginia-willow i-TE-a ver-JIN-i-ka
- Broadleaf deciduous, semi-evergreen, or evergreen shrub, generally to 3-5 ft (0.9-1.5 m) tall, greater spread, arching habit. Leaves alternate, simple, elliptic or obovate to oblong, 4-10 cm long, 2-3 cm wide, serrulate, lustrous medium green to dark green above, may turn crimson to purple in fall, petiole (3-6 mm) groved on upper side. Flowers white, with 5 petals, 8-12 mm wide, in cylindrical clusters (racemes) 6-15 cm long, at the ends of branches in summer, lightly fragrant. Fruit narrowly cone shaped, 2 grooved, downy capsules about 6 mm long; containing numerous very small seeds.
- Sun to light shade, tolerates deep shade, but is more dense, has more flowers, and
better fall color in sun. Best in moist, fertile soil, but a tough shrub which tolerates dry and wet conditions (often found in wet places in its habitat).
- Hardy to USDA Zone 5 Native range from New Jersey to Florida, west to Missouri, Louisiana, and East Texas.
- Several cultivars, including:
- Henry's Garnet - 4(6) ft (1.2 m) tall, greater spread, flowers in 15 cm long clusters, fall color outstanding, purplish red.
- Little Henry® - low growing, 2-4 ft (0.6-1.2 m) tall, spreading, flower clusters 10 cm long, fall color from red-purple, orange, to yellow.
- Merlot - to about 3 ft (0.9 m) high, dense, compact habit, red fall color.
- Saturnalia - reportedly more shrub-like, less thicket forming, and maturing to a somewhat smaller size than the species, bloom similar. Foliage color is red, orange, and yellow, less showy than Henry's Garnet.
- Itea: Greek name for willow; virginica: of Virginia
- Oregon State Univ. campus: west Richardson Hall