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While visiting Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary on January 19, 2014, I found this shrub or small tree with a few flower clusters in bloom along the boardwalk in the bald cypress forest. It was the only specimen that I saw, so the plant might be blooming outside its normal flowering season. I would appreciate help in identifying the species. I don't know how well some of the key features will show in the image, but the leaves are alternate, lanceolate, and finely toothed. The inflorescence is a terminal raceme. Individual flowers have 5 pure white petals, 5 stamens, and 1 pistil. The sepals and short flower stalks are red/pink.
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  • The sanctuary is located in Naples, Florida. – kevinsky Jan 28 '14 at 20:09
  • where is Eric Nitardy when you need him? – kevinsky Jan 29 '14 at 19:49
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Probably Itea virginica, Saxifragaceae Family.

A native throughout the state of Florida. Known as Sweetspire or Virginia Willow. A deciduous (semi decid. in south florida) shrub growing to six feet tall.

Simple alternate leaves, finely toothed, acuminate pointed tips. Flowering February to April.

Petal / stamen count matches both itea and clethra alnifolia, but the latter being sweet scented and not ranging as far south as Naples, Fl.

Habitat is streambanks, wetlands and swamps. Matching Corkscrew sanctuary.

Some citation from: Gil Nelson 'Shrubs and Woody vines of Florida'

  • Judging by this photo, I'd say you're absolutely right, though there are differences in hardiness. – emsoff Jan 30 '14 at 4:36

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