Meet the Natives: Virginia Willow
Virginia willow (Itea virginica) is a native understory shrub that naturally occurs in swamps, wetlands, and mesic hammocks throughout most of Florida. Its common name is a little deceiving because it is not a true willow but has characteristics that resemble those of true willow species. It is also known as Virginia sweetspire.
Virginia willow grows 6 to 10 feet tall by approximately 6 feet wide. The arching stems are covered in white, 4-inch-long, spike-like flowers beginning in late winter or early spring and continue to provide a showy display throughout the summer. Ideal growing conditions require moist to wet soils in full to part shade.
It spreads by suckering and is useful as a soil stabilizer along pond or stream edges where erosion could be an issue. Virginia willow attracts a variety of pollinators and is an attractive addition to shady, low-lying areas of the landscape, planted singularly or in mass.