Shrubs or small trees, 1-10 m tall. Young branchlets yellow-green, striate; old branchlets dark brown, glabrous. Petiole 0.5-1.5 cm, sulcate adaxially, glabrous; leaf blade abaxially pale green, adaxially dark green or glossy, ovate or elliptic, 5-10 × 2.5-5 cm, thinly leathery, both surfaces glabrous, midvein distinctly raised abaxially, impressed adaxially, secondary veins in 4 or 5 pairs, arcuate, reticulate veins prominent, base obtuse or rounded, margin slightly curved spinose serrate, apex acute or shortly acuminate. Racemes terminal, nodding to pendulous, to 20 cm; rachis puberulous; bracts subulate, ca. 1 mm. Flowers numerous, often 3-clustered; pedicel spreading at anthesis, pendulous in fruit, ca. 2 mm, puberulous. Calyx shallowly cupular; lobes triangular-lanceolate, 1-1.5 mm, puberulous, rarely subglabrous. Petals erect at anthesis, slightly curved apically, pale green, linear-lanceolate, ca. 2.5 mm. Stamens usually shorter than petals; filaments ca. 2 mm, glabrous; anthers oblong. Ovary semi-inferior, glabrous. Style simple; stigma capitate. Capsule conical, 5-6 mm, glabrous. Fl. and fr. May-Dec. 2n = 22*.
Itea bodinieri H. Léveillé; I. esquirolii H. Léveillé; I. forrestii Y. C. Wu; I. mengtzeana Engler.