Itea comprises 16 species which are mainly indigenous in eastern Asia; the only North American species, I. virginica, has been cultivated as an ornamental shrub for a long time.

This is an evergreen or deciduous, woody-stemmed shrub with spreading, oval leaves and long, narrow racemes of fragrant, small flowers which grow terminally or in the leaf axilla. I. virginica is a deciduous shrub up to 3 m tall, bare in winter, with green and reddish-brown shoots, short-stemmed, oval, pointed, finely serrated, pale green leaves which turn red in autumn, and nodding, downy, compact, cylindrical racemes, 5-15 cm long, of fragrant, creamy-white flowers.

Suitable for a shady, moist spot, or sun or semi-shade in normal garden soil, not heavy clay. Remove frozen and ugly branches in spring; thin out regularly to rejuvenate. Propagate from seed, summer cuttings and dividing rooted shoots.

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