Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This shrub is 3-9' tall with ascending to arching branches. The bark of the trunk or larger branches is gray to brown and slightly wrinkled or fissured, while the bark of small branches is brown to red and smooth with scattered lenticels (air pores). Young shoots are light green, terete, and pubescent. Alternate leaves occur along the smaller branches and young shoots. These leaves are 1½-3½" long and ½-1½" across; they are broadly elliptic in shape and their margins are either finely serrated or they have sparse minute teeth. The upper surface of the leaves is yellowish green to green and glabrous, while the lower surface is slightly more pale and usually sparsely pubescent along the major veins. The petioles are up to ½" long, glabrous or pubescent, and yellowish green, light green, or red. Leaf venation is pinnate. Upper stems terminate in narrow racemes of flowers about 2-6" long. These racemes can be erect, ascending, or drooping. Each flower spans about 1/3" (8 mm.) across, consisting of a short open calyx with 5 shallow teeth, 5 white petals that are linear-lanceolate, 5 stamens, and a lanceoloid pistil with a single style. The calyx is light green to yellowish green and pubescent, while the pistil is yellowish green to white and pubescent. The pedicels are about 1/8" (3 mm.) long, light green or yellowish green, and short-pubescent. The central rachis of the raceme is light green to brown and pubescent. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer, lasting about 3-4 weeks. The flowers are mildly to moderately fragrant. Afterwards, the flowers are replaced by 2-celled seed capsules about ¼" long that are lanceoloid in shape and become dark brown at maturity. The base of each capsule is swollen by the persistent calyx. At this time, the seed capsules split open to release their seeds. The chunky seeds are 1.0-1.5 mm. long, 0.5-1.0 mm. across, and compressed (somewhat flattened). The seed surface is dark and shiny. The root system is woody and develops underground runners, forming clonal offsets. The leaves are deciduous in Illinois, becoming bright red during the autumn (see photo of Autumn Leaves).
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Virginia Sweetspire occurs in southern Illinois, where it is uncommon (see Distribution Map). Elsewhere in the state, this shrub is absent, except as a cultivated plant. Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats consist primarily of floodplain woodlands, margins of rivers and lakes, and swamps. With the notable exceptions of Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) and Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), this shrub colonizes areas that are too wet for most trees.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Virginia Sweetspire occurs in southern Illinois, where it is uncommon (see Distribution Map). Elsewhere in the state, this shrub is absent, except as a cultivated plant. Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats consist primarily of floodplain woodlands, margins of rivers and lakes, and swamps. With the notable exceptions of Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) and Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica), this shrub colonizes areas that are too wet for most trees.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Associations

Faunal Associations

At the present time, very little information about floral-faunal relationships is available. The flowers are probably cross-pollinated by bees, butterflies, and other insects. When this shrub forms colonies, it provides nesting habitat for birds and protective cover for both birds and other kinds of wildlife.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Itea virginica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Itea virginica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is partial sun, wet conditions, and soil that is muddy, silty, or sandy. Shallow standing water is tolerated. This shrub has few problems with insects or disease. Winter temperatures below -20°F can be fatal. This wetland shrub can be used along rivers to reduce soil erosion.
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Wikipedia

Itea virginica

Itea virginica (Virginia sweetspire or Virginia willow) is a plant in the Iteaceae.

Description[edit]

I. virginica is a shrub with alternate, simple leaves, on arching stems. The flowers are white, borne in summer. It has deciduous to semievergreen shrub and grows from 3' to 6' tall. It is a multistemmed, suckering and colonizing plant. The stems branch infrequently except at the tops.

References[edit]


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